Weekend in Budapest

18 Sep

Budapest, Hungary

I’ve come to realise that one of the best things about living in Geneva is its central location in Europe and close proximity to other cities. And with EasyJet flying to most major cities in Europe we have so many opportunities to discover the many interesting countries that make up Europe. We’ve made a plan to travel to a new destination one weekend per month and September saw us spending a 2 short days in Budapest.

We flew in early Saturday morning and started our tour in Buda with a walk through the Castle Quarter, a Unesco World Heritage site. There are two parts to the Castle Quarter;

The Royal Palace

The Old Town

We stopped at this delightful cafe right next to the 19th Century Matthias Church. Unfortunately there were several weddings taking place at the church that prevented us for exploring the interior of the church. The beautifully tiled roof is certainly impressive and I can only imagine what the inside must be like. But back to our coffee stop. Hungary has a great pastry tradition and we make sure that we fully immerse ourselves in the local culture and tradition when visiting a foreign country, particularly with regard to the food. So we certainly weren’t going to miss out on an opportunity to eat cake!! Ruszwurm Cukrászda is a tiny cafe and popular too. Every table was full from the time we arrived to the time we left. I must have spent at least 15 minutes drooling over all the cakes and pastries on offer before I finally decided what I wanted. It’s hard being indecisive 🙂 I pick a Budapest classic, the Gerbeaud Szelet; a delicate cake with layers of sweet pastry, ground walnuts, apricot jam, cocoa and rich, dark chocolate glaze.Yum, yum, yum!

Ruszwurm

Ruszwurm

From this side of the Danube you have a beautiful view of the Pest side of Budapest with the prominent Parliament House in full sight and of course the famous Szechenyi Chain Bridge. Parliament House is Hungary’s largest building and was unfortunately under renovation during our visit. The Szechenyi Chain Bridge was constructed in 1849 and is the city’s oldest and most beautiful bridge.

After a full morning of walking the streets of Buda, we headed down to Pest for a relaxing afternoon at the Széchenyi thermal baths in City Park. With 3 outdoor pools, 15 indoor pools (from 32 degree thermal baths to 14 degree plunge pools), 6 sauna’s, 2 steam rooms, and a host of spa treatments this 1900s building has something for everyone. We had a lot of fun jumping from one thermal pool to another thermal pool to the sauna then a plunge pool then another thermal pool.

On Sunday morning we were off on a tour of the Jewish Synagogue and the Jewish Quarter. Abounding in history and with streets that have many stories to tell, the Jewish Quarter is not to be missed and taking a guided tour will certainly mean you do not miss out on any of the small details.

Lunch was at the super cool, organic and vegetarian restaurant in the Erzsébetváros Quarter called Napfényes Étterem. I didn’t get any photos of this place but it is definitely worth checking out if you are sightseeing along Andrássy út or near Herows Square. Andrássy út is a superb tree-lined boulevard, also on the Unesco World Heritage listing, and where you will find Hungary’s dedication to music and theatre at the Hungarian State Opera House, the New Theatre and the nearby Franz Liszt Memorial Museum.

Our day would not be complete without trying a few more Hungarian specialties. This time at the Fröhlich Cukrászda, a kosher cake shop and cafe in the former Jewish ghetto. I was tempted by another Hungarian traditional cake and an old Jewish favourite, flódni, a scrumptious three-layer cake with apple, walnut and poppy-seed fillings.

For our last night we found ourselves in the area of the Basilica of St Stephen (Szent István Bazilika), a neoclassical cathedral built during the 19th Century. We didn’t have the chance to see inside the Basilica but its facade and presence in this small square is rather impressive. Two very satisfying and delicious things were found in this square; hamburgers and gelato! Have you ever seen gelato in the shape of a flower? From Gelarto Rosa (appropriately named), I thought this was so cool and although it wasn’t exactly warm enough to be eating gelato I just had to have one!

Dear Budapest, our visit was but fleeting. And so we shall return one day to find other treasures in this beautiful city.

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2 Responses to “Weekend in Budapest”

  1. Pankaj Jyoti Barua September 18, 2013 at 10:47 #

    Enjoyed reading your post…I have never been to Budapest but now I think I will have to go…The photographs are brilliant…Very well composed…Tells so much about the place and your experience….
    http://globalsafari.wordpress.com/

    • cheesevegemite September 20, 2013 at 13:32 #

      Thank you Pankaj! I would definitely recommend visiting Budapest.

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