I looooooved Budapest. It was partly because Budapest is just a really awesome city, partially because the food was incredible, and partly because of our totally awesome hosts Amanda and Laszlo. It was a blast!
Since we hit Eastern Europe, we have been going through what Dave calls Meatox. It's been all meat all the time. Honestly, I would not be eating a fraction as well if I weren't eating meat, it's pretty meatcentric but totally delicious! It was no different in Budapest, so naturally, we bought some sausage and it would blow your mind.
As is the Hungarian tradition, we went to the baths. Amanda took us to the Szczesny baths and they were incredible. 'Baths' is a scary word, it sounds like everyone is going to wash themselves in a communal bathtub, but it's actually more like going to a spa at the fraction of the cost. Szczesny was a series of pools at different temperatures infused with minerals or green tea or sulfur salt (relieving to know because the smell of bad eggs near a pool is a bit disconcerting), plus a minty steam room, a sauna, a lazy river (!!!) and a whirlpool, all set in and outside of these amazing old Roman buildings.
We did all of this while Amanda's fiancée Laszlo was at home slaving away in the kitchen making us goulash. The real deal. It was heaven. Absolute heaven. I thought it tasted like Meat Butter. AND you get to eat it with pickles. Laszlo is an amazing cook!
Other fun food that we tried:
Lángos, a deep fried flat bread made of a dough served warm, topped with sour cream and grated cheese (or a million other toppings but Laszlo insisted this was the real deal and after that goulash, I will never question anything that he says about food) and the best cabbage rolls I've ever tasted.
Kürtőskalács, a thin yeast pastry ribbon wound around a wooden cylinder, sprinkled with sugar so it gets kind of crispy and then topped with sweet spices like cinnamon and is delicious, as you can see here as demonstrated by our model Amanda.
Pogácsa, little puffy bread pops that were almost like buttery little mini croissants. And Körözött, a super delicious cheese spread made with paprika and onions (and many more ingredients I'm sure I don't know about).
What with my love for folk art, Budapest was a magical place for me. Handcrafted textiles, matryoshka dolls, embroidered dresses. It was hard to walk through without buying everything I wanted, but in the end I settled on a tablecloth. And of course, I picked up some paprika, in this gorgeous little tin.
The old metro lines were beautiful, in that it was super old and seemed like it came from a time when beauty actually played a role in public transportation.
The architecture in Budapest is a really eclectic mix of styles -- art nouveau, romanesque, gothic, turkish. The result is pretty amazing and totally beautiful. And to me, it still really felt quiet and still relatively untouched by tourism. It's still got that well-worn gritty feeling like people actually live there, versus the Disneyland feeling we got in Prague. Mind you, we had locals showing us around so we had the advantage of not going to overly touristy places and got a unique look at the city. Here are a bunch of things that, together, kind of sum up what Budapest looked like to me.
There are a ton of photos and I have honestly edited them way down. It was just too nice.
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