Budapest, you're a beauty
Budapest was the one city where I wish we’d had an extra day. For me, running the marathon was a great choice and I don’t regret it at all, but I would have enjoyed an extra day there to do and see more, like Terror Haza, for example. But I digress, because I definitely do not regret a second of the time we spent there and we saw many of the highlights.
My friend and I arrived on a Friday evening with plans to check-in, freshen up, and get back out the door to see some sights at a leisurely pace, get the lay of the land, and explore the city at dusk/into the evening and eventually eat dinner at a restaurant called Mazel Tov. (CASH ONLY!)
The first two days we did see a lot: the Opera House at night, St. Stephen’s Basilica at night, the Shoes Along the River monument, Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, St.Matthias’s Church, and Parliament from many different views as well as Hosok Tere (Heroe’s Square). The city really is gorgeous, everywhere we turned, there was just another gorgeous view or building - this was a them on the trip too - and we couldn’t get enough.
The day of the marathon, my friend went to Alexandra Book Cafe while I ran and then we visited St. Stephen’s Basilica in daytime and relaxed in the evening at the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. If you remember from my trip to Iceland in August 2015, I visited the Blue Lagoon the day after the Reykjavik marathon, so some kind of hot water is my post-marathon treat/recovery.
All in all, I am so glad I ran a marathon in Budapest and that we started our trip in this gorgeous city. Hungary will always be special to me because a marathon seems to connect me to a city becuase I literally ran all over and experienced every emotion during the race. However, I will definitely be back! The people of Budapest were warm, friendly, and fun-loving (in the best way!). We encountered many people who spoke English even though we tried very hard to say hello, thank you, please, etc, in Hungarian. Not “cheers” though, that was very difficult!
I want to thank my friend for compiling the list of places we ate and I’m going to recommend them here.
- Bock Bistro - huge pork schnitzel, good wine, impeccable service, it was in our hotel (Hotel Corinthia Budapest) and my pre-marathon dinner
- Divino Wine Bar - we had wine here one day and then ate lunch here after the race, I ate their burger and had rose wine twice, located in the shadow of St. Stephen’s Basilica and if you snag a spot on the terrace, it is a great place to people watch (there are heaters).
- Jamie’s Italian - we wandered in here not knowing it was a chain but it hit the spot and was delicious
- Mazel Tov - The food was delicious, the space beautiful, and the vibe was young and fun. They had a fantastic DJ who really seemed to love her job. It was very inexpensive and cash only.
- New York Cafe - we had breakfast here, mid-range price for Budapest, very tasty, serves all meals because it is within a hotel. we got there early enough to beat the Saturday breakfast/brunch crowd. Gorgeous interior and our hotel limo driver (transport from the airport) even mentioned it was delicious as we passed by it on our way into the city. I can confirm this as well. :)
- Boutiq Bar - this place was so cute and a ruin bar and had amazing, innovative cocktails. It is worth the visit! The cocktails will cost you about $7-$9 after the conversion rate. If you’re watching the bartender make your cocktail here, you will be entertained by that alone. The crowd was fun and the place had a nice vibe.
- Szimpla Cafe/Craft Beer Bar - another ruin pub that we stopped into to grab beers to go, then they accompanied us all the way to Vienna and we drank them on our train ride to Prague. I paid about $5 for two Hungarian IPA’s here. The owner patiently stepped away from the register to help me select beers despite the fact that there was a line and the people in line just patiently waited. This is also a bar where you can order drinks to stay, not just take-away.
A note on transportation in Budapest - there is no Uber. Taxis are not regulated and they can charge you whatever you want if they’re not a certain kind. Knowing that, we hired a car from our hotel to pick us up from the airport to take us to the hotel. Then we hailed a taxi from our hotel upon checkout to go to Keleti (the train station). We took the Metro and walked everywhere. The Metro is very easy to figure out and very inexpensive. It is also really clean! It puts the Chicago Transit to shame. I highly recommend using it if you go to Budapest and want to experience it as well as just for getting around.
Budapest, I’ll be back.