Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back from Budapest!

Ciao a tutti! Getting to explore Budapest was absolutely worth the painful 13 hour bus rides there and back. I’ve come to realize that when in a new place, the best way to experience it is through food! And so upon arriving in Budapest my friends and I headed straight for the Central Market to chow down on some local cuisine.

Coming from Italy’s almost vegetarian diet, it was nice to be back in a country that really appreciates its meat dishes. As our tour guide said, “In Budapest we eat meat with meat!” and they do indeed. For breakfast we were served hot dogs and bologna with toast, for lunch we dined on delicious beef goulash, and for dinner there was stuffed cabbage and garlic soup with chicken paprika. Of course we couldn’t miss out on the langos—a disc of fried dough covered in sour cream and shredded cheese. Nice and healthy, right? So delicious. And then there was the strudel. Apple strudels, cherry strudel, poppy seed strudel, sweet cottage cheese strudel with powdered sugar, even cabbage strudel—all were delicious and you really couldn’t buy one without going back for another.

During the few hours between meals we were out exploring both sides of the city. From Heroes Square to the Royal Palace and everywhere in between, the city sites were incredible. The architecture of Parliament and St. Steven’s Basilica was beautiful and at night the view of the Fisherman’s Bastion all lit up across the Danube River lent an almost fairytale-like sense to the whole city. While strolling through the Royal Palace we even got to try our hand at archery, something I’ve always wanted to do.

Unfortunately I’m not the natural I had hoped I would be, but it was extremely fun anyway. We also got the chance to try out one of Budapest’s oldest pastimes: going for a swim in one of the city’s thermal baths. We chose the Szechenyi bathhouse, the largest and most authentic in Budapest, and it was quite an experience. There were 3 huge outdoor pools, 12 thermal indoor baths and several hot saunas; we made sure to try out as many as we could.

On our last night in the city we went to this amazing bar called Szimpla in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest. It was unlike anywhere I had ever been or seen and I loved it! While there we couldn’t pass up the chance to try Palinka, a traditional Hungarian brandy made from fruit. Unfortunately it came time for our 13 hour bus ride home much sooner than we wanted and we had to leave the flavor fest behind us, but we were able to grab some pastries for the trip before we left. All in all an awesome weekend, hope you enjoy the pictures!

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