Wednesday night we arrived in Budapest and quickly (and seamlessly may I add) found our place where we spent our first two nights. Lavender Circus Hostel was amazing. The entire décor was eclectic and retro with a mixture of cool items, painted walls, and hanging lights and decorations. It definitely was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen before. The girl working our first night in gave us a great recommendation to eat at Castro Bisztro and we had a fantastic meal there. Van and I are really into sharing meals right now. It seems like the best way to get to try the greatest amount of things here that we can in the limited time we have! We had a veal patty stuffed with dill and sheep milk cheese served with red onions, salted caramel and grilled potatoes and an order of beetroot patties because we truly are so happy to have vegetables again after Italy. We had a beer each and our bill totalled to just under 15 euros so like $22 cdn – soooo cheap! Unfortunately though we did not luck out with the weather here and it rained our first night and on and off over the next two days we spent there.
Budapest we learned is divided by the River Dunabe into Buda on the east side and Pest on the west side of the river. We spent the first day exploring Pest, the side of the city where our hostel was located. We went to the terror museum and saw the chain wall and the part of the Berlin wall that has been donated there, saw Heroes Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle. We wandered through City Park and saw the Széchenyi thermal baths but unfortunately due to our time constraint didn’t go in. I’ll have to go back again to do it. We walked back and stopped in Liszt Ference Square at Menzo’s for lunch and split a delicious cherry balsamic salad with goat cheese and a duck burger with Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, and a blueberry mayonnaise. Europe is going to make me fat.
Afterwards we went to the Parliament building and walked by the river, seeing the Holocaust memorial art piece of shoes along the river edge. The piece was done to remember the Budapest Jews who were lined up and shot into the river. They were forced to remove their shoes before they were executed though because shoes were valuable at the time hence the shoe art piece. It was a really moving and just so sad to learn about. Later we crossed over the Széchenyi Bridge and went for a drink at the For Sale Pub which was another cool pinterest find. The Hungarian language is something of itself; I don’t understand how so many z’s can be added to words or how so many consonants can go in a row! We finished the night with a walk by the river – we definitely managed to cover a lot of ground the first day… our steps were just over 38,000!
The next day we explored Buda. We started the day by hiking up to Fisherman’s Bastion and seeing Matthias church. The colors of the roof were so vivid and both buildings had a cool gothic meets Romanesque style to them. We had an amazing view of the Parliament and all of Pest for that matter from up top on the hill. It started to pour on our way over to the castle however, so we nipped into a café and tried our hand at some Hungarian desserts. The brittle cake was my favourite of the two we tried. Afterwards we walked around the outside of the castle before heading down the hill and back over the bridge to the Great Market Hall. Inside we tried some Hungarian food: Goulash soup and Langosh, deep fried bread with sour cream and cheese on top. It definitely was a food-based day because after we went for rose gelato and then I had a Paprikash chicken for dinner. We finished the night off by going to Szimpla Kert, a ruin pub recommended by the girl at the hostel. It was a cool design and layout, very similar to the hostel. There were two floors and multiple rooms all with different designs. Bikes, gnomes, and other random nic nacs hanged from the ceilings and the walls and a car was painted and gutted and used as a stand for a table. Honestly you could have spent days in there and would still find other things to look at. There was just so much going on. It was epic.
Two days in Budapest really wasn’t enough time. The city surpassed our expectations and left us pleasantly surprised. The buildings were beautiful and ornate, the roofs steeply sloped and brightly colored, the food was incredible with options for Hungarian or gastronomically inspired. It wasn’t busy at all compared to everywhere else we have been, was extremely reasonably priced, the people were friendly and all spoke English, and we never felt unsafe. I will definitely be coming back here one day I felt there was so many streets I didn’t get to see, so many foods that I ran out of time to try -Budapest definitely left us wanting more. It reminded me of Barcelona in a way but better – it’s definitely a place I could live in and Van felt the same way!