All posts filed under: Budapest

A Home Away From Home

Although not as eventful as my first trip to Budapest, this holiday definitely was more relaxing without the burden of having to see everything in only a short period of time. It makes a change to spend more time in a place and get to know the city and culture in a unique way, one that resonates more than if you were to rush around in only 48 hours. On my last day we took one last wander through the city, stopping at Baotiful a very non-Hungarian restaurant serving the most amazing street-food style bao and pho. The sun began to set across the river, on the side of Buda and over the peaks of Fisherman’s Bastion and we walked up to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank by Hungarian Parliament, honouring the memorial and watching the sun turn from a warm amber and pink to a cold blue.

Everything Else in Beauty-Pest

Once familiarised with a city, the pressure is off to cram in all the tourist hotspots. Two and a half weeks (after already being previously here for another two in Winter) seems like the sweet spot to feel like a local. Spending my days freelancing obviously leaves less time for one to experience the city but alas, work-life calls. If I had finished my work or fancied a walk around midday, I strolled with my camera to the centre, closer to the Danube, stopping at my now favourite coffee place Espresso Embassy, and seeing the usual sights; St Peter’s Basilica, Hungarian Parliament, etc. I found Lumas Art Gallery on one street corner, a tiny shop with contemporary art and photography which is worth a look if you’re in the area. Rather randomly, I also somehow managed to become the temporary owner of a dog – another way to feel like a local: own a (temporary) pet. Amy, a golden retriever mix, became homeless after her owner died and lives in a dog shelter awaiting adoption …

360 Budapest

For the best views of the city, you have a plethora of options to choose from when visiting Budapest. If you fancy a night out on the town, including cocktails, DJs, good vibes and a sunset, head to 360 Bar in Pest. Upon finding the venue, you may seem confused as to how the building you’re entering would bear such spectacular a view. The small reception leads to an even tinier lift, but once you’ve arrived you can see what the hype is about. If you can find a table (reservations are recommended), watch the sun set whilst slurping your drink and watch the fairy lights flicker on over the terrace as night falls over the city. And don’t forget to take that compulsory sun-set selfie. * The rooftop bar buzzed with chatter and sparkled with the clinking of drinks; large pint glasses decorated tables alongside large jam jars filled with crushed ice and freshly made lemonade – something that’s served seemingly everywhere in Budapest this time of year. The main terrace hosted a large …

Lazy Summers

The start of my second week in Budapest remained calm. I frequented coffee shops and took long jogs along the Danube to burn off all the tantalising cheesecake and coffee, walked up and down and around the narrow roads of the city, hoping to capture any magical moments, enjoying the sun (but remaining in the shade lest my poor skin suffer more). And for lunch, I would grab some fresh bread from a local bakery, and saunter home. Hitting up Madal coffee more than three times is a must. Above: cheesecake, banana cake, orange & turmeric juice, iced coffee. One coffee shop that has quickly become a favourite was Espresso Embassy; it’s embedded in the brightest yellow-faced building you’ve ever seen, it’s suave “E” logo jutting out above some wooden tables and chairs outside, adorned with tiny plants in white pots. Inside, they sell their excellent coffee blends alongside a variety of standard cafe drinks and a large selection of cakes and pastries, including cardamom buns, cheesecake and chocolate babka (which is a must-try). Large …

Castle on a Hill

The slow mornings continued to prevail, this time eventually making our way to Székesfehérvár – a city in Hungary that used to be its capital in the middle ages. After taking a Hogwarts-style train to the city, we walked through empty, serene roads lined with fruit trees to try and find sustenance – we sneakily picked off some ripe, tantalisingly orange apricots and ate the fresh flesh to temporarily fix our hunger. At long last, we finally settled on bEAT restaurant – fine dining in the city without a hefty cost. To start, an amazing Hungarian meat and cheese platter served with slices of soft sourdough baguette. For mains, Hungarian ratatouille; slices of tomato, pepper, onion and more, in a rich tomato-y sauce, mixed with eggs and with two slim sausages atop. To finish we had the ultimate cheesecake, with a nutty, slightly green tinted biscuit bottom, flower petals and a lip-staining blueberry sauce. Bellies heaving, we bumbled back onto a bus and made our way to Bory castle – a small castle built by …

Burn-Baby-Burn

We awoke to the sound of planes overhead, neeaww-ing back and forth across the city. This weekend, Budapest hosted the Red Bull World Air Race on the Danube, a summertime spectacle based on speed and precision for a select number of pilots and their planes, speeding down the river, winding through tall air-filled pillar-buoys and loop-de-looping high into the sky. The event attracted over 650,000 spectators in 2009, and this year the same could be said – perhaps more. The river-side was filled to the brim with scuttling spectators, lining the roads and elevated banks to watch the speedy planes zoom by into the sky. Both young and old were in awe, comical head turns of the entire crowd in full swing, much like what you could imagine at a Wimbledon match. Street food vendors dished out Gyros (kebabs), Lángos (basically giant flat doughnuts) and gelato to spectators, famished and parched from the blistering heat. We made our way to the race after making our way to the Hungarian Parliament, viewing the majestic neo-gothic style …

Back in Budapest

Back in the land where beer is cheaper than water, Budapest no longer resembled the Winter wonderland I knew from a couple of months ago. The beginning of Summer had struck, and the city was filled with sun, heat, and most of all, tourists. The scorching heat hit instantly, stepping off the plane and walking into a wall of warmth, relentlessly afflicting locals and tourists alike. Temperatures of over 30 strike the people of Budapest, gelato stalls on offer at almost every restaurant and cafe-front, iced coffee signs erect at any cafe, and the oh so familiar scent of sun-cream once again permeate my days. Naturally, a city changes its colours with the seasons, but Budapest remains ever beautiful and majestic in the Summer sun. The once magical snow that blanketed the city is now replaced by the enveloping heat, almost enhancing the warm colours of the beautiful and ornamented Austro-Hungarian architecture, seeming exceptionally Eastern (European) in atmosphere. My time in Budapest now is more relaxed, which is a blessing given temperatures rise to a …

The Last Supper

My last few hours in Budapest were spent drinking coffee, eating tasty cakes and taking in my last moments of the wonderful city. On a seeming coffee-holiday, Madal cafe was next on the list. A more modern cafe, tall and spacious on the inside with a meditative quality to the decor and atmosphere, you can find excellent coffee, cakes and food at a reasonable cost. And you find yourself longer in Budapest, they cater to your coffee bean and equipment needs too.  To send me home, we had a mini-feast – not unlike what we had been doing basically the whole trip anyway; cheesecake definitely on par with one from Steamhouse Cafe, lemon and poppy seed loaf, a random wrap, and double shot lattes, served beautifully on a custom Madal wooden board – coffee definitely served in style. If time wasn’t against us, Madal was definitely a great chill-out spot, one where you could chit chat, whip out your mac or cosy up with a book. Snow began to fall en-route to the airport, my …

Sleep First, Sightsee Second

My last days in Budapest were spent sleeping, relaxing and not running around frantically trying to get everything seen; more often than not I feel far more exhausted travelling on holiday rather than actually experiencing a “holiday”. The rush and madness to see all the sights in such a short amount of time can be overwhelming, but the more I travel the more I think that it’s about quality, not quantity – why see 100 things for such a little time each than see just a select few and with more consideration and attention? Apple burek. Happiness, now available tinned. I had the time to walk calmly around the area in which I was staying, Corvin, walking up and down the streets lined by towering old apartment blocks, walking in and out of local shops and cafes and visiting the Holocaust Memorial nearby. A renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s, the memorial also serves as a museum, remembering the lives of millions of Jews lost in the 20th century. Over 500,000 Hungarian Jews …

Artistic Enlightenment (Shortly Followed by Cake)

Long needed were those mornings where, upon awakening, the glorious sensation hits that you have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever. So used to rude awakenings by a shrill 7am alarm and mounds of tasks to accomplish, these few mornings had been the biggest gift. A sleepy trip to Great Market Hall was needed, however, to pick up an assortment of compulsory holiday gifts.  Tiny bags of paprika (interestingly translated from Hungarian to “red gold”) were mandatory of course, complete with tiny hand-carved wooden spoons, traditional candies, marzipan chocolates and tiny bottles of palinka – one way of getting around the 100ml liquid restriction on flights. I lazily strolled around the great hall, walking up and downstairs in search for more surprises (and a steaming cup of coffee). I braved my way back into the crispy morning air to navigate around Vaci street to find some breakfast, stumbling on Mantra Specialty Coffee Minibar on narrow side road, snugly hid amidst larger shops and apartments – mini was definitely the word for it. Inside, you hang your …