August 10, 2011
Back in July, Mark, Lynh and I spent a week exploring Budapest. As you may or may not know, Budapest is divided by the Danube into Buda and Pest. We stayed in Pest (say: Pesht), which was livelier but not as pretty as Buda. In general, my impression of Budapest was that it was colorful, architecturally eclectic, and quite beautiful. I especially liked the Jewish quarter, Buda, and Margaret Island.
We thoroughly explored Buda and Pest, spent an afternoon at the Szechenyi thermal baths, and walked along the Danube. My sister the sadist (kidding! or am I?) forced me to hike to the top of Gellert Hill on the hottest day, where we shared a bottle of mineral water in the shadow of a creepy sculpture and checked out the great view of the city.
We also explored the city by night.
As for food, we cooked most of our meals in our apartment, doing our best to find/follow authentic Magyar recipes. And because we had access to authentic ingredients (they sell goose fat at the grocery store like it ain't no thing), the food turned out pretty great. We sampled all of the local specialities we could find -- sour cherries, mangalitsa cured pork sausages, super fragrant paprika, at least 5 different types of pickled peppers (Lynh's theory is that Peter Piper was Hungarian) gulyas (meat braised with paprika and onion sauce), palacsinta (crepes), chicken paprikash, Tokaj sweet wine, etc.
The worst thing we ate was when Lynh ordered corn on the cob from a street vendor. I knew, just knew, it would be disgusto and I told her not to get it. And I was right. (I shared that seemingly pointless story because that episode led to Lynh eating it, making a face, me saying I told you so, and her yelling at me to stop being so annoying. Mark and I laughed a lot.)
We also sampled Israeli food (incredible laffa bread and good hummus, at Hummus Bar) and Serbian food (cevapcici, below, also tasty but with mediocre bread, at Castro Bisztro).
As for accommodations, we rented this apartment. It would have been great except that the owner's agent kept bringing people by, with the explanation that the apartment was going to be in a movie (like I care). After I complained, they gave us a bottle of wine, which was nice I guess? But obviously I would have rather they respected our privacy in the first place. Vacation rentals! Not always perfect, but maybe you just have to keep your expectations appropriately low.