A beauty called Budapest story continues

Who says Budapest (or Hungary), says thermal baths… they are just inseparable. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to try one of the many famous bath houses in Budapest, or better it was just too hot outside. With an outside temperature of 36°C at 11a.m. the last thing I think about is going into an even hotter bath :-). It is true that most of these bath houses also have a regular (cold) swimming pool, but it just wouldn’t be the same… but now I at least have already 1 excuse to go back to Budapest (another reason you’ll find out later in this post).

The most famous bath house for me was the Széchenyi thermal bath as it got used in lots of Hollywood productions  I even think in one ‘The Simpsons’ episode (but not 100% sure)).  You might also know it as they mostly use the image of the people playing chess while sitting in the water. The real reason it is famous is because it is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs, their temperature is between 74 °C and 77 °C. And every type of bath has a different medicinal effect.

Széchenyi thermal bathhouse

Széchenyi thermal bath (2)

Széchenyi men playing chess

Széchenyi thermal bath (3)

A few other well-known therminal bath houses are Gellért (most expensive one) , Király and Rudas. There are obviously many more, but these are just the most famous ones.  Lots of these bath houses are actually part of the heritage from the time the Turks ruled over Hungary…. but read all about the history on this wikipage. It must be said that the therminal bath are located in some very beautiful buildings!

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Gellert bath house (2)

Rudas bath

All the visiting and walking obviously made me very hungry and believe it or not, but Budapest has a lot to offer on gastronomical level (something I really didn’t expect). A dish you just have to eat while you stay in Budapest (or Hungary) is Hungarian Goulash, I think there is no more typical dish (besides Foie gras and fish soup for some reason). I only had it once for dinner, I don’t know if it was the best Goulash  (served with sour cream and a pickle) in town, but good enough for the first night in Budapest :-). I had it in a back street restaurant called M restaurant. No fancy place, just honest food and friendly service all one need on the first evening….  If you would go there I do recommend the Chocolate dessert with a bit of chili in it.

M restaurant

M restaurant Goulash M restaurant pickle and sour cream

M restaurant Chocolate cake

There are a few other restaurants we tried I want to share with you. The first one is restaurant Baldaszti (part of the Baldaszti group) which is located Andrássy útca, which apparently is one of the fanciest streets in Budapest (the fancy shops did make a bell ring 🙂 ). Anyhow we had a lovely lunch and It was actually here I discovered that Hungarian food is more than Goulash and they also make refined food combined with very friendly service. I took the asparagus variation, nettle, coconut espuma and an at 64° poached egg. My fiancée chose the marinated salmon with a fennel tabouleh salad. Some really great food and an ideal lunch! We both combined this  with some lovely rosé wines (the sun makes me want to drink rosé) and I was again very happy to see so many Hungarian wines on the wine list!! In case you want to know we had the 2012 BÁRDOS ÉS FIA Rosé Cuvée and the 2012 SAUSKA Rosé. They were both good, but the Bárdos had that little something extra… Afterwards we also had a heavenly dessert aka sweet cottage cheese souffle with strawberries (those hungarians are masters in making dessert!)

Baldaszti (2)

Baldaszti me

Baldaszti Boardos wine

Baldaszti  salmon fennel salad

Baldaszti olive oil

Baldaszti my dish

Baldaszti  dessert

The second restaurant is one we did with my fiancée’s uncle and is located a few steps from the Széchenyi bath house. This restaurant was called “Robinson”.  I liked it as is right at a little “pond” and on a hot day a little breeze always feels nice.  On top of that they also served some nice food, more classical dishes, but this doesn’t make them less good of course :-).  Even though it was hot me and my fiancée’s uncle went for the” borjú paprikás tojásos galuska” aka Veal stew with egg dumplings and a garden salad… and my fiancée just took a salad. And again we had some killer desserts.  I finished with the carrot cake (which I love) and my fiancée with the New York cheese cake, raspberry sorbet.

Robinson

Robinson (2)

Robinson (3)

Robinson Borju

Robinson carrot cake

Robinson cheesecake

In case you like top gastronomy a visit to restaurant Onyx, unfortunately I wasn’t able to try this restaurants (reason 2 to go back Budapest). But a very reliable source (Bram and Ingrid from pazzo) told me this is a restaurant worth trying.  They have 1 Michelin star and the chef was finalist of the Bocuse d’or contest.

