We are dawdlers. Full stop. And Budapest is one big temptation for dawdlers.
On our previous visit in 2013, we did not do half of what we intended, and not even 10 percent of what The Lonely Planet recommends.
We walked and walked the beautiful streets with their wide sidewalks and old buildings. We looked at the shop windows and the people. We drank wine and coffee, again and again.
Dogs are welcome in Budapest’s streets.
This time we had a list of the things we “definitely” wanted to do: go to the Gellert Baths, Memento Park, Parliament, a ruin bar, a shop with classical music CDs, and more than one wine bar. Oh yes, and an old coffee shop and the big Nagycsarnok market.
One of the many coffe shop in Budapest.
Choose your wine bar wisely and you will taste Furmint in Riedel glasses.
You can have your drink in an old Trabant at the Szimpla Kert ruin bar.
During our first two days, day one was a complete failure in terms of our list, but a roaring success in terms of what makes us happy.
We bought a snazzy Bialetti (Italian coffee maker), overcoming the language hurdle of the eager to help shop assistant who could only speak Hungarian and Russian.
The Travelling Bialetti.
Library on wheels.
We bought data for our iPads, can’t live without this! It is also very convenient that most restaurants and accommodation places have free wifi, there was even free wifi on the intercity train.
Facebook, google maps and google translate makes travelling so much easier.
In Hungary most older people don’t speak English. Young people though are usually very willing and able to help.
The Budapest underground metro.
On the metro.
Through Facebook we knew that there was a new version of a wine guide about the Tokaj region, and the young author, Gergely Ripka, braved peak hour traffic to bring us a copy to our favourite wine bar in the city centre, Innio.
The bible of Tokaj wine books.
Gergely arranged with one of Hungary’s famous wine makers that we could join an American wine blogger on his visit to the winery. More on this later.
At Innio, sommelier Tamás Tènyi also gave us, like the previous time in 2013, great tips on good and interesting wines and which wineries to visit.
innio ennio elnio / drink eat live
So what could we tick off on our to do list after our first two days?
The CD shop moved, so we’ll have to go looking for it again.
We tried to go to Parliament, but all the English tours for that specific day were sold out, we found out when we naively arrived a few seconds before one of them started.
Gyula Andrássy on his horse next to the Hungarian Parliament building.
We did have coffee and great cake at the 1898 Müvész Kávéház.
We had a beer and palinka (similar to South African “mampoer”, but softer in taste) in a touristy ruin bar. A must do, but we did not linger.
The famous Hungarian Palinka.
We had some typical food: lungos (like a flat “vetkoek”, in our case topped with cream cheese and cheese), salami, cheese and soup.
And we went to a symphony concert in the Bela Bartok Concert Hall, as part of the Budapest Spring Festival, one of our two main reasons to return to Hungary. The other being a visit to the wine region Tokaj, famous for its natural sweet Aszu wines.
The score board at the end of our first two days: to do list 0, travelling happiness 1.
Article and photos by Carien Fourie Kruger and Helenus Kruger.
© Helenus Kruger Photography