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Day 7: Budapest is BeautyPest – the most underrated city in Europe

Thursday, November 26 – Thanksgiving Day
Since we barely had any sleep on the night before we left London, Nancy and I vowed to get lots of rest. We kept our first few hours in Budapest quite low-key. I was so tired that I didn’t even write my blog, I was that tired. For the first time on this vacation, we slept for 9 hours. We got up around 8am, It was strange to think that back home was Thanksgiving Day, and yes, we are thousands of miles away from our family. But we knew very well that the kids are in great hands.

Exploring Buda
We decided to leave the Art’Otel around 9:30 and we walked up to Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. No,
wait, we actually climbed here! This was on the Buda side of Budapest. I learned that there’s a Buda and Pest side. 

It was an uphill climb just to get to Ruszwurm Cruskzada – a pastry place, a well-known pastry/dessert cafe. 

We had their Kreme Cake and Dobostorta…..a perfect way to start our day, that, along with tea, was our breakfast.

Headed over to the Pest side

We then hiked down to go to Betthany Ter station. From there we took 2 trains, the red train and yellow train, and we got off at the Opera – The State Opera House, located on the other side of the river, the Pest side. What a magnificent venue. 

The State Opera House
Once we got out of the Opera house, we noticed that the road we were on, Andrassy, had many different high-end stores. We went around and hopped from Louis Vuitton, Burberry, to Gucci. Oh and of course, I stopped by the Apple Store as well.
At Louis Vuitton on Andrassy, next to the State Opera House
Mother ship, the Apple Store

Cantine – I’m having whatever they’re having
It was already time for lunch and we chanced upon Cantine, a restaurant on Andrassy. Once we got in, it was bustling with conversations from its customers. One thing I like about traveling is hearing the “American” way of speaking English. We were sandwiched between 2 tables, the couple to our right were from Kentucky, and the table to our left had someone from San Diego. The couple from Kentucky shared with us what they just ate. So we ordered Beef Goulash, a plate of salami, cottage cheese, and sausage. For our entree, we ordered Paprika Chicken with Buttered Noodles, and Mushroom Paprika. That was a lot of food! My first goulash did not disappoint. It was so tasty. The soup was so hot, perfect for the cold afternoon. For dessert, we enjoyed a traditional Hungarian dessert – the Aranygaluska. It’s like bread pudding on cream sauce.

My first-ever Beef Goulash….Ooohhh-la-lash!!!!
Mushroom Paprika – this tasted better than it looks!!!
Chicken in Paprika Sauce – the closest thing to a turkey on Thanksgiving Day

The Sistine Chapel of Bookstores
I wanted to check out a bookstore in Budapest, and was advised to go to the Book Cafe on Andrassy. It is located inside this building, Parisi Nagyaruhaz. When we walked in, it looked like your typical unassuming book shop, kinda like a Barnes and Noble, with escalators etc. Nothing thrilling. But, once we took the escalator, we were led to the Book Cafe…..and oh lawddddd!!! It wasn’t a Starbucks. It wasn’t a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It was the Sistine Chapel of bookstore coffee shops!!! It was amaze balls. It was jaw dropping, but of course, I kept my cool! HA!!! We had green tea and Esterhazy Torta. Thank you, Wikipedia – Esterházy torta consists of buttercream spiced with cognac or vanilla, sandwiched between four to five layers of almond meringue (macaroon) dough. 

Oh BeautyPest

CNNTraveler wrote about Budapest, “a beautiful city with a history that makes you smile and cry, and friendly people anxious to show everyone everything with a wonderful sense of humor, in spite of their difficult history.” In our day and a half here, it was hard not to agree. There’s a surprise in a lot of places we turned. The locals tried their best to help us with our questions. That added much to the beauty this city has to offer.

The Great Market 
Another must-see that was suggested is the Great Market aka the Central Market. From the outside, it was a huge building not too far from the bridge. I was expecting a stinky, wet, dirty market…..but it wasn’t. It was clean, and spacious. There were many stalls that sold a variety of vegetables and meat, and the rest of the market sold souvenirs, traditional clothing, and more food, food, and more food!

Budapest Christmas Fair
The holiday season is definitely in full swing. We were also advised to head to the fair to taste a variety of local goodies. The mood was quite festive. It was on the 2nd day of the fair. We had  another order of goulash, this time it was served in a bread bowl, and also sweet paprika sausage. Again, this goulash did not disappoint. What was even better – we sat down next to a couple from Orlando. We had a fantastic conversation about our vacations. They’re off to go on a cruise with Viking Cruises.

My beef goulash in a bread bowl from the street fair

Sheena told us to try a local street food – Kurtos. Kürtőskalács is made from sweet, yeast dough (raised dough), of which a strip is spun and then wrapped around a truncated cone–shaped baking spit, and rolled in granulated sugar. It is baked above charcoal cinders while lubricated with melted butter, until its surface gets a golden-brown color. 

My Beef Goulash being served on a bread bowl
Paprika Sausage with Mustard

That’s our Day 7, a very long day here in Budapest…..who knows that Day 8 will bring. Thanks for following our journey.

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