Onyx

The last I want to share with you is  Big fish. Big fish is as the name might already reveal a fish restaurant. On the wall they have a huge black board which is actually the menu or better the list of fish you can order, the list goes from salmon to sea bass… everything is prepared in the simplest way (on the grill) leaving you the real taste of the fish without any heavy sauces and all… I’ll be honest I when I saw fish and freshly made chips on the menu I was really craving for it (I know what a barbarian). My fiancée want for a lighter meal and took grilled salmon with a garden salad… A popular dish I saw on many tables were the Blue Mussels . The profiterol dessert also looked tempting, but my woman didn’t share 🙂

Big fish

Big fish fish & chips  Big fish salmon

Big fish profiterol

To make a long story short, Budapest is a city that has a lot to offer and I’m sure everybody will find something of its liking. I am very convinced I will be back in Budapest, not sure when, but I’ll be back (said in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator way 🙂 )

BTW in case you were wondering, I stayed at the Novotel Budapest Centrum, which was located really central to get everywhere and few steps from all public transport. (Behind corner the New York Café).

Novotel Budapest Centrum

Oh sorry forgot to mention, for the food and market lovers, a walk in the Great Market Hall is nice 🙂

Budapest Great Market Hall

Great hall (2) Great hall (3)

Great Hall (4)

Now I’ll stop talking although there is much more to tell… but exploring it yourself will be nicer 😉

A beauty called Budapest

Just came home from a very nice holiday. My holiday was divided into 2 parts, the first and main part was to my beloved Zia Livia (that you might remember from some previous blog posts) and for some reason she always seems to think I never eat and feels the need to almost stuff me like a turkey :-)… So basically just the way I like it 😉

Budapest

The second part of my holiday brought me (and my fiancée of course) to Budapest. This is the second time I travel to Eastern Europe and it is the second time I get enchanted! (Last year I had to go to Prague for work). I got  first of all enchanted because the city is really beautiful, but secondly because I had a completely wrong image in my head from Eastern Europe…and I honestly think lots of people have this wrong image. In my head I pictured old buildings, everybody still driving a Trabant and I won’t even mention the eating habits I had in mind 🙂  I KNOW, so wrong!! Just like last year in Prague, this year in Budapest was an eye opener how modern this city is and how well it combines it with all the richness and breathtaking heritage from the past centuries and how they still keep improving!

Trabant

If I would have to compare Budapest with other cities; I would compare it with a mix of Vienna and Paris… I even believe they even call it the Paris from the East. (I would choose Budapest over Paris without any doubt!)

This might also be the first time that I have no idea which words I can use to express the beauty of this city, but I’ll try my best to find them.  I think the best way to start is with a picture that for me represents the greatness and beauty of Budapest (and for me one of the most impressive buildings in the world.

Budapest Parliament

Believe me when you have that building right in front of you it is even more incredible. Budapest  of course has lots more beautiful buildings like the Buda palace (Royal palace), Saint Stephen’s Basilica, Museum of Applied Arts or the bridges over the Danube.

Budapest Great Market Hall

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The strangest thing I saw Budapest was King Stephen I’s right hand is housed in the reliquary in the Saint Stephen’s Basilica. The hand still it in very good shape, considering it is from the 10th century, but it is kind of creepy (for some reason it makes me think of “THING” from the Addams family, sorry I know this might be inappropriate).

Saint Stephen Basilica

Saint Stephen reliquary

In case the hand might be too much for you, there is a great wine bar right next to the Basilica aka Divino (thanks again to Bram and Ingrid from Pazzo for the tip!!). This wine bar is both bar and shop where if wanted you can also have little bite. What I like about all the restaurants and bars I visited in Budapest is that 90% of the wine (or products in general) they serve is Hungarian!! Talking about pride for local products, I love it!! (If Belgians would only be as proud of their products).  As it was very sunny our choice went to rosé, but I’m pretty sure everybody will find its choice at Divino’s

Divino 3

Divino

Divino 2

Like on many previous city trips my fiancée and me decided to take the “hop on, hop off” bus to get a general view of the city. For me this is really the best way to plan your next days in a city you haven’t visited before… I know it is hard to get over the fact that in this case you’ll look like the Über tourist, but what the hell nobody knows you there anyway!!!  AND in the prices there is also a boattrip on the Danube included…

Of course like every big city, Budapest also has its “problems”, but I have the impression they have it under control and they didn’t really bother me too much (like the homeless people on the streets).

Thanks to my fiancée ‘s uncle (who lives in Budapest), we got to see something that I’m pretty sure if he wouldn’t have brought us we wouldn’t have visited. He took us up the János Hill to have a 360° view over the city and its surroundings from the highest point of Budapest (526m) on the Elizabeth kilátó (aka Belvedere Tower).  It might take you a while to get there if you walk up there just like us, but it is worth it… first of all as you get to walk in a forest en secondly the view from up there is breathtaking and it is only than that you get to see how big and especially how green Budapest it (check pictures below). No worries, for those who don’t feel like walking up, there also motorized ways to get up there ;-).( public transport) I do recommend taking the chairlift back down.

Elizabeth kilátó

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Overview of Budapest 2

Overview of Budapest

To be continued with more stories about this great city and the njammy food I had….