Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our day in Budapest Continues! On Wheels! Day 6, May 31, 2016

Alex and I left off after our fantastic food tour and caught the Hop On Hop Off bus, heading towards Heroes Square. We had a bit of time before our next adventure so the thought we'd get a bit more sightseeing in. 

We were following our now familiar loop, passing Parliament....

But this time we veered off to a new direction and got to see some new streets, and buildings and parts of Budapest we hadn't seen yet!

We took the bus to Heroes Square, which is one of the most visited spots in Budapest.

We would be coming back here again, but here there is the Millennium Monument, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the square is surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts on one side and the Hall of Art on the other. 

Our plan was to walk from here down Andrassy Avenue, which is a beautiful wide street filled with shops and restaurants, to get to our next tour. We sort of underestimated how long of a walk it would be!  While we did walk it, it was more of a sprint than a stroll!

We made it though, and we were pretty excited!  It would be our first time to try a Segway tour! And we ended up being the only two people to be on this tour, which made it extra great! I was pretty glad too, because I felt more at ease with it all, and felt I was able to go at our own pace. Even though I think I picked it up pretty easily, being the only two in our group, I never felt like we were rushed at all. 

We started with a short lesson on how to maneuver the Segway and when we felt comfortable, off we went! We went all over the city. Our guide was great, and he would stop often, giving us mini-history lessons and allowing us to take plenty of pictures.

Our first stop was at St. Stephen's Cathedral. 

Alex made sure to get the "look mom, no hands" pose in!

Then we made our way all the way to Margaret Island. I was really glad we got there. It was so beautiful! Almost had a Central Park feel to it. I know if not for the Segway Tour, we wouldn't have made it there.

Then we stopped on the bridge that connects Buda and Pest, for of course, another view of the river and the Parliament Building.

The Danube was beautiful as evening started to fall...

We moved along, and as we became more comfortable on the Segways, we really picked up some speed. It was definitely a fun way to travel the city, seeing so many areas in a relatively short time!

At each stop we learned a bit more. And often we'd stop, but and I wouldn't be able to take pictures because we'd pause for just a short time. But we stopped at many, many monuments!  Budapest is filled with so many significant monuments from their fascinating history.

Our tour lasted just about 3 hours, which seemed to be a perfect length for me. Afterward Alex and I walked back to our hotel, stopping for dinner at a cafe near the Opera House. Here we had the best pizza! 

Today was such a great day in Budapest! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Our first full day in Budapest - It's a Food Tour Day!!! - Day 6, Tuesday, May 31st

Today is our first full day in Budapest and we have quite a day planned! One of the activities that I love to do in a new city is a Food Tour. It's a great way to be introduced not only to the city itself, but also to the culture of the city! So this morning, Alex and I set out on a Food and Market Tour! We were up early and set out with our map to find the Grand Market Hall! We'd heard about this Grand Market, so it shouldn't be hard to find! It was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. 

Some sights along the way...

And here we were!  We made it!

We were a few minutes early, so we went inside and wandered around just a bit. For those of you familiar with Philadelphia, and the Reading Terminal Market, it had a very similar feel to me. 

Slowly everyone from our group wandered in, and we met our guide, Szophia. There were a total of only 6 of us, so this was a great sized small group! We went up to the upper level of the hall and Szophia told us the history of the Market Hall, as we took it all in. So much activity!

Our first stop was a little bar in the corner upstairs. We all had a shot of Unicum. This is a traditional Hungarian aperitif made with an infusion of over 40 herbs, and the recipe is said to be secret. It's really quite bitter, but not so bad! There is a story behind the recipe that involves royalty and death....

Our next stop here in the market was for Strudel! We went downstairs to where the pastry section was. We learned all about the traditional Hungarian strudels. There are so many varieties! Strudels in Hungary look much different from what we would envision a typical strudel as. We could choose from varieties including: poppy seed, cabbage, cottage cheese, and then the more traditional fruit ones - such as cherry, pear, apple and so on.  I chose apple and caramel and Alex chose cherry. Both were very good! Freshly baked and still warm!

After enjoying our strudels, we moved on to learn about perhaps the item that Hungary is most known for - the pepper!  Paprika! This is a true staple of Hungary! We visited a few different stalls and Szophia showed us how we could tell which Paprika was authentic and which wasn't. She showed us which we should buy to take home, and which to leave here. And we looked at many fresh produce stands as well. 

Even some pasta!  Hungarians make a lot of soup. Pasta is very big in their soup and also the side dishes for their goulash.

Next stop in the Market was a sausage maker. Szophia had them slice up some different meats just for us. 

She told us what each of our choices on the tray were

All quite fresh and homemade here by the butcher....We had a choice of two traditional pork salami's.  One was spicier than the other.  Then we had venison salami.  Then it got a bit too much for me.  There was beef tongue, that's on the far end.  And the one closest is horse salami.  Yup, horse. So, yea - I had just the two traditional salami's. Alex, he tried them all. The kid who is the pickiest eater at home had tongue, horse and venison in Budapest!  As for the horse, Szophia told us that they do not raise horse to eat, but when a horse has to be put down - either a race horse or for any other reason, they believe in eating it. Using the whole animal. 

After the Market, we still had quite a few stops to go!  So, we made our way outside and into Budapest heading to a coffee shop. Traditional coffee shops are more for gathering than known for coffee.  Therefore we went to more of a "trendy" coffee shop. One with a true Barista and were able to try some unique coffees! I had a latte, being the daring one, and Alex had an Ethiopian Espresso. Alex's had quite a citrus flavor.  It was very unique!

And now, believe it or not, it was time for lunch! We made our way to a "butcher" lunch restaurant!  Some sights on the way to the lunch restaurant....

This was quite a restaurant!  The tables were tall butcher blocks that you stand at outside. 

Szophia ordered inside and all of the food was brought out family style.  There was so much food! Big, hearty plates of food! 

We had big chunks of bread, which is to sop up all of the sauces.  Bread is a big part of every meal. There were sausages of all types. Cabbage, horseradish and peppers and pickles stuffed with cabbage.  There was a ratatouille made of sausage, peppers, and zucchini.  There was mustard....and we had a cold fruit and yogurt soup at the end...there was just so much food! And every single bit of it was delicious!

Oh, but we weren't done yet! We kept walking....

And our next stop was a pastry shop...

We had to have cakes and ice cream right?

We all got to sample the traditional layer cakes of Budapest. These cakes are only sold at bakeries because they are very time intensive to make.  They typically wouldn't be served as dessert in a restaurant for example. They each have 7 or 8 layers. We had Hazelnut layer and we also had a walnut layer cake.  And we each also had ice cream.

Once we finished our dessert, we moved on to our final stop.  Wine and Cheese tasting!

Here we had a sample of 3 locally produced wines and various cheeses.  Hungary is actually a big wine producer! 

This was one of the best Food & Market tours we had been on. Not only were the places we visited unique, but our guide was fantastic, and that makes the tour so wonderful! We left with such an appreciation of the food and culture of Budapest! 

Our day wasn't over though....Alex and I picked up our Hop on Hop off bus close to where the tour ended. 

We still had 24 hours left on our pass since we had purchased the 2 day pass.  We enjoyed the ride to our next destination!