Last month my brave father visited me while I was living in Serbia. After exploring Belgrade for a few days, we rented a car and took the A1/M5 north to Budapest, Hungary.
Now first of all, Fun Fact #1 about Budapest is that it’s not pronounced Budapest. It’s BudaPESHT. And actually, it’s Buda, and then Pesht, divided by the Danube River. Buda is where the fortress is, and is more residential. Pest (keep pronouncing it Pesht in your head though) is the lively part of town, with bars, restaurants, and shopping. Dad and I got a hotel in the Jewish Quarter of Pest (Pesht) at the Hotel Continental Zara, and this was in a great location for us to get to the main Vorosmarty Square as well as explore the more trendy part of town.
Fun Fact #2 about Budapest is that all roads take you to the river (pretty much), and it’s a very walkable and easily navigated city. We parked our car with the hotel and didn’t even need to use a taxi or public transportation the whole time.
So, what trouble did Father Phil and I get into during our three days in Hungary?
The drive to Budapest from Belgrade was a bit of an adventure in itself. After stopping for hot dogs in tube buns (don’t ask) and sitting a while at the border crossing into Hungary, we made it into town and dropped our bags at the hotel.
Our first goal was to explore and find a place to eat dinner. We wandered into a little bar called Legfelsőbb Beeróság that served 10 craft beers on tap, with dozens of other bottled craft options. Dad and I enjoyed choosing between beers named Brewsk Willis, Invisible Bikini, and Bigfoot Meggeys.
We wandered a bit more and looked up a highly-rated restaurant nearby for dinner. We walked in around 8pm and realized that no tables were available! Dad and I quickly debated and decided any burger joint requiring a reservation on a Monday night had to be amazing. So we walked to another bar, ordered jalepeno poppers, and went back for our 9pm reservation at Tuning Bar & Burger.
Tuning was absolutely amazing. Their shtick was to project the cooktop onto the wall so you could watch as your burgers and fries were cooked. But the food didn’t require such fanfare as it was amazing on its own – we got the Pepper burger with red-pepper sauce, a bacon-wrapped jalapeño pepper, and sriracha aioli. Nom noms.
Tuesday morning began with breakfast at the hotel followed by a 2 hour walking tour of the city. We walked all over Pest (Pesht), across the Chain Bridge to Buda, and explored the Buda Castle. Afterwards, we were quite exhausted and mildly grumpy in search of food. So, Daddy and Daughter found a suitable option – Ice cream! I don’t have pictures of the ridiculous artisinal sundaes (and cappuccinos) (and champagne) we had because they were embarrassingly decadent, but we got to cross off Cafe Gerbeaud off our list of To-Dos.
We had a well-deserved nap, we ate a quick dinner (goulash for Dad and pumpkin soup for me) and boarded our riverboat for a wine cruise on the Danube!
I highly recommend this experience if you ever make it over to Budapest. We had a 2 hour cruise with live music and were able to enjoy very large samples of 7 different Hungarian wines. We enjoyed 2 white wines, a rose, 2 red wines, and two dessert wines. My dad and I, being the wine snobs that we are, thoroughly enjoyed discussing the different flavors and comparing them while we passed the Parliament building and crossed under the many bridges connecting Buda and Pest.
After the wine cruise, we clearly were in the right state of mind to want to try more wine. We landed at the DiVino Wine Bar, ordered a cheese plate, and got into great conversation with the bartender/sommelier who allowed us to sample some of Hungary’s finest wine (of a much better quality than on the boat).
Wednesday, we walked the city (notice a theme?) and took a tour through the House of Terror, which contains exhibits and memorials about the communist and racist regimes in Hungary. This museum was very poorly laid out and unfortunately we visited during a local school’s class trip, so while I don’t think we had the full experience, it was a good reminder of the horrors that took place not too long ago.
That evening, we explored the Ruin Pubs. In Budapest, old, decrepit factories, warehouses, and apartment buildings have turned into a funky and eclectic bar scene. The building may not have a roof, is covered in graffiti, and filled with an random assortment of furniture and decorations, but that makes for a fun vibe and good time. Throw in some cheap beer and you’ve got a spot I think a lot of my fellow remotes would enjoy. I certainly did!
For dinner, I was able to find the nerdiest restaurant possible, AKA one me and my Dad would both enjoy immensely. The KonyvBar and Restaurant in Budapest (Budapesht) has theme dinners based on a book, and they switch up the book/menu pairing every two weeks. While we were in town, the selected book was none other than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Although Dad and I refrained from ordering completely off this menu (as it was full of snails and other odd dishes), we really enjoyed the ambiance and found the food to be incredible.
So there you have it. Dad and I ate really well, enjoyed a good amount of Hungarian wine, and thoroughly loved exploring Budapest. I look forward to our next adventure together!