A Modern City of Ruins (Day 1)

Christmas Markets, Drinks, Food Lovers, Rooftop Bars, Budapest

Quite the paradoxical city when you come to think of it! Budapest is the epicentre of modern day Eastern Europe in my opinion. The city is full of history, Hungarian culture and a hidden dream for all food lovers. So having just returned from my latest 48 hour exploits, I thought as Christmas is fast approaching, why not provide you all with the best way to spend two days in this tale of two cities, Buda & Pest.

We arrived into the city by air, therefore opting to take the taxi (flotaxi – official taxi) to our Air BnB, located in the heart of central Pest. (Tip: the city has amazing Air BnB rentals suited to everyone’s tastes.) The apartment was located in district V, which is centrally located between the fashion district and Jewish quarter (the party side).

After checking in, we took a walk towards the basilica for coffee. Our first port of call was Espresso Embassy, a local coffee house with a great choice of pastries and some delightful roasted beans. The coffee house was inviting to all, an ideal place to work, read or blog.

Now the coffee may have been great, but the weather was not. This did make it difficult to enjoy the outdoor terrace at our next spot, High Note rooftop bar at the Aria hotel. Located besides the basilica, it is the ideal spot to get a glimpse of the beautiful architecture whilst enjoying some of the local wine. The rooftop had two indoor sections on either side of its open terrace, so whilst the weather outside was unpleasant, we opted to stay inside, where it was delightful. The bar was going through a transition from summer into autumn/winter, where you could see the enchanted winter forest taking shape.

The bar was a great location for some cheese and meat boards, which went down really well with the red wine. Being a week day and raining, the bar was extremely quiet but it was an ideal place to entertain clients, be it with friends or loved ones. If you find yourself in Budapest any time from next week, then get ready to enjoy the outdoor terrace with some festive decorated trees and heaters to keep you warm this winter.

Coming up to Christmas, most of Europe has adopted the German concept of having Christmas markets, Budapest not being any different.

The city currently only had one of the many markets available operational, located at Vörösmarty Square As with all Christmas markets, it’s a great place to enjoy with family or perhaps even on your own. It’s all about enjoying delights such as chimney cakes, sausages or stews, and of course mulled wine or hot chocolate.

In the excerpt I spoke of the culinary delights that are available in Budapest. With so many to choose from, the first restaurant we visited was a place called Mazel Tov (vegetarian options as well). Located in the Jewish quarter, it is a great place to dine, with plenty of options for both meat and vegetarian lovers.

The hummus with falafel and the mixed meat platter was the meal of choice for us, with another Hungarian red wine to go with it. The food was tasty and like most of Hungary, it was great value for money. The bar and restaurant are brilliantly inviting, mainly due to its fascinating decor from exposed brick walls to hanging garden and filament bulbs.

Post dinner took us along the street from Mazel Tov to an area called Gozsdu Courtyard, an area full of more ruin bars and restaurants. It certainly seemed to be the best place to kick start any night, especially Szimpla Kert, which is one of the world’s best renowned ruin bars. Ruin bars are just old disused buildings revamped and with that Szimpla has it all from multiple areas to enjoy both indoors and outdoors, in addition to an antique collector’s dream, the way in which it is decorated. Even though it can be one of the busiest places in town, Monday night was extremely quiet. Having been there plenty of times, it was truly out of character.

To check out how I spent the next day in Budapest exploring the city from both ground level and rooftops, check out Day Two here.