Travel – Ryan Air
Accommodation – Le Meridien
A little while ago, I travelled to Budapest in Hungary with my best friend, ‘Chalupa’.Chalupa and I could literally have fun anywhere – at school, at uni, in a field, in a lift, in a cardboard box …YOU GET THE PICTURE. Chalupa is my bae, my homie for lyf and wherever we go we always seem to get into comical adventures. Budapest was no different.
After arriving in Budapest and settling in at the beautiful Le Meridien hotel, we decided to whack out the faithful ‘Fungenda’. Our first stop was St Stephen’s Basilica, which was not more than a ten minute walk from our hotel. St Stephen’s Basilica is a stunning, neo-classical Roman Catholic Church which is open to the public. It seems to be the focal point of Budapest and is therefore a great area for restaurants and night life.
Just around the corner from the Basilica is a little shop called Gelarto Rosa. We had heard about this place through internet chatter and from the amazing photographs we had seen online, knew that we had to make it our mission to visit. The gelato was creamy and delicious, and came in as many different flavours as you could imagine; from hazelnut and chocolate to grapefruit and basil (FYI: basil flavoured gelato is literally disgusting). However, the most amazing part of Gelarto Rosa is the fact that they delicately mould each ice cream into a beautiful rose shape!! Obviously just a novelty, but very much worth seeing!
After this, we decided to check out an attraction which was literally opposite our hotel – Sziget Eye. This is basically a mini version of the London Eye, but it was a nice way to get some good views of the city. We found out later that this area plays host to a large music festival every year called Sziget Festival, which has featured some very big names!
We spent the rest of the day sitting on a bench by the Danube, drinking mint lemonade and giggling over everything and nothing. While we were doing this, we realised that we were being observed. A man came up to us and asked us who we were. As former students of an all girls’ school, we are naturally suspicious of ALL MEN (just kidding… sort of). The man said that his name was ‘Z’ and that he was an American travelling around the world talking to strangers and collecting stories for his blog. We think that he had approached us because we had been sitting on a bench laughing for about an hour and probably looked emotionally disturbed. A fine story for his blog!! We told him that we were from the UK and that we weren’t drunk, just high on life (which he didn’t seem to believe) and after taking some photos of us he disappeared. For a long time we wondered whether he had even been real, or simply a sugar induced hallucination. But he was real and you can see his tumblr linked here – http://projectz-cool.tumblr.com/
After that weirdness, in the evening we decided to go on a river cruise to see Budapest by night. We were able to easily purchase tickets for this tour through our hotel concierge and it was very much worth it to see sights such as the Hungarian Parliament in lights.
Our second day in Budapest began with a trip, or should I say trek, to Central Market Hall. This was a long way from our hotel and by the time we reached the market, we were kind of miserable and drenched in sweat. The bottom floor of the market is mainly reserved for spices (such as Hungarian paprika, picture below), meats, fruits and veg and other such food stuffs. The second level has trinkets, clothes and textiles. While it did feel like we were in a sauna at points, I would still say it was worth the visit.
My main aim for the trip had been to try certain Hungarian foods. Although we had not managed to find any food we wanted at the Central Market Hall, there was another market closer to our hotel which had the right stuff. We took a lunch of langos, raspberry strudel and mint lemonades back to our hotel and had a meal that I will literally never forget. Langos is a Hungarian snack which is formed of deep fried dough topped with stuff like cheese, garlic or sour cream. I opted for cheese and sour cream on mine and it was heavenly. The strudel was perfect, as you would expect; a great combination of sweet and tart.
After the heat had passed a little, we made our way across the Chain Bridge to the funicular, a kind of vertical railway (HUF 1,700 for a return). Budapest is actually separated by the river Danube into the towns of Buda and Pest. The bridge and the funicular had taken us to Buda, which famously houses a castle and one of the best view points of Budapest (Gellert Hill). We explored the area and had dinner on the top of Castle Hill (a moment which felt so amazing that it was only enhanced by the sudden rain, thunder and lightning that struck). We then went further into Buda to watch the sunset and also in search of Dobos, a layered Hungarian cake.
Because I’m really annoying, I insisted on waking Chalupa up at 4am in order to go out and sit on the Chain Bridge to watch the sunrise. Things got super awkward when we couldn’t even find the sun (seriously) but I think Chalupa has just about forgiven me for that. We went back to bed after dodging the night clubbers doing their walks of shame, and woke up at a more decent hour for breakfast at the Solinfo Café. This place is in the Jewish quarter and does a great range of stuff like eggs and pancakes, as well as healthier gluten free items. They also had free wifi which is always a winner when you’re travelling!
We then went to the largest synagogue in Europe, the Dohany Street Synagogue (HUF 3,000 admission). The architecture and ambience were both very beautiful and we were also able to look around the attached Hungarian Jewish Museum. The back of the synagogue housed a moving memorial to those that had died during the Holocaust.
(Note that the Synagogue is always closed for Shabbat on Friday afternoons and Saturdays).
While we were in the Jewish quarter, we decided to visit a famous kosher bakery called ‘Frolich Cukraszda’. The building was so small and crumbly that you may not have noticed it had you not known its significance. We decided to get three slices of cake; chocolate, citrus and almond. As you can probably guess, they were delicious!
That evening we walked around the city down to the Hungarian Parliament building, which we had wanted to see up close. We grabbed some takeaway pizzas for dinner from Il Terzo Cerchio, a rustic looking Italian restaurant.
On our fourth and final day in Budapest, Chalupa and I decided to test out one of the oldest metros in the world and head a bit further out into the city. We stopped at Heroes Square, which is surrounded by Budapest’s famous museums and galleries. Our original intention had been to visit the Museum of Fine Arts but it was closed, so we decided instead to head to the zoo instead (HUF 2,500 entrance fee).
You know how sometimes when you go to the zoo, all the animals are lying there depressed and wishing they could escape because they saw a zoo keeper watching ‘Madagascar’ and think it’s real? The animals at this zoo seemed very happy, active and alert. Our favourites were the bears and the elephants, but sadly we couldn’t stare too long as our flight home was looming.
In summary, Budapest is a vibrant, beautiful and exciting city and I would go as far as to say that I would love to own a home there some day! We noticed that it was also a very good city for those on a budget, as a lot of the food and drink we bought was priced at very low rates. I’m not sure whether it was Chalupa or Budapest or a mixture of the two, but my visit to Budapest was honestly one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji