Thanksgiving in Budapest
Lately, the posts I’ve been meaning to write have been backing up like crazy. We went to Karlsbad, Czechia in August, Ireland and Scotland in September, Budapest, Hungary for Thanksgiving, and most recently, a ski trip to Wagrain, Austria. All of which I have yet to write about. So the travelling hasn’t stopped, but the writing seems to have been put on hold for a while.
This week is my attempt to recap a few of these trips we’ve taken.
Budapest is everything that a big city should be. Grand architecture, shopping, a big river (the Danube) that runs straight through the city, separating Buda and Pest, and a wide assortment of food choices, spas, and the famous ruin pubs. While our two and a half day trip didn’t leave room for everything on my list, we were able to see a lot. And as always, we walked (and ate) our way through many of Budapest’s different neighborhoods.
The Terror Museum
It was interesting learning about Hungary’s communist and fascist occupation during the 1900’s. I’d have to say the museum was more of an “experience” rather than having different exhibits, where you could wander freely. You walked a set path, where you essentially re-lived the history of Hungary’s communist and fascist regimes through videos, artifacts, and (a lot) of reading. I must say that it was great learning about Hungary’s history, but I felt like I was in a history class. I think it’s a good idea to touch up on WW2 history before you go. Did I say there was a lot of reading? There was A LOT of reading. At the start of each exhibit, they had printed sheets which you were supposed to read to understand the background behind the exhibit. I think you could have rented the audio guide for extra money, but we opted out. It wasn’t my favorite museum, but I think history buffs will really enjoy it.
St. Stephen’s Basilica
I wanted to visit St. Stephen’s Basilica mainly for the famed views from the top. We climbed the 350+ steps to the top, and were a bit winded by the time we got there. But the views didn’t disappoint. I’m always up to hike a bit for a nice view. The panoramic view lets you see all of Budapest.
Hungarian State Opera House
We weren’t planning on visiting the opera house, but stumbled upon it on our way to the Terror Museum. They were offering short guided tours, so we decided to go. It was a beautiful building built in a neo-Renaissance style with elements of Baroque. The opera house has some of the best acoustics in the world, and was home to famous composers like Mahler and Liszt. I think the pictures speak for themselves.
Randy and I went to Budapest after our friends had been raving about ruin pubs for months. We actually stumbled upon a really cool one called Szimpla Kert on our first night in Budapest. Basically, a ruin bar or pub is part of the underground bar scene (although not so underground anymore). They’re usually built in an old abandoned building in the Jewish Quarter and they are all unique but have a hip, artsy, laid-back vibe. After doing some research, I learned that these only started popping up about 10 years ago, and Szimpla Kert was the mecca of all ruin pubs. What do ya know?! We found an old piano in one of the many nooks of Szimpla Kert, ordered a drink, and sat down and played for a few hours. It was so nice to get my hands on some keys (finally!), and Randy and I had a good time improv-ing/singing along to chords.
Did I mention that I’m always down to hike a bit for a nice view? Insert: Gellert Hill. It’s a hill right on the other side of the Danube (the ‘Pest’ side). You can’t miss it. We got some beautiful views of the city lights, but it wasn’t the clearest day.
When you think of food in Budapest, what comes to mind? I think of stuffed cabbage rolls, beef goulash, chicken paprikash, langos (delicious fried dough with cheese and sour cream on top). Well.. I had it all. It was delicious. I think the whole weekend, I was in a constant state of food belly. For Thanksgiving dinner, we went out to a very nice restaurant with some friends we bumped into on the plane. It was called Bistro Fine, and oh was it so fine ;). It’s not your typical Hungarian food, but we had a beautiful 3 course meal with a bottle of wine to share.
If there’s one thing I wish we would have done, it was to go to one of the many famous spa baths in Budapest. But after a weekend of eating and drinking, my bloated self wasn’t quite feeling up to donning a bathing suit. It’s definitely still on my list for next time!