July 15, 2013

Budapest - What to Eat, Drink & Do

Széchenyi Bath in City Park, Budapest / July 2013
* It's 10am, I spent 8 hours on a train without sleep, I just lugged 30 kg of suitcase/handbag 1km uphill in the wrong direction and almost got hit by a car. Bear with me.

To say I am obsessed with Budapest would be a huge understatement - it is some fierce competition for Porto as the best five days of my trip to date. I covered 60km of the city by foot, drank lots of pálinka, got lost in the city at 2am on Saturday morning and spent the rest of my time marinating in the baths. My actual idea of perfection. 

Batthyáni Square Market Hall - On the second floor of the central markets you will find a little food court with a row of food stores. They all serve a variety of traditional Hungarian dishes (and mojitos?) for a few euros. In all honesty, I didn't eat out much in Budapest because the main feature of most Hungarian dishes is the meat. Seafood isn't a big thing in Hungary, and I just couldn't be bothered trying to decipher menus so I cooked most of my dinners at home. Regardless, I definitely recommend the market canteens. They food is really tasty, you get a huge stacked up plate and it costs you next to nothing.

Szimpla Kert - If you haven't already heard, 'ruin bars' are all the rage in Budapest. They are essentially old warehouses and apartment blocks that have been filled with an eclectic mix of decor and mismatched vintage furniture, and transformed into pubs and beer gardens. Szimpla is by far the most popular (and for good reason.) There is such a cool vibe in the space - it spans across two levels and has several different rooms, there is a huge outdoor area, movies are projected onto screens around the venue, drinks are reasonably priced, you can smoke shisha, the list goes on. 

Ellátó Kert - Technically another ruin bar / open-air bar, this gets a big double thumbs up from me because it's also a taqueria and there is nothing better than a mexican midnight snack when you're drunk. They have several different tacos (with cool fillings like hongo mushroom) and DELICIOUS dips, so definitely get a couple plates of nachos. This bar is also very reasonably priced and has some yummy cocktails! 

Thermal Baths - Anybody who knows me is aware of my spa fixation, it could come close to a psychological problem because I cannot get enough of them. I honestly wanted to extend my time in Budapest to visit more baths. I am so grateful to the universe for the Ottoman rule in Hungary, the city without the Turkish influence of the baths is a city I don't want to imagine.
I don't think I have quite washed the smell out sulphur out of my hair yet, here is a little outline on the baths I made it out to during my stay.
Széchenyi: By far the biggest of the baths in Budapest (I think it's also the largest in Europe), it was a maze to navigate through the building and it was very crowded. The staff weren't the most accommodating but I guess it must get tiring having hundreds of English speakers asking where the lockers are every hour.
Gellért: Probably the nicest of the baths I visited, the outdoor area was so serene and was the perfect scene for relaxation. The baths are part of a hotel so there are lots of tourists here and children occupy the big wave pool, however if I had to choose, I would visit here over Széchenyi.
Király: This bath was probably my favourite because at any given time there wasn't more than 8 people in the centre. The bath was originally built in the 1500s, it's tiny and hidden away - it's not much to look at from the outside but inside the baths it's spectacular and gives a feel as to how the authentic bath experience would have been in the past. 

My room is ready - I need sleep now. Love xx

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