Over the weekend, I visited a city that blew me away! I was excited to visit Budapest, Hungary, because it was another new city to explore (and another new country to check off the list), but I didn’t expect for it to impress me the way that it did. Having just visited Prague a couple of weeks ago, I could really compare the two, and I have to say that Budapest “wins” – hands down! Maybe it’s the magnificent architecture or the gritty city feel or the fancy thermal baths or the beautiful cafes, but…I get ahead of myself.
I polled a group of friends more than a month ago to see who might be up for a long weekend in Budapest. In the end, I got one taker…a friend from Lausanne. She is in my Connect Group, and we traveled together to Porto, Portugal in October.
Budapest is made up of two sides (which were formerly separate cities) – Buda and Pest. The Danube River separates them. We spent Friday evening checking out the Pest side of the city. Our first stop was to Szimpla Kert – one of the ruin pubs in the city. Ruin pubs started to open in the early part of the century. Most can be found in old factories or tenement buildings that would otherwise have been destroyed. Most of the interior is furnished with old furnishings from all kinds of places. The one we visited was super funky. I really liked it!
We walked up the famous tree-lined street called Andrássy, which reminded me of the Champs-Elysées. There are a lot of designer shops and quite a few Embassies located on this street. The Opera House (which was next to our hotel) was also located here.
At the end of the street is the Heroes Square, which is just beautiful!
I especially liked this lady waving her palm…
We strolled through City Park and saw Szechenyi Baths – one of the incredible thermal baths. It was giant and oh-so-beautiful! We decided to save the baths for Sunday morning, but we still got to enjoy dinner in the park at Robinson. There, we learned about the delicious flavored lemonades that became a staple for us throughout the weekend!
On Saturday morning, we headed for the Buda side of the city. I loved the Chain Bridge with the views of the Royal Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion up on the hill.
The funicular took us straight to the top where incredible views of the Pest side awaited us!
The President’s office sits at the top of the hill, too.
We popped into the Hungarian National Gallery briefly before walking over to Ruszwurm Cafe for a coffee break (or maybe it was really for a cake break?!). It originated in 1827, and the cream cake is STILL delicious!
The area near the cafe was my favorite. St. Matthias Cathedral was breathtaking inside and outside, and I thought the Fisherman’s Bastion that stood around it was magnificent, too. There were a few too many people, but it was still beautiful.
[This is the Parlament building, and it is simply stunning.]
We meandered back over to the other side knowing that at some point, we wanted to find a quick lunch. We looked no further when we found a hot dog shop serving CORNDOGS!! This is one of my obsessions and something that I haven’t found anywhere in Europe…until now. My friend is British, and she never had a corndog. She decided to try it, but unfortunuately, she didn’t like it very much. It was probably a bad decision to let her first one be in Hungary instead of at a county fair or a baseball game in the US. It was mediocre at best, but I was still very excited!
We popped our head in St. Steven’s cathedral for a minute, which was really different from St. Matthias on the Buda side.
Before taking a little afternoon rest, we took a tour of the Opera House. It is exquisite. I just wish a performance was playing while we were in town! Maybe next time…
[Meet Franz Liszt. I played Liebestraum at my senior piano recital in 2002, which was one of my all-time favorite pieces.]
In the evening, we went to dinner at the “most beautiful cafe in the world.” At least, that’s what they said when it opened in 1894. New York Cafe is definitely one of the fanciest cafes I’ve ever seen!
We ended the evening with a cruise on the Danube River. The buildings and bridges are lit up so beautifully at night. I didn’t bother trying to take pictures in the dark, since I knew they wouldn’t come out, but the Parlament building was too good to pass up!
On Sunday morning, we went to the Gellért baths to relax. I read that it was like bathing in a cathedral. They required swim caps inside, so we spent most of our time outside.
It would’ve been fun to hang out longer getting spa treatments and some sun, but we had one more exciting stop before we departed…meeting two new babies!
As it turns out, two of my friends were in Budapest, too. Both were there with their husbands and little ones for work. We met the girls and the babies for lunch at Gerbeaud – another pretty cafe established in 1858. It was so wild to be in the same place at the same time..especially when that place wasn’t Oxford, Rome (in the fall or celebrating Easter with a bunny cake), or Vevey! Made me wished for more time with them!
These two beauties are coming to visit Switzerland (along with a few more members of their family) in August, so I will get more quality time with them soon! Hooray!
I love when a new city surprises me as much as Budapest did. I’m adding it to the growing list of “favorite cities.”