Budapest was my final Central Europe stop during my Christmas break. The perfect combination of good company, good sceneries and good food made this stop one of the best.
I wouldn't have said that when I first step foot on Hungarian land. In contrast with Vienna, the streets of Hungary were messy, and the homeless were definitely one of the major eyesores at the subway station. We had a tonne of luggage, and there were no elevators at the underground station (unlike most Central European countries, even Poland has elevators). Not only that, we also lost our way to our apartment, with 10kg worth of luggage on my back, that is.
Budapest is made up of two banks, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. We managed to get a really decent apartment just outside the centre of Pest, which is the more commercial side of Budapest.
First shocker - One of the oldest looking trains I've travelled on. It creaks loudly whenever it halts to a stop.
Buidlings in Central Europe didn't deviate much in terms of architecture and height. The colours and details looked rather similar to the ones in Vienna, despite messier.
The highlight of my trip in Budapest was NYE.
Spent the last day of 2013 simply roaming the streets of Pest.
The Christmas market was still running, with the usual wino graze (mulled wine).
But what made Budapest's market my favourite, was the insane amount of good food.
I would say I honestly felt a little deprived of good food after travelling through Poland, Czech and Vienna. Food in Poland and Czech simply wasn't to my liking, and food in Vienna was just too expensive when converted. In Hungary however, Forint wasn't expensive, and they evidently, are very carnivorous compared to the other Central Europe countries.
I wasn't kidding. The carnivorous in me was unleashed. I had to have some of this goodness even though it was around 3pm at that point, and we had a fancy steak dinner booked at 7pm.
Goulash which was OHYUMZ
Our grand feast took up half the table. I wasn't the only person amazed at how much 5 girls could eat. A group of Hungarian boys were stunned when they saw us bringing plates and plates of food from different stalls. Another German man actually voiced out how shocked he was at our appetite.
After filling ourselves to the brim, we decided to take a stroll along the Danube River before heading to the steakhouse we booked.
As the usual Shuwen, I led everyone in the wrong direction again.
But come on, this is beautiful right ?
Nevertheless we safely arrived at our destination.
We chose a steakhouse because as recommended by a Hungarian friend that I met in Poland, the Hungarian white cattle can only be found in Hungary, and is not widely exported. Upon hearing that, of course I had to try it out !
Pampas Argentinian Steakhouse
1053 Budapest, Vámház körút 6, Hungary
I reckon I have tasted really good steaks in different parts of the world, from Angus to Kobe, but this, is the BEST steak I've ever tasted.
From left to right :
Hungarian, Angus, Wagyu.
Usually, in an average steakhouse, I would regard Angus as one of the higher end beef but after tasting the Hungarian beef, my mind was just blown. Somehow everything from the texture to the taste was different. The meat felt like it was in strips, yet contains all the moisture. The Wagyu beef, without saying, was cooked to perfection. Such a satisfying yet unbelievably expensive dinner. Nevertheless, good experiences are never cheap, and it was the last day of 2013 after all.
Strolled around the Danube again before heading to the town square for fireworks and countdown.
Successfully made everyone pose embarrassing poses with me. This one is called the stretch-your-calves pose.
You would think that with the beautiful Danube River and majestic bridges that connect Buda and Pest, there would definitely be fireworks on the river (picture Sydney Harbour Bridge), but surprisingly that was not the case. The bigger party was located at where the Christmas market was, at the town square.
Got our head gears on.
It was so crowded. Amidst the crowd, I was molested, along with a few other girls, got beer spilled down my shirt, and almost got hit by a firework thrown into the crowd. Not the safest place to bring your 6 month old baby.
I actually do not have a lot of pictures of my NYE celebration because we were too busy bobbing our heads up and down to the amazing DJ, and trying to communicate with people around us. The fireworks were rather disappointing as I deem Sitiawan fireworks during CNY far better than the ones in Budapest. Nevertheless, it was the atmosphere of a large outdoor party that I spent my final moments of 2013 in that enhanced the whole experience.
It was so hard to get home and I was squeezing shoulder with shoulder for hours with the Hungarians. Ok actually that is not true. The Hungarians are one of the tallest people I've seen, its more like armpit to face for hours ....
Sightseeing in Budapest.
Planned to go sightseeing today but we woke up really late so the day wasn't very long for us.
It was foggy on most mornings we were in Budapest, and because there was just too much to see, we didn't enter the buildings of Buda Castle, or the Parliament. We made it up to Gelert Hill too but it was too foggy and we couldn't see anything.
Quite emo. There's supposed to be a gorgeous paranomic view here on Gelert Hill.
