Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Budapest Part Two:

I think everyone should experience Budapest. The food AND The pastries AND The wine alone is worth the trip. The historic coffeehouses scattered throughout the city were just a few of the many places to indulge. I had read about the coffeehouses and knew that we had to make them a regular part of our days there, merely for the sake of stuffing our, I mean…conducting “bakery business” research of sorts. Hmm, now that I think of it..can I write this trip off?

I was pleasantly surprised by just how good the food was there. I guess thoughts of Hungary didn’t automatically equate to “Foodie Capital” in my mind… but that was before I had the Beef Goulash with Egg Noodles and Iced Pickles.

The First night, we ate at a place called Bock Bistro,which was somehow connected to the hotel that we stayed in. For two decent sized meals, wine and bottled water, we spent the equivalent to 25$..AND, the food was really good. We got lucky that night, because the each night after, we tried to get a table there, and it was fully booked. We then discovered our next favorite spot, Abszint, another equally cute bistro, complete with accordion player, AND free wireless internet. (quite the rarity here) We dined here twice and had many Caprihanas…which for those who have inquired, is NOT a coffee drink that you can get at Starbucks :), but a cocktail made with Brazilian Rum, Muddled Limes and Sugar. I also tried some interesting desserts; Crepes with a Cherry Compote, that somewhat resembled refried beans (not my favorite) and a Pear Torte, in which the Pears were so candied, they were almost date-like. (sticky and sweet)

We stumbled upon two coffeehouses that are pretty well known and very historic. The first and our favorite, we discovered while up on Castle Hill. This part of Budapest is known as the Buda side, whereas the city center and the other side of the river is known as the Pest side. The Buda side is hillier, with many paths, quiet side streets and its share of stunning city, Parliament and river views with churches, statues, castles and museums. Of course, the Pest side has this as well, all among the hustle and bustle of the people, cars and public trams.Ruszwurm was a tiny place, stuffed with hoards of people, all vying for the Cream Cake and the other specialties of the house. We ordered a Cream Cake (which is exactly as it sounds, heavy whipped cream between two layers of pastry) and an Apple Strudel…and then, we had to have an additional two slices of Chocolate Cake…um, this was our lunch…and, we DID do a lot of walking, so………

ugh. Sugar. Too Much…

We had a great time in Budapest, and I think that because of our hotel, we were able to relax and spread out a bit. We were upgraded to a suite when our room wasn’t ready, and we ended up paying much less than it was worth. This helped in our decision to forgo our travels to Vienna, which was supposed to be the other 2 ½ of our 5 days away. Because we had this extra time, we were able to have a lot of time to relax and read, and I ended up doing a ton of walking, just to explore. It was nice not feeling pressed for we had to see everything squeezed into 48 hours. Every day, we would see one or two things, and the rest of the day, I would wander aimlessly (I felt completely safe) and T would relax, reading. I think that the highlights of Budapest for me, aside from the culinary delights and random wanderings was an interesting visit to the Gellert Spa, which is an oldschool public bathhouse and seeing a great old castle within a city park, where great smelling Pizzas were being fired in a outdoor oven and Gluwein was being brewed just beyond the castle gates. There were other great moments too. I really enjoyed the breathtaking views of the city seen from the Fisherman’s Bastion, a great fortress like structure perched on the top of the hill. I could go on, really. I felt as if Budapest was pretty magical. It felt the most foreign, so far, of the cities that we have seen, and I think this enhanced my experience that much more.

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