Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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"Clueless" In Budapest

Szia! This summer I traveled to Budapest and I'm sharing my "clueless" adventures of what to see/do and where/what to eat. As for where to stay I won't have much to offer because....

Ha! I wished I stayed there

I happen to know someone who is from Budapest who asked a close friend if I can crash for a few days. As much as I love to travel, I have yet to stay at an Airbnb. All the -ism's and the -tion's made me stay away completely. Especially, with the most recent one with the guest being thrown down the stairs for checking out late. 

My stay there was totally worth it. I was very thankful for having a place to stay even though my host didn't know me very well. It's true what they say... sometimes who you know can help you along whatever journey you're on. 

*Now back to my regularly scheduled program*

Budapest is the combination of once independent cities Buda and Pest. The two cities is divided by the Danube River. Buda is more of a hillside city, while Pest is a flat modern city. The two came together to form Hungary's capital and most populous city, Budapest. The history of this country goes back thousands of years. Budapest is also home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. You'll be gazing every step of the way.

There is so much history here. If you're a history buff, you'll absolutely love it here. To be able to see, touch, and feel some of the history here is a feeling that will never be forgotten. When nighttime falls, the city is even more beautiful. The Buda side is quiet while Pest is the spot for nightlife. Below I'm sharing some of my own top must see/do spots. However, it's not a full list because there's just so much to see and do here.

What To See and Do:
Hero's Square

Chain Bridge- This bridge served people who were crossing the bridge back in 1849 until it was blown up by the Nazi's then rebuilt to the beauty that it is today.
Central Market Hall- A gothic style building built in 1897 and offers the widest selections of goods.
Liberty Bridge- Constructed in 1894 was known as Franz Joseph Bridge then renamed Liberty Bridge after World War II and is the shortest bridge in Budapest.

On top of the Cave Church looking at the Liberty Bridge

Margaret Island- Named after Princess Margaret is a popular place to get away and just relax. Nature lovers will love this spot.
Hero's Square- History set in stone. This monument was built in 1896 to celebrate the anniversary of the Hungarian conquest. The seven statues are leaders of the tribes. The middle statute is of Arpad, who was the leader of the Hungarian tribes. Right behind them are statues of notable Kings and Princes during that time.
Parliament- A notable landmark where laws are made, passed, rejected, and more. In other words the gub'ment y'all.

Central Market Hall

Buda Castle- The history of this castle dates back to the 14th century and has gone through many restorations. It was badly damaged during World War II then restored and is now home to the Hungarian National Gallery.
St. Stephen's Basilica- The largest cathedral in the city. Named after Hungary's founder King Stephen. The holy right hand of King Stephen is also located inside the Basilica.
Szechenyi Bath- One of the largest and beautiful bath in Budapest. There's 3 outdoor and about 15 indoor pools, saunas, and other services such as massages. This place is dope AF.

Margaret Island enjoying the outdoors

I have to stop somewhere with this list. If I don't it will go on and on. I enjoyed them all but my absolute favorite thing to do was....

Szechenyi Bath. I've always wanted to do this and I finally got the chance to do so. This place is gorgeous and totally worth coming back to again and again. I did the thermal bath, sauna, and the fun pool area. *scratches off bucket list*

Skanzen Open Air Museum

I was invited to go on a day trip to Szentendre. Szentendre is about an hour away from Budapest and is a historic, charming, and colorful town. Before heading out there, we made a pit stop to an open air museum. The purpose of this museum is to share what life was like in the countryside during the 18th century. 

There were actors re-enacting their life from that time period. We explored and took a horse carriage ride around the museum. I got to pet the horses and tell me why I had the urge to give them a bomb twist out. 😝 Anyways, I was on my best behavior. Afterwards, we headed to the town for lunch. There's not a lot of traffic in this town because the streets are very narrow and can only be explored on foot. 

Goulash and Rakott Palacsinta with Red Wine as my drink

Where and What To Eat:
A spot all foodies will enjoy (plant based too)

Foodies where y'all at? I know every destination has their tourist traps with overpriced bland tasting foods. I've fallen victim to this trap quite a few times. I really hate when that happens. However, I was able to find some really good traditional Hungarian foods in and around the downtown area.

When I pointed out some of the signs advertising "traditional" foods, I was told that's how they get you. Thanks to my personal tour guide who knew what was crap and what was the real deal. I found that some of the better tasting foods were steps away from these tourist traps. The saying... go where the locals go is so true. When it comes to food my greedy self don't play. 😋

Goulash- Hungary's national dish is a stew of meat and vegetables loaded with paprika and other spices.

Palacsintas- Crepe like pancakes served with different types of fruit fillings and/or cream cheese. The most popular one is the Gundel Palacsintas filled with walnuts and chocolate sauce.

Toltott Kaposzta- Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage and it had me stuffed. LordT! It was so delish.