Walking from Pest to Buda on the Chain Bridge.
According to the bus tour we did, historically, Pest was where most of the commercial activity was at. People from Buda often thought the people at Pest were ... pests, as they were thought as barbaric when they make deals. Soooo I guess the name kind of makes sense.
Bought the cutest earmuffs from Prague but ruined it when I got into the car accident in Poland.
Buda Castle from afar.
We bought a tour deal on NYE which includes a bus tour (not very impressive) and a night cruise. The cruise, I would totally recommend, if it wasn't that cold.
Sisi bridge (Empress Sisi was the Austrian-Hungarian Empress)
Highlight of the cruise :
Close up on the Parliament building at night.
It was freezing cold and I couldn't feel my fingers anymore. The other girls hid inside and looked through the window but I persevered. No regrets !
We had time to walk around after.
Buda Castle at night, was beautiful. Its such a pity we didn't have time to go inside.
The mythical turul bird
This bird appeared in the dream of Magyar Leader's wife, informing her she would one day be the founding mother of a new nation. Thus now, the turul bird spread its wings across Budapest.
View from the Castle when the whole city lights up is so amazing.
Including the Parliament building on the left.
I have decided. I want to come to Budapest one day for my honeymoon !
This is just such a beautiful and mystical city. According to guides, it was believed that the top of Gellert Hill used to be where the witches gather in the middle ages. It was also where Venetian bishop Gellert was killed from being rolled down the hill in a nail-sealed barrel. Thus the name, Gellert Hill.
Inside the courtyards of Buda Castle.
The following day, we part ways with Lydia who was heading to Amsterdam. We had half a day to kill so we decided to go to Andrassy ut. and Heroes Square.
As a UNESCO protected heritage street, I personally found it rather boring. There were plenty of high-end brands on the street, but we didn't even bother walking all the way to Heroes Walk. We simply hopped on the underground.
Because Heroes Square deserves a picture that makes us seem a little bit like heroes lol wtf.
There were many famous baths surrounding the area. Another thing I regretted not doing - Going for one of the famous baths in Budapest.
Last thing 4 girls did in Budapest ?
Cake and coffee
We were introduced to a beautiful cafe called New York Cafe. Like Cafe Central, it had a beautiful interior, and many tourists flock the place just to look at the beautiful ceilings. Unlike in Vienna though, the food at New York Cafe (ironically in Budapest) was really good.
Such a beautiful interior ! And attached to a hotel as well. Which will be the hotel I go for my honeymoon. hurhur. Even the pianist here was better than the one in Vienna. Funny though because Vienna is supposed to be the city of music ....
Booked overnight couchette train tickets back to Poland.
It was a unique experience, but it was the one time kind of experience.
Intentionally want to look like a hobo.
Look at the space I had to sleep in ! I couldn't even sit up, or turn, because I would then fall over the edge of the bed. Plus, it was really hard to get up here.
Without saying, I gained a ton of weight in Budapest, cos it felt like I haven't seen good food in a year. Didn't have really nice clothes to wear when I was in Central Europe either because I packed for a volunteering trip, not for a holiday. I wanted to look as hobo as I can to avoid attention, in case someone robs me. Thus my hobo Armani Exchange jacket that weights almost 2kgs itself.
Looking at the pictures of myself, I am so glad that I have pretty clothes to wear now lol.
Our accommodation in Budapest was Corvin Lux Aparthotel and it was by far our best accommodation. The aparthotel was at the border of Budapest City, at Corvin Negyed providing us 3 comfortable and quiet nights, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Although it had its own little quiet space, we were only a street away from Corvin Plaza, a rather spacious mall.
The interior of the apart hotel looks exactly like my apartment in Melbourne and was luxuriously decorated with modern colours.
The service was superb ! We loved the manager because he was so nice with everything. He handled all the hassle with such patience. This includes allowing us to leave our 234832794273 luggages in his small and squeezy office, and was extremely nice when we spilled some drinks over his carpet. I gave him a 10 star rating on Trip Advisor to make up for it !
I will then conclude that Budapest is a world of a difference from Vienna. Although Budapest doesn't look as grand, as neat or as prestigious like Vienna, it does have its own unique characteristics. As far as my experience goes, even though men in Budapest all have the bad-boy look, their people are extremely nice ! They are much taller, and oh I love their hospitality.
As school work starts to pile up, I can't help to want to go back to Europe ! Really want to join my parents in their trip to UK this coming May because I have a break, but unfortunately, the break is ....
a study break before my exams. Darn it Uni.