I always seem to be having a bit of a competition with myself to squeeze in more holidays in the year than I did the previous year. Last year I managed a fair amount (New York, Curacao, Barcelona, Andalusia, and then Andalusia again!) so when Ryanair cancelled my boyfriends flight for a lads holiday he had in October, and gave him £80 compensation in vouchers, I was well on the way to booking our first holiday for this year!
In 2007, I went interrailing, an amazing experience, which I urge anyone and everyone to do! 6 weeks, several trains, and 10 different European destinations. After a whistle stop tour of the various cities, there’s always been a few I’ve wanted to go back to. Budapest was one of those. Here’s a flashback to 2007. And here’s a quick delve into our first 2018 adventure.
We arrived late on Sunday evening, and got a taxi straight to our apartment, taxi cost a whopping 6900HUF, seems a phenomenal amount, but it’s actually only 20 quid, the currency is bonkers. We stayed in an apartment in Buda, which we found through booking.com. A really nice, spacious, modern flat, situated just at the bottom of Castle Hill, and a stones throw from the Chain Bridge that takes you over the Danube into Pest.
Some friends were coincidentally in Budapest at the same time, so we arranged to meet up and head to the Szechenyi Spa, you know, the big famous yellow building you see on all the postcards. Interestingly it has about 5 different entrances, and they are not universal! After doing a 360° tour of the building we finally found an entrance that would accept our online booking and we went straight for the outdoor thermal baths.
We’d also booked their Thermal Beer Spa. Ultimately, it’s 45 minutes with a beer tap, some Hungarian snacks, and a hot bath. Brilliant. The bath water actually includes malt, hops and yeast; so the water mixture helps to rejuvenate your skin, reduce the appearence of acne and cellulite, and cleans your pores supposedly. It was good fun anyway!
Now that we’d had the taste of beer the obvious choice was to head here for some wine, and here for some dinner, and then onto the Ruin Pubs. If you drink the local sparkling wine (closest thing to prosecco) it will set you back around £1.50 a glass! Beers and ciders are around £2.50 a pint, so you can imagine how sore our heads were the next morning.
Brunch. I am a brunch fan if you didn’t already know. Brunch > everything. Obviously I had researched the best place for brunch in Budapest and it told me it was Cirkusz. The reviews were spot on, and it sorted us right out.
Next, to the Great Market Hall. I remember going here all those 11 years ago, and being slightly overwhelmed by the amount of salami on offer. A really impressive building and an even more impressive amount of paprika available to buy! Naturally I bought a tin.
Onto St Stephen’s Basilica, a gorgeous building – you get neck ache in there! Goes without saying that it’s worth a visit!
I’d been dying to try one of the local delicacies – Kürtőskalács – AKA the Chimney Cake. It was huge, quite sickly, a bit tough, and quite expensive. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have bothered. You can see the size of it in this pic!
Day 2 was finished off with an amazing meal at KonvyBar & Restaurant. A small, quaint, friendly restaurant in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. The interior is like a library, and they base their menu off a book each month (KonvyBar is translated to Book Bar). The thought and dedication that goes into each course is amazing, and their service is everything you could want. I would happily give it 10/10 and would recommend anyone planning to visit Budapest to go there. Reasonably priced as well – £75 for the two of us to have 3 courses and wine, given the standard of the food!
The sun was shining!!! So to the top of a hill we went! Castle Hill, right behind our apartment. We lined our stomachs with Langos, a traditional Hungarian cuisine, it’s leavened dough fried in oil, basically like a big flat donut. So feeling slightly sick, we sauntered up the hill. The views were amazing.
The hill features Matthias Church, and we splashed out 3000HUF (£8.50…!) to go to the top of the tower. 194 steps up, and very narrow and steep. But 100% worth the panoramic views from the top. Fun fact: One of the bells in the tower weighs over 4 tonnes (4 tonnes!!!) so they only ring it 4 times a year!
Now the next place had been recommended to me by everyone I spoke to about Budapest. New York Cafe at Boscolo. It’s dubbed the most beautiful cafe in the world, and it is just breathtaking. It wasn’t cheap – £30 for two drinks and two cakes, but it was definitely worth the trip. Entertainment in there alternated between a pianist, and a small group of musicians, playing the violin, harp, piano and double bass, creating a fantastic atmosphere. Definite thumbs up from me, patisserie cakes to die for.
And as if we’d not had enough food for one day, we needed to have some goulash. Can’t go to Hungary and not have some goulash!! At a cool little street food place – Karavan – we spotted a bloke serving goulash in a loaf of bread. Yum. Goulash = ✔. Washed down with a quick pint in a bath tub back at Szimpla Kert, one of the amazing ruin pubs.
The weather turned on us on day 4, must’ve known it was home time. Fortunately we found a cute little coffee shop to sit in, really hipster little joint, hidden away in a courtyard behind a main road – Fekete Brew Bar – really nice coffee, and we chilled in there for ages without feeling any pressure to buy anything else.
As the rain was preventing us from doing any more exploring there was only one other thing to do – eat. And our final meal was a big one. Mazel Tov, part of the whole ruin pub scene in the Jewish quarter, a beautiful place, and the food was just great. It more than filled us up for the rest of the day, for our flight home.
It was a great little holiday, Budapest is a great place, as great as I remember, a lot of historic and beautiful buildings, some great restaurants, and some awesome views. View pictured below is from the Szechenyi Chain Bridge looking over to Buda.