In October our photographer friends, Jona & Jerry, asked us to join them for Jona’s 30th birthday in Budapest. To be honest, we did not know them very well at the time but we knew that we absolutely had two things in common, a love for travel and photography. Good enough for us! We looked at tickets that day and they were very modest European flight cost, $650 each. So we jumped on the opportunity to travel with them and a group of their friends. Budapest, while touristy to Europeans, seems to be less noticed by Americans which gave it a special charm. We were still exhausted from a red eye flight the first day of our arrival we still manage to eat amazing goulash from For Sale Pub (highly recommend), drink wine at Szimpla Kert, and sing karaoke with locals at a bar we will never be able to find again. Szimpla Kert is in the bar district of Budapest where many ruins were converted into bars and clubs. The bar is huge and likely one of the most popular. It has many different areas including an outdoor section filled with old cars, a wine bar, and even a girl that walks around selling carrots at night. I think it is supposed to help with hangovers… We loved it so much that we decided to go back there during the end of our trip, during which, we were randomly interviewed for commentary about the bar by the Ukranian television network 1+1.
We took the Big Bus to the citadella to see great views of Budapest (where the first photo was taken). We had dinner at the Citadella panorama, probably one of my favorite meals ever that I only have one horrible photo of, warm spinach salad with three 1 hour eggs and toasted banquette. After a side trip to Prague I got pretty sick and totally lost my voice for a few days so we took this opportunity to relax at the biggest thermal bath, Szechenyi thermal baths. The saunas and pools were great to heal my sore throat but given the opportunity I would have visited one of the other ones like Rudas or Csaszar Baths. We have also been to the best thermal bath of all time in Iceland, so we are a bit biased. We also went to the Hungarian state opera house to see the Flying Dutchman, for a classical music fan such as myself it was on top of my list to experience the opera house in eastern Europe. I only wish I had read a little more about the story before hand because the opera is all in German and was translated to Hungarian. Europeans also tend to update their operas with a ‘modern flair’ which made the story even more difficult to understand given the language barrier.
I really loved Budapest for the history, the sites, the food, the wine, and the price! Budapest is awesome, especially if you’re looking to experience Europe without spending so much money. Part of me hopes it gets more credit as a tourist destination location but part of me wants to keep it a secret so it won’t be spoiled.
The photo above : I saw this sign a few times during our stay in Budapest, often very crowded with tourists I was determined to wake up one morning at sunrise to get a photo without the swarms of people. On our last full day in Budapest I was determined to wake up and photograph it the way I had imagined. We booked a hotel just three blocks from Heroes Square to make the walk easier. I set my alarm for 5:45am and walked out into the foggy morning still wearing pajamas underneath my jackets… only to find the sign being taken down. This photo was the first photo I snapped off before they continued to dismantle it. I figured it was a cruel joke Hungary was playing on me. If you know anything about the history of Budapest you would know that it was once 2 cities, Buda on one side of the river and Pest on the other. In a way, I think this photo represents that history I’m happy that I got a photo of this installation that no one else got.
Erzsébet tér during a concert.
Szechenyi thermal baths.
Budapest parliament building.
Szempla Kert, where you buy carrots from girls to, apparently, help with hangovers.
Bokod, Komarom-esztergom – a fishing town outside of Budapest.
This is the gelato we got from Gelarto Rosa, it is close to the best gelato I have ever had, not to mention they make it pretty and put nutella at the bottom of the cone (per request).
The two on the left are from Central Kavehaz, one of the few places you can find a traditional American breakfast with eggs & bacon, as well as a Hungarian breakfast with sausage, sausage, & more sausage. They have some of the best pastries I’ve ever had. Eastern Europe rocks the pastries. On the right is my Hungarian sponge cake revamped from Godunov, a fancy Russian restaurant.
On the left is a pastry/dessert/snack that you can find on the streets, kurtoskalaes. It’s like a butter sweet bread wrapped around a wooden stick of some sort baked and smothered in cinnamon, sugar, almonds, or a few other options. We called it a “dretzel” like a donut pretzel. The middle is Ben’s breakfast from Szamos. The right is a drink we saw a lot of at an outdoor bar so we decided to order our own. It’s similar to a white wine spritzer, a cheap sweet rose wine and carbonated water. That’s it! The wine in Hungary is pretty awesome and even better, pretty damn cheap. I drank a lot of champagne and wine here because it was so reasonably priced, you can get a decent bottle of Hungarian champagne at a restaurant for under $20.
On the left is Ben’s duck breast, pear, and puff pastry lunch from Bonnie Restro. Upper left, I ordered a ‘sample of grilled cheese and salad’- being from America, I assumed that meant ‘grilled cheese sandwich’ but I was wrong, it was literally grilled cheese. Still delicious… Bottom right is soom street food as a part of a festival of local crafts and foods. Sooo much meat in eastern Europe.