What have you all been up to? How is the holiday season treating you? I am perfectly blissful right now in my fluffy dressing gown, right by the Christmas tree as I'm typing this very exciting post. Last week my boyfriend and I found ourselves in Budapest! It was a long awaited trip that we've been planning for some time. We chose to brave the cold and go in December so we could marvel at all the Christmas decorations and enjoy the Christmas markets which are a huge thing all over central and northern Europe during the festive season (and which we, as Greeks, are deprived of).
Budapest makes for a lovely budget-friendly destination too, so if you're a fellow student we highly recommend visiting the city and exploring all it has to offer.
On our very first day we arrived late, at about 9pm so naturally we were pretty wiped out and only headed out for dinner. Our first meal was in Barack & Szilva, a lovely cozy modern restaurant in the Jewish quarter (where our Airbnb also was located) and I had some delicious mushroom velouté soup and stuffed chicken breast which was so rich, I barely finished half of it! Very nice meal although there were much more exciting delicacies to come in the next days.
On the very first morning in Budapest, we were thankfully welcomed by a clear sunny sky, something we were hoping for, although the temperature was starkly different from what we're used to, coming from southern Europe. We set our sights on the Buda hill and went for all the must-see tourist attractions of the city. If you didn't know, Budapest actually comprises of two entities: Buda and Pest, situated on either bank of the Danube river and linked by several bridges. Buda is were most attractions are while Pest is the heart of the city with all the shops and restaurants.
Buda it is then! Grab some coffee or tea, there is a storm of photos coming towards you!
To get to Buda we reached the infamous Chain Bridge which was more than impressive to look at and walk through.
|The Four Seasons hotel: a very interesting building, as luxe as the inside
Walking through the bridge offered some killer views and highly Instagrammy shots.
|The Danube river separates Buda and Pest
As soon as we reached Buda, we headed towards the hill, where the Buda Castle and all the other attractions are. Even though most tourist guides advised to take the furnicular to go up the hill, we found that going on foot offered much better views and there was absolutely no reason not to.
|The pathway towards the Buda Castle
And finally we reached the very top, where the Buda Castle was looming. Quite an interesting building to look at.
And there's me, all bundled up in your classic touristy pose. Behind me you can catch a glimpse of St. Stephen's Basilica, the Chain Bridge and on the far-left you can see the Parliament.
After many photographs, we decided a break from the cold was more than necessary and thus immersed ourselves in the Hungarian National Gallery, which is located right next to the Castle. A lovely museum, easy to navigate and not overwhelming, containing lots of interesting works of art.
|looking all-intellectual in the art-filled space
And because museums can be a bit tiring we made our way to a classic café, famous for its delicious cakes and beverages, Ruszwurm.
On the way we encountered pretty pastel houses, reminiscent of Vienna.
|at the end of the cobblestoned street, the Matthias Church
|our much-needed fuel
After gorging on the café's cakes, we continued our walk to the other side of the hill, where the sun was casting its golden rays, making everything that much prettier.
Next on the list was the ultimate Instagram spot, the Fisherman's Bastion, right next to Matthias Church.
|The Matthias Church
|The Fisherman's Bastion
As the sun set, the city lit up creating a magical, unforgettable atmosphere.
We went downhill, stopping and sighing along the way because it was that pretty.
|A cute sleigh made of lights with a sign warning not to sit on it, to my dismay
Crossing the Chain Bridge in the evening was a truly majestic experience.
Next up on the schedule, we visited the WestEnd mall, mainly to change currency (tip: it has some of the best rates in Budapest, unlike the airport) and to do a little shopping because hello, we were in a mall. I picked up some LUSH Christmas goodies because LUSH isn't available in Greece and I always get something from there when I travel (and let's be honest, who doesn't love a delicious, Christmas-scented bath?).
By this point we were starving and craving real food.
Prior to travelling I had done some thorough research on which restaurants we had to visit (like any decent foodie out there) and this choice proved to be an incredible find. The restaurant we went to, only 10 minutes from our Airbnb, is named Ket Szerecsen and had the warmest, coziest, most Christmassy bistro ambiance.
Even though we hadn't made a reservation, we managed to snag a table right next to the Christmas tree! The most beautiful spot ever.
|The Christmas tree was decorated with teal ornaments, matching the teal accents in the restaurant's decor
The sequins in my sweater reflected the Christmas lights!
The dishes were up to par with the beautiful environment.
The restaurant offers tapas for starters followed by some bistro-style dishes with some Hungarian touches. We had:
Shrimps in garlic butter sauce - utterly delicious. We sweeped the remaining sauce with bread til there wasn't a single drop left.
Roasted goat cheese with apple purée and walnuts. Another rich and flavorful dish, also aptly paired with the offered bread.
The mains were right on par with the starters. My dish: Hungarian duck breast on pumpkin risotto and forest mushrooms. The duck - tender and perfectly cooked - was complemented ideally by the sweet and creamy risotto. A dish I won't forget.
My date went with chicken spinach tagliatelle in a mascarpone sauce. Rich, indulgent and comforting. All washed down with Hungarian wine.
A stunning meal to end a perfect day.
On our way back to our Airbnb we checked out the emblematic Andrassy boulevard, all lit-up with Christmas lights.
If you're still here, a big hug to you! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed. Stay tuned for more Budapest escapades!