May 13, 2015

We got back on Wednesday from four incredible days away in Budapest, and I completely fell in love with the city. I had high expectations for it, because everyone I know who has been has told me only great things, so I was happy it lived up to all the hype. We met our friends from Toronto there and shared a gorgeous apartment in the heart of the Pest side. Our location was perfect and we could walk everywhere from it. 

Our first day happened to be James' birthday, but unfortunately the weather wasn't great so we decided to mostly stay inside and have a nice long brunch at Menza. It's a cool restaurant on the Pest side that has the best soup I have ever tried in my life. So if you ever check it out you have to order their Garlic Cream Soup with Fried bread, oh it's so good!

After brunch we visited the powerful and tragic House of Terror, which was very moving and taught me a lot about the devastation Hungary has gone through over the years. It was a bit of a birthday downer, but really important to see. Once we left we were like, what are we meant to do now? We needed a mood lifter so we went to an awesome pedestrian only restaurant area close to the House of Terror and Menza. All the restaurants have cozy heated patios with blankets, so we snuggled up and James ordered a drink called the Aquarium, which is literally served in a fish bowl... the perfect mood booster! I have to say going away with friends who can drink while I am left to only order mocktails is not very fun, but I loved seeing them, enjoy themselves a lot (if you know what I mean)! 

On Monday we ventured over to the Buda side, by crossing one of the many bridges over the Danube river. The Buda side has a completely different vibe than the Pest side. Buda has a ton of history and beautiful old buildings and lookout points. We took a little tram up Castle Hill, and from the top had a panoramic view of Pest and the surrounding areas. After snapping a ton of shots of Matthias Church, we stopped and grabbed drinks at a café in the Fisherman's Bastion.

By the way I was so pleasantly surprised to see homemade lemonade is a huge thing in Budapest. Every café, bar or restaurant has a selection of different flavours of lemonade and they are all amazing. You have to try the Elderberry Lemonade, so good! It's so funny what thrills me now alcohol is off the menu, ha!

We walked around for a while longer, stopped for lunch, then thought the best way to reward our bodies was a stop at the thermal baths. We went to Rudas Bath House which is located just by the river with a view of Pest. It was a big bummer when we went in and after we paid was that the thermal baths were only open to 'naked men', we were so let down! Well the girls were, the guys could have gone in if they wanted to. But instead we did enjoy the rooftop panoramic pool, it was so relaxing to swim in a pool with the most incredible view. I really liked this Bath house, but would definitely recommend checking online before to see the schedule for when the baths are open to both men and women (preferably when bathing suits are worn).

After a rejuvenating day we headed home, cleaned up, and ventured back out to find a nice place for dinner. We wandered around and found the coolest spot ever! It's called Gozsdu Udvar and is like a pedestrian only area filled with fun restaurants and bars, and tons of young people. I was so impressed by how many great hangout spots there are for young people here. After having a very hard time picking just one restaurant to eat at, we finally decided on Spiler restaurant. It's rare I recommend a restaurant, because who cares, but this place was the shit. Amazing food, great cocktails, awesome service, the atmosphere was really fun, and it was so cheap. If we were food critics we said we would give it a 5 star, it was that great.

With such a good day under our belts we rested up for another packed to the brim day (and our last).

Since Tuesday was our last full day we had a ton left to see. We started the day by walking around Pest until we made it to a faraway bridge to cross to Margaret Island. There is nothing cooler than a city having it's own private island, especially if the island is a giant park. We really wanted to rent a golf cart to make our way around the island, but it was too bad for us because we got to the rental place too early, so we had to stick with our poor legs for transportation.

We wanted to split the day into lots of walking in the morning, having lunch then relaxing yet again in a bath house for the afternoon. So after walking around the island and eating the best veggie burger of my life, we made our way to the very famous Szechenyi Baths. This bath house was recommended to me by many friends that have visited Budapest, and just like them I will pass on the recommendation to you. It has three impressive and massive outdoor heated thermal pools, and countless indoor thermal baths with all different temperatures. Once you get over the initial awkward feeling of sharing a giant bath with many different types of people, then it's very pleasant and fun.

Stupidly we decided to walk home which was about an hour, and my poor pregnant body was not happy. After the warm bath and the long walk home I was pooped. But like any determined tourist I still had things to see, so we pushed ourselves to journey home, clean up and hop on an evening river cruise. We were told to go on the river cruise as the sun was setting because the light hits the Parliament building the best at this time, and again the recommendation paid off. We got the most amazing views of both Buda and Pest, just as the sun was setting for the day. 

The morning of our last day we treated ourselves to a coffee at the very famous Gerbeaud Café. When you walk inside it seriously feels like you are on the Titanic, it is so beautiful and grand, but all that grandeur comes at a cost. I was shocked at the cost of breakfast or even a drink, so if you are on a budget or don't want to spend almost €10 on a croissant, then just grab a coffee here for the experience and breakfast elsewhere. Which is exactly what we did. We went around the corner to cute Parisian style café called Anna's café for a proper and well priced breakfast. We didn't feel as classy, but hey we'll get there someday.

Our friends had to leave shortly after breakfast, but James and I had a couple of hours to kill before we had to go to the airport. The only thing I wanted to do was eat one last Cinnamon Chimney which is called in Kürtőskalács in Hungarian. If you have never tasted heaven before then this is it. I am still 
dreaming of them, and am eager to try and bake one at home.

It was a sweet ending to an amazing trip away, which we really needed. If you have never been to Budapest, you have to go like now, now! I already want to go back to experience the fun, youthful crowds and bars, and spend my afternoons sitting in a warm thermal bath. 

So I am back to regular posting after taking that little getaway, I hope you are doing well and are enjoying the beautiful weather that has hit us all! What have you been up to? Any fun travel plans coming up?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this travel diary!

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