Extreme by night, Budapest by sleep-deprived hazy day is impressive.
It’s worth waking up for the options. Although it’s okay to stay in bed some days. And you’ll want to, but when you do fall out of bed, get your coffee and get gone.
If your bag is bragging about how smart you are, or if you want to see just how much damage you’ve done to your brain while travelling, I strongly suggest you try Exit Point. I was hesitant, mostly for the post-failure comedown. What is this mind fuck I am referring to? Exit Point Games is one of several room escape games in the city. Based on computer games, transposed to reality, you are given 60 minutes to use the best of your logic and problem solving skills to complete tasks and get yourself the heck out of there. Whether you make it out, get close to the buzzer or just try and get the files out of the computer Zoolander style, it’s most definitely worth a go. Team building or friendship ending, say hello to a different kind of adrenalin rush.
Free Walking Tour
Ah, the free walking tour. The go-to activity for any traveller. And for good reason. It educates you on a city’s history, culture, and even weird little nuances and anecdotes that you can report back and sound like a regular know-it-all. It gets you acquainted with a city, giving you bearings, a sense of direction and landmarks. And it’s a reason to drag your weary body out of bed and get some fresh air and leg movement. Nobody has ever managed to pick up with bed sores.
And the Budapest tour was a great guide to the city and its tumultuous history. We awoke to a rainy day but were still willing to take it on. Soon that rain turned to a cold, windy, streaming hell on earth. There wasn’t an umbrella left alive. Despite the fact I couldn’t wait to finish and get back to a warm shower, I’m glad I went. So imagine what it would be like on a normal monsoon-less day.
Claustrophobics beware. Caving is not for everyone but damn it is cool. Budapest’s famous hot springs have created a huge cave system underground, maybe even about 120km long. You don’t want to get lost down here so stick with your guide. Don your sexy onesie, put on your miner’s hat and torch and get ready to contort your body to squeeze through tiny rock formations you wouldn’t think possible. Now I was waiting for some kind of reward for effort, maybe a beautiful underground waterfall but no such luck, just the satisfaction that I can clamber and crawl with no hint of panic attack. Tick!
With a gradually building interest in WWII and the Soviet War, starting in Berlin and building in Krakow, I visited the Terror Museum or House of Terror. Having survived two terror regimes, Hungary used the building that once held captive those tortured and killed as a fitting memorial to these victims. The Terror Haza presents what life was like, the horrors that happened and the lasting consequences and freedom that arose.
To be honest this is one of the few museums I’ve visited on my trip and I was impressed. The museum’s Director-General has gone to great lengths to present the information using sight, sound, film, and art in a way to capture the appropriate emotion and intent of each section. Worth the 2000 HUF.
To say I was hungry in Hungary would be both an overused pun and gross understatement. I literally ate my way around the city and would happily zip back there for more. Highlights as follows:
Kiado Kocsma – This one came highly recommended to me and it is my hands down favourite. We tourists are getting whiff of the wonderfulness and prices are slowly reflecting this so get in soon. You probably didn’t know this, but goulash is your new favourite food. This Hungarian soup/stew is all things good for your body and soul. Paprika up! Flavoured fresh lemonades are popular in most restaurants and the mint lemonade here is also a life saver. I tried the spinach gnocchi with duck and I have never looked back. Sandwiches are also top. Basically I could eat here for the rest of my life.
Ring Burger – I was very fortunate to have two Kiwi lasses enter my room late one afternoon who asked me to dinner. I jumped on this friendly gesture and from then on they were stuck with me. The catalyst to our travel soul-mateship was Ring Burger. She’s not cheap, but the best burger, chips and aoili you could wish for. Fancy. Try the banana, walnut and maple syrup milkshake. No calorie regret here. Worth every one.
Arriba – I was planning on staying in one night until it was a friend’s last night so that didn’t happen. But prior to that I ordered in. Tsk tsk. Delivered fresh was an amazing burrito from Arriba. You like Mexican. You like Arriba.
Hummus Bar – Near Carpe Noctem Vitae, Hummus Bar was also responsible for some life saving. You never want their falafel pita to end. Filled to the brim with the goods, I strongly suggest you get it inside you.
Bors Gastrobar – I love people who love food. I live to eat. I don’t understand people who see it as simply something to fuel their body. It is that. But it is also an experience, hobby, obsession. You get the picture. Bors is a little foodie joint next to Szimpla specialising in soups and baguettes. Sounds simple enough but this is gourmet stuff. The right ingredients are put together to make that something special for a very reasonable price.
La Cantine – My final night in Budapest was spent here. Great house red. Great company. It’s a set menu to choose from and for the equivalent of about 12 bucks for a three course meal where every meal is a winner, well you can’t lose, can you. Get fancy.
Fragola – Ice cream is good. Fragola is better. Prepare for some interesting flavours like camembert, chilli chocolate, or coconut nutella. Prepare your tastebuds for the Igloo party that is about to happen in your mouth.
Honourable mentions – I never tried Tokyo but I hear it serves all you can eat sushi and that’s pretty solid in my book. Make sure you try some langos, the pizza looking carby, fatty goodness your hungover body has been searching for. Covered with a bit of cheese and sour cream and you’ll be back on track. Nagyi Palacsintazoja, or Granny’s Pancake House opposite Parliament House has the savoury and sweet pancake options to keep you going after your trek across to Buda.
Do you want to have your own Budapest experience? The Sziget Festival is coming up in August and the line up is out of this world and you can’t go wrong in this party city, only as wrong as you’d like to. Book here with the promo code SHARKWEEK for your freebies!