Hungary- to be honest, not expecting much when I went there. I was told by family who had visited shortly after the fall of communism that Budapest was an amazing European city but the Iron Curtain (like it did) shaded it from things like a gastronomy experience or other reasons to travel. After driving the 6 hours from Salzburg to visit Eastern Europe for only my second time a few years back I was astonished by the metropolis that greeted me. I went with my dad and step mom (and twin sister), and it was also my dad’s first time. As someone who I feel like has been everywhere, it was fun to experience it together. We all were blown away by everything, Parliament, the churches (swoon, seriously), the cafes and the true city feeling. Along with that we found some great restaurants that proved us all wrong. Hungary is a force to be reckon with when it comes to food. Hungarian Paprika was heavily consumed and brought back with us in masses. It is hard to imagine my life without it at this point.
Two highlights for me (outside of the Paprika) was the impromptu wine festival we stumbled upon and the shopping:
- The Wine Festival—it was a beautiful September day (we were #blessed with great weather the whole trip, including our time in Salzburg) and as my step mom porcelain shopped (pretty stellar stuff in Budapest) my dad, sister, and I stumbled upon a wine festival that was going on. For just about $20 or so you got a glass with a pouch for the glass and entrance into a wine festival where you could taste a lot of local wines and meet the people who made the wine themselves! We had a few glasses and the one that really stuck out was this fruity Riesling (I love sweet Riesling, I know an unpopular opinion) and this was the best I had (and still have) ever had. It was so sweet that a local bee would not leave us alone. He just wanted a sip!
- The Shopping—let me preface the shopping in Budapest is nothing that would blow you away, but the souvenir shopping was one hundo p. They really took advantage of their Bohemian ancestors and culture and just BLEW IT OUT OF THE PARK WITH EMBROIDERY TOPS. I love anything heavily embroidered, I have tees, dresses, pants, etc that are embroidered so when I came across all the individually unique embroidered tops in all the souvenir shops I was obsessed. I ended up with one that I have worn endlessly for the last 4 years. I get so many compliments and I love telling the fans that I got it at a souvenir shop in Budapest. They both laugh and are pleasantly surprised. Sadly it really should be replaced soon (we have been through a lot of NYC summers together) but that just means another trip to Hungary, right?
If You Want To Know:
Where I Stayed- We stayed in the Hilton Budapest on the Buda side of the Danube. It is located right in the historic castle district and is even partly built into a castle. Request a room looking out to the river, it is one of the best views of the Parliament in the city.
Where I Ate- On Day 1 we stumbled upon Baltazar while wondering the area around the hotel. It was so cute and delicious (I had the goulash) we started talking to the staff about the space. From there we learned that this family owned a lot of boutique restaurants around the whole city. We decided to try as many as we could, besides Baltazar I listed the rest below:
Pest/ Buda- French Bistro-esque. We went for lunch and as the menu was a little lighter and had a more casual atmosphere.
Spiler (Original, there are a few other restaurants under the name Spiler...I am sure you cannot go wrong with any of them)
Pierrot- The nicest of the restaurants we tried. This is where I had the paprika chicken and where my life changed.
View #1 from my hotel room
View #2 from the room...can't really beat that
Changing of the Gaurds
My Step Mom, Dad, and Sister outside Spiler
A bit of history inside Spiler
That wine glass pouch, tho
It only took me a few days to bust out my new top (in Munich)