Budapest has got such a good vibe!
We stayed in this great wee Airbnb that was set back from the roads up on the 6th floor, looking out over the chimneys and rooftops of Pest towards Gellert hill over the river in Buda (I thought it was a joke when my mum said Budapest was an amalgamation of two different cities, but it is actually true). The resident cats on this block came in one size: extra large and extra fluffy.
We arrived around dinner time and I did a quick search for local cheap eats (a rare treat to eat out as we have mostly been cooking for ourselves to save money). This search led us to a little basement restaurant, traditionally decked out in wood panelling and chequered red and white table cloths. Only one thing was missing…other diners…apart from one very large man in the corner who seemed to be having issues breathing and eating at the same time. Happily, in addition to this romantic ambiance, the food was delicious; from the paprika coloured goulash to the schnitzel Hugo chose that was the size of a dinner plate (that was considered the small one), to the £1 glasses of Hungarian wine.
Another city, another walking tour. This one was excellent, taking us through both Buda and Pest. What our lovely guide lacked in height, she made up for in enthusiasm and she was keen to share stories and help us learn some useful words in Hugarian like “kusenom” for thank you and “kate bort kirek” for glasses of wine, language essentials. She also imparted on us the longest word she knew in Hungarian, which went on for at least 30 seconds non-stop and was this big long story about how, “because you hadn’t planned ahead and planted any cabbages this year, we wouldn’t be having any cabbage for dinner and it was all your fault”. I love stuff like that. Silly you forgetting the important annual cabbage planting.
That night we went to the only corner shop open in the whole of Budapest, or so it felt, bought a nice Hungarian red wine and some old wizened vegetables (no cabbages though, looks like our guide was right) that looked like they had been there since the turn of the century and made some beetroot stew thing that took so long to cook, all the wine was gone and we had stopped caring what it tasted like.
The next day we chilled out in the Széchenyi Baths. It was packed but still good fun to swap between all the different pools and saunas, trying not to squeal when taking a dip in the cold ones, and then read in the sunshine if the main courtyard. Hugo and I have now swapped books so I am reading his copy of Remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro.
After that we tried out one of the famous “ruined bars” in the Jewish quarter. It felt like something all the people in shoreditch have been trying to recreate over the past few years, all shabby and kitted out with some great finds from charity shops and people’s attics. I felt pretty cool sitting there, although it was dfinitely a mistake to choose wine, uuuurgh like vinegar.
We spent most of the next day taking advantage of the wifi in our little flat to plan the next weeks of travelling. This was our last stop in Europe and coming to the end of the section of our trip that was planned or thought about much. We took a break from planning to walk up Gellert hill for a fantastic view over this lovely city.
Time to say goodbye to Europe – at a gruelling 3am the next morning, we made our way to the airport to catch a flight to Tel Aviv…