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Red Bags of Paprika Powder displayed in Budapest's Great Market Hall

24 hours Budapest

October 4th, 2018 | Landgänge

This rush was not even necessary during our visit to Budapest. After all, this was not a “shoreleave” of the usual kind. I mean, Budapest cannot be reached by cruise ships, and in all cases by river ships. But we were there simply on vacation, by plane. It’s our first time in Budapest and in Hungary. Invited by our dear friend, the ship’s doctor.

24 hours Budapest 24 hours Budapest

We were in Budapest for about a week and it was just overwhelming! Budapest is such a great city, unbelievably beautiful! Castles and magnificent buildings, the Parliament, boulevards like in Paris, friendly people and good, down to earth food (with lots of paprika and peppers…) – our expectations were exceeded in every respect.

I would like to share our first day’s tour with you. It’s great to get a first overview of the city. But beware: you always have to be “good on foot” with the captain … and Buda’s steep hills on one side of the Danube and Pest’s endless boulevards on the other side can be quite a challenge …

Nagy Vasarcsarnok means "Great Market Hall"

From our hotel Kálvin House, a simple but recommendable bed and breakfast hotel in a perfectly central location, we start early in the morning heading towards – how could it be any different – Budapest’s legendary market hall. I loooovvvvve market halls. This one is a truly impressive, cleanly restored neo-Gothic hall that seems to overflow with paprika and Hungarian salami. In the cellar fish, meat and game are offered, on the ground floor mainly salami and sausages and of course peppers in all shades next to fruit and vegetables. On the upper floor, next to souvenir shops, snack stalls rank side by side, offering more or less typical Hungarian food for little money.

A really nice market hall. Fortunately, we had space in our suitcases for some cans of dried paprika and for Hungarian or “false” saffron (the flowers of safflower, which give the food a wonderful yellow-orange color). Also for Cabanossi and salami from the Mangalitsa pig and from the Hungarian grey cattle.

Kürtöskalacs means pyramid cake

From the market we pass the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd) to the west bank of the Danube, past the Gellért Thermal Baths we take the steep path up to the Gellért hill with its Statue of Liberty. We save the beautiful thermal bath for another day. We plan to spend a few hours there to relax and let us affect by the wonderful architecture and the warm baths.

From the Statue of Liberty, we enjoy both the magnificent view of the Pest side of the Danube and a typical pastry, the Hungarian pyramid cake “Kürtöskalacs”. A wonderfully fluffy yeast pastry that is traditionally cooked over an open fire and then caramelized with cinnamon sugar. Caution: There is absolute danger of addiction!!!

We continue down to the bank again, always along the Danube, past the Elisabeth Bridge, then up to the sprawling Budapest Castle Complex, where you find the Hungarian National Gallery. There is currently a Frieda Kahlo exhibition taking place, but the queues at the box office are unfortunately so long that we decide against a visit and instead continue walking. In the winter months you can spend days in Budapest’s museums and galleries, that’s for sure. Same applies to the many beautiful thermal baths.

Once back on the banks of the Danube, we admire the famous Chain Bridge, but continue on the west bank until we arrive in front of the imposing Parliament building. Really impressive, a building like a fairytale. We enjoy this sight extensively with a lunch on the terrace of the restaurant “Angelika Kávéház” just opposite the parliament building: A large salad, a Mangalitsa goulash and a glass of Nyakas Budai Chardonnay for the equivalent of less than 30 euros. To enjoy.

Zene means music

Strengthened, we continue to the Margaret Bridge, from where you get to Margaret Island. What a huge recreational area in the middle of this metropolis – unique! Water tower, monastery ruins, rose garden, thermal bath, Japanese garden, outdoor theatre for plays and concerts, fitness equipment and all-round tartan jogging track – there is nothing short of it, there you can easily plan a whole day to relax during a stay in Budapest.

We enjoy the afternoon sun at the music fountain, where young and old meet to see and hear a 10-minute water concert with music every hour. By the way: music. In Budapest there is music on every corner. Whether on the streets, in the restaurants, yes, even in the outdoor area Gellért Thermal Baths are musicians, mostly trios, which provide musical accompaniment. A little nostalgic, but somehow it suits here.

After considering how long it took to get to Margaret Island, you should decide now whether to walk back along the Pest side, that is, along the eastern bank of the Danube, or rather take the tram or a ferry. The footpath described here is about 7.5 kilometres long.

Worth seeing, albeit oppressive, is in any case a memorial between the Parliament and the Chain Bridge. There are randomly forgotten metal shoes on the bank reminiscent of the shooting of Jewish Hungarians in World War II. I did not want to take a photo of these “stumbling blocks”.

No matter how you design your way back, whether you are looking at a few boulevards in Pest or heading back directly to the hotel, a short break before dinner and ideally a small foot massage in the hotel is recommended. We meet for dinner with the doctor.

Vörös Postakocsi means red stagecoach

Aperitif in the Cafe Intenzo, directly at the metro station Kalvin, just a few steps from the Hotel Kalvin. The coffee house and restaurant is very comfortably furnished and the courtyard is a small oasis in the big city bustle. The food, such as goose leg or duck liver are excellent (though a bit of a challenge in the heat) and the iced coffee is really good!

A few steps further you turn into the street “Ráday”. Here a restaurant joins the next bar, you can spend wonderful evenings, right around the corner from the hotel. Here you find everything, from the simple snack bar to the star kitchen restaurant with Restaurant Costes.

Recommended for a traditional Hungarian dinner is the restaurant “Vörös Postakocsi”, which means “red stagecoach”. We were there several times and have always felt very comfortable. There is no way around classic goulash soup, goose liver with blueberry sauce and sirloin steak from the Hungarian grey cattle. They have a good selection of wines, friendly waiters and live music.

Jazz lovers end the evening a few steps further in the IF Café Jazz Club. There, trendy jazz musicians play live and the atmosphere is relaxed. For a nightcap or a cocktail the ideal location. How good that our hotel is so close.

What exciting day we had with so many impressions and experiences – also in culinary aspects. The Hungarian cuisine is something for hearty eaters. The food is savoury, the portions large. In Germany, goose legs and sauerkraut goulash may be served mainly in the Christmas season than in midsummer. In Hungary, the temperature and the season seem insignificant.

And of course I also brought from Hungary a great recipe for a real shepherd’s goulash (nothing else is called gulyás: “made by a shepherd”). Needless to say, I had the necessary pepper supply for it in our luggage. Here you find the story and the recipe.

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