Categories: HungaryTravel

Exploring Budapest, Part 1

We are now finally moving out of Finland, at least virtually.

My next weekend trip took me to Budapest, somewhere I always wanted to go, but never made it passed the airport. I had very high expectations, having heard lots of wonderful things about this city, and I have to say the feelings were a bit mixed. But lets start from the beginning.

We ventured to Budapest at the end of August, one of the hottest weekends on record.

Having booked our hotel earlier, we only had to figure out transportation from Bratislava, which was fairly easy with a comfy a cheap Regiojet bus complete with touch screens and wifi.

Few hours and a couple of movies later, we were already entering the suburbs of Budapest.

Not that I’m a posh architecture enthusiast, but I felt like we were sitting in a time machine being transported into Ukraine in the 80s. Grey, falling apart building blocks and a rather depressive-looking streets were a stark contrast to the flashy shopping streets you see in central city.

I have traveled through a few rough neighborhoods, including those in London, but the drive through the suburbs made quite an impression on me, and not in a good light.

We got a taxi from the bus station straight to the hotel.

And what a beauty it was, judge yourself!

PS: It’s the Prestige Hotel in Budapest and I will report on that later!

To celebrate our arrival and calm our hungry stomachs, we ventured to the first available spot in a restaurant by the river. In a true tourist fashion, we fell into the first tourist trap we came across.

Lady guarding the stand with the menu lured us in and we were later feasting on overpriced poor quality food.

Thank God it’s hard to spoil the wine at least.

After crowning ourselves amateur tourists, we thought we would beat the crowds and take a walk to the local market.

Hosted in an impressive historic building which reminded me of an old train station, the market was buzzing with stalls and people trying to get their weekend shopping done.

It was a nice hiding spot from the heat outside.

We found a little restaurant on the top floor, and took the seats to do a bit of people watching while tasting the local cuisine.

As soon as we sat down, Unicum arrived on the table. Made from over 40 herbs and all natural ingredients, its almost a medicine. It is being matured in wooden barrels, same process as for ages wines. That doesn’t mean it tastes as nice as wine, don’t get me wrong.

You really need to flash it down with something else, like beer.

If you need a tip for a nice grandma gift from Budapest, try Unicum and tell her it’s good for her stomach. Worked on my one!

After an afternoon of people watching, drinking ridiculously bitter alcohol and pretending to understand Hungarian, we ventured back to the hotel to book our dinner.

Our hotel recommended a place specialised in sea food, and favoured by Russian customers, so we were keen to try it out.

The place was just by the entrance to the old town- Arany Kaviar Restaurant.

We were greeted by an army of staff and seated in a corner table. The immaculately decorated interior made me feel like we are attending some art exhibition. The menu was equally impressive.

In addition to extensive wine list, there were two full pages of Champagne options, both traditional and vintage.

We started with a few bites of freshly baked absolutely delicious bread.

Compliments from chef for each table, this little feast for the eyes was a delicious entry to the dinner.

below: starter of wild boar meat filled pelmeli

below: starter of kohlrabi soup with trout and goat cheese, a rather exotic choice with lots of delicate flavours.

For main courses, we had beef steak stroganoff and I had a white fish with gnochi and chantarelle mushrooms, both very delicious and beautifully presented.

For full menu of the restaurant, you can check this link.

As we stuffed our faces with bread, starters and main, there was only a bit of room left for a coffee and a few sweets.

If you’re looking for a dinner place for a special occasion, I would certainly recommend Arany Kaviar – it is a fine dining restaurant, but they have a few options to choose from if you don’t want to spend a fortune. The staff is extremely friendly and happy to advise about food and fulfill all your wishes.

From there it’s just a short walk and you are back by the river, to view the evening light show in Budapest. Somehow I feel like the city looks better at night, when all the lights and colours get together to play.

And because the food and drinks didn’t knock us out yet, we stopped over by a bar close to our hotel to toast to a great start of a new weekend adventure.

More from Budapest later, I hope you’re not getting bored with the food and drinks yet!

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