Wanderlust Wonderland

First day in Budapest: Buda castle, live fish and interesting dishes

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A while back, I visited the lovely city of Budapest with our student’s association. I can’t remember much of this trip besides the obvious highlights, such as the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Széchenyi Spa and the restaurant where we could draw on our placemats. I did keep a diary back then and I made lots of pictures (though, I have to say, my photography skills were pretty much non-existent at that time) so I want to write a few posts about the city of bridges!

We stayed at the Budapest hostel which was decent, but not very special. Since we were with our student group, I didn’t plan any of this trip but rather followed our group. The first highlight they planned to visit was the Kazinczy Utca Synagogue.

It was built in 1913 in an art-nouveau style which looked absolutely stunning (way prettier than it looks in my pictures, I can assure you). Lots of colour, glass stained windows and the Torah in the middle of the synagogue. This was my first time visiting a synagogue and I was in awe. It looked so much prettier than most Catholic churches I visited!

We walked around a bit, taking in the scenery and the buildings around us, before heading towards the Great Market Hall, also known as Nagycsarnok. It is said to be the prettiest market in the whole world… I’m not sure about that, but it certainly is a great place to get buns, bread, veggies, meat, fish and lots and lots of souvenirs.

We bought some buns and sweets, which were absolutely delicious, and wandered around the market for a while. I remember going downstairs to the area where they sold fish. And they were still alive! I hadn’t traveled much at this time and was flabbergasted and horrified by the fact that you could choose a live fish, which they then prepared for you. Horrified. I walked away quickly, not buying any fish…

Budapest is a really pretty city. We visited in april which meant it wasn’t too crowded but the weather was nice enough to have a good time. When we had bought our sandwiches (without fish) we sat down in the sun for lunch, before joining our group again for the rest of our day.

We crossed the first bridge of our trip, the Liberty Bridge. Budapest is divided in two parts: Buda and Pest and the city has built 9 bridges to cross from one side to the other. We crossed this one our way to Várhegy.

The sun was shining when we got there. Várhegy is the Castle hill where you’ll find the the Buda Castle, the national gallery and also lots of beautiful statues in the park that surrounds the castle.

The Budacastle is built in two parts, one older part that was built in 1265 and a baroque part that occupies the largest part of the site, which was finished 400 years later. It seems I don’t have any pictures of the entire thing, which was quite pretty. I guess I’ll have to back sometime…

We stayed here for a bit, enjoying the sun and the beautiful surroundings. We also visited the national gallery (where I wasn’t aloud to take pictures) but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to pay attention to lots of the artwork. Another reason to come back again…

On top of the castle hill, we got a great view over the rest of the city of Budapest, which we would explore later on.

We went back to our hostel to rest a bit, before finding a place to eat. We decided to go to Restaurant M which was a fun little restaurant where the placemats were paper and all tables had coloring pencils on them, so you could draw on the placemats while waiting for your dinner. Which of course, we did. It was fun!

The food was pretty good too. I had chicken goulash with noodles which was pretty yummy!

Another dish the restaurant served was cock ball stew. A friend of mine wanted to try them but decided against it, since he had been sick the entire day already. There was a man at the table next to ours who was brave enough to order them, though he did not know what it was. When the waiter came to take his order, he said he wanted to try this dish, asking if it was something special. The waiter just looked at him, asked if he knew what exactly he was ordering. He shook his head so the waiter explained and the man’s face slowly turned white and then he couldn’t stop shaking his head, saying ‘no, no, no! I don’t want THAT!’

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