Szilva Leves- Plum fruit soup topped with almonds and served cold. I seriously thought I wasn't going to like it but my taste buds proved me wrong. There are several different fruit soups to choose from.

Langos- is a popular year round fried dough that is topped with sour cream and grated cheese. There are many different options to choose from, but I went with the traditional one. Yum!

My eating was *50 Cent voice* just a lil' bit outta control. Stay tuned for a follow up post on how I balanced it out. 

*makes way over to one of the most beautiful cafe's in the world*

New York Cafe 

You fancy huh? A visit to the New York Cafe is not to be missed. It is known as one of the most beautiful cafe's in the world. I walked in and saw no lies. I ordered from the dessert menu. I'm not much of a dessert person but... when in Rome Budapest. I ordered a desert cake with apricot ice cream then downed it with a lavender rose drink. Was that a good combo? Anyways, this beautifully decorated legendary cafe was a popular spot for writers, poets, and artists. 

Random Pics and Tips:
Subway Station

-Budapest is a very walker friendly city, but look both ways while crossing the street. These speedy drivers though.
-There's also a really good transportation system. However, some buses have AC others do not. The trams and subways don't AC at all.
-It was hot, hot, hot. But there was a cold from that lasted for about 2 days while I was there and it was nice not having to sweat for that time period. As a just in case, bring some chilly weather clothes.

A cast iron shoe memorial along the banks of the river (near the Parliament) for the victims that were asked to take off their shoes then shot by arrow cross militia men and drowned in the Danube River during World War II.

Saw quite a few of these arts on buildings. If you ever had and/or heard of the rubik cube, guess where it was invented?

FINA Budapest on Margaret Island

I just happened to be here while the FINA Budapest World Championship was going on. There was a FREE fan zone area for those who didn't have tickets to the arena can enjoy. I figured why not participate. It's not everyday I get to experience something like this. There was food and other vendors selling their goods. Fans were able to catch the water polo game on a jumbo screen. Musical band The Biebers (yes, I'm assuming they named themselves after Justin) performed. 

Once night time fell, it was time to watch the game on the screen. It was like watching a basketball game but the players are in the water. Each time Hungary scored the fans chanted Ria Ria Hungaria! The exciting energy was felt throughout the zone area. Hungary played Greece and won to advance to the finals. 

Szimpla Kert

This was another one of my favorites. The ruin bar area is one of the hottest spots in Budapest. It's an old abandoned apartment complex that is now home to trendy bars, a farmer's market (Sunday's), sustainable restaurants, community garden, film screenings, and more. I'm having the hardest time trying to describe this area because it's just so different. I mean that in a good way. 

It's like a place that's supposed to be underground but it's not. There's an 80's graffiti vibe with some of the dopest street food and drinks. Once the sun goes down, it turns into one of the most popular nightspots. Even if you're not into the bar scene (I'm not) I would recommend checking it out. The Karavan Food and Beer Garden is just steps away from Szimpla Kert. The whole entire block is a must do, see, and eat area. *Terminator voice* I'll be back. 

House of Terror Museum

The House of Terror building was once the headquarters for the Nazi's and then the Soviet's. Now turned to a museum to honor the victims. 

Crossing the Chain Bridge en route to the Hungarian National Gallery

My time in Budapest was coming to an end. I spent my last day touring part of the city solo. My tour guide had errands to run and it was the perfect time for me to practice what I preach. I got out of my comfort zone and was off to my adventure. I made my way over to the Buda side to treat myself to the Hungarian National Gallery located inside Buda Castle. Getting to the top of the castle ain't no joke but it was a good workout. The gallery is one of the largest collections of Hungarian fine arts. I went from floor to floor looking at the different exhibits. 

I saw and did a lot but I'm pretty sure I missed a few spots. I'm a slow traveler. I like to stop, look, read, and immerse myself in the culture. I got left behind quite a few times because of this. 😂

The Last  Supper

My last  Hungarian meal was Turos Csusza and Paprikas Csirke. My host said I have a good appetite but it doesn't show on my small frame. 😋 Apologies in advance for not having enough pics of this. I was never trained on how to eat and take pics at the same time. My greedy self was too busy focused on getting the food in my tummy.

Turos Csusza- Pasta with farmers cheese and sour cream topped with bacon pieces.
Paprikas Csirke- Chicken with paprika. It was full of flavor and other spices. Paprika is the national spice of Hungary. 

I know when most people think of European cities to visit London and Paris are at the top of the list. I have yet to visit and they are most definitely on my list. But, I'm here to say add Budapest too. You won't regret it. 

Shout out to my chargers. I got these all-in-one chargers several years ago and they kept me charged up. The one on the right is the real MVP. It hasn't failed me yet. I didn't really need the other one but as a "just in case", I brought it along. I love how I can easily switch to whatever country I'm in and charge away. The outlets are different in certain parts of the world, so don't forget to bring one with you while traveling. 

And that is the end of my trip to Budapest. Stay tuned for my next "clueless" adventure. The journey continues...


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