Pest side of Budapest

21 March

We left our hotel around 9 today and walked to the Jewish Quarter. A friend sent me a ton of different places to eat and things to do while in Budapest so we checked out one of the breakfast places on his list, á table!. I got sort of eggs benedict type of meal – I’m really into the poached egg thing now. Unfortunately Margaret wasn’t feeling well so she wanted to head back to the hotel to rest a little longer hoping to feel better.

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When we got back I talked to reception about boat tours we could do on the Danube and then caught up on some journal entries. By 11 she was feeling a bit better so we signed up for a boat tour at 12:30. We had an hour and half to kill before that so it was time for some sightseeing!

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We walked to the Central Market Hall to start. It’s a huge restored hall that houses fresh produce on the ground floor and souvenirs on the first floor. All the fresh fruit and veggies looked incredible and I think going to a market like this is a good start to learning a language. Everything is labeled so all you have to do is walk around and struggle to actually pronounce anything.

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From the market we walked along the Danube towards the boat docks. The river is really brown and moves pretty quickly. Definitely not anything I’d want to get caught in. We got to the dock a little early but the weather in Budapest was sunny and warm so no complaints from me sitting outside.

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The boat ride we took was with the company Legenda. They offered a ton of different packages and included in their tour is a free drink of your choice and a lemonade. The boat ride was remotely empty so it was super easy to take all the pictures we wanted. They gave everyone an audio guide as well which talked about different buildings along the river. There was an option to stop at Margaret Island but we passed since we wanted to see some museums and we got a late start. I really enjoyed the ride and you get some pretty nice views from the river.

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After disembarking the boat we made our way to the House of Terror museum stopping for a quick lunch on the way. The museum was extremely fascinating because in the US we don’t learn as much about the Eastern European side of the war. Hungary clearly has a very troubled and complex past and the museum did a great job of showcasing the reality of that.

We stopped for a treat after reading through so many melancholy facts and then went to the Dohány Street Synagogue. The place is rather expensive to get into but it is gorgeous. I’m consistently shocked by all the decor. The synagogue has a museum with a lot of artifacts and a garden cemetery. All the stones there are dedicated to mass graves.

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We went back to our hotel for a little R&R before dinner and then headed back to the Jewish Quarter. We went to a place called Fat Mama since the menu looked good and our hotel offered a coupon. The place was super mod and served up some barbecue style food. We shared some Hungarian wine and I ordered some pork spare ribs that were so tender they fell right off the bone. I can’t remember the last time I had ribs and these really did it for me.

We passed a street food market on the way back with a stand serving up chimney cakes. I heard about these before we got here so obviously we had to test out the local pastry. It was delicious – a little crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside, coated in cinnamon-sugar. We couldn’t help but laugh about the shape of it though.

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All we had been hearing about from friends were the ruin bars in Budapest so we went to the most well-known one, Szimpla. Turns out it’s actually really cool even if it resembles a glorified junk-yard. The building is actually in ruin from being abandoned for so many years. We just had one drink there to check it out. Traveling just the two of us we don’t always feel totally comfortable walking back late at night in a foreign city. Seems like the opposite of what we should be doing as college students traveling but better safe than sorry when you ask me!

Already in love with this bustling city.

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