Memories of Budapest

About a month ago I mentioned that all I have to show for my 2004 trip to Budapest were ten rather lousy photos. I suggested I might manage a few more than that on this years trip to the Hungarian capital. Well, the photo processing and uploading process is finally complete, and the final tally of shots kept (from a total of 1300 plus photos taken) stands at very nearly five hundred. There are, however, a couple of reasons for such a high number of keepers. Firstly, I didn’t delete very many of my photos of Mrs P or myself – there’s a single album of those containing more than 140 shots. Secondly, we were gone for seven nights. Longer than the average ‘city break’.

And lastly, I kept a few of the scraps, that would normally be discarded. I wanted to play with some Lightroom Presets that I’d downloaded. Adobe Lightroom is one powerful piece of software, and Presets (rather than the filters that you apply in most editing software) can produce some very funky finishes. The photo below is one. The rest are to be found in a set of Flickr – click here.

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I’ve written a couple of prior posts about our stay in Budapest. This is my last, and perhaps only worth reading if you have a trip there planned. Although, if you haven’t got Budapest on your travel radar, then adjust your settings. Move it to, or at least close to, the top of your list. It’s a glorious city in so many ways. The architecture, history and transport system I have already touched on. But there’s more to it than that. The food is fantastic. Really, really good. Better than we had in Paris, for less expenditure. If you like Goulash, that will help. If you don’t there’s plenty else on offer.

Menza is a modern restaurant, with a lovely outside seating area, vibrant interior and great service. It looks like it’ll be expensive when you approach it – it has a quality vibe. Their food tastes like it should be expensive. And yet, whilst not cheap, you’ll leave feeling you had a right bargain. Cafe New York is a more elegant, plush and upmarket restaurant altogether. It looks like it will be very pricey. And it is. But a cup of coffee and a bread basket for breakfast is perfectly doable, even for shoestring travelers like myself. And given that you get to sit in one of the most gorgeous buildings you’ll ever see, the price becomes even easier to swallow – see my photos of this cafe here. If the price is too steep, head back to Andrassy Avenue, not far from Menza, and pop into the Alexandra Bookshop. Up the escalator is a coffee house that comes a close second best to Cafe New York.

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The Central Market hall is a great place to wander around in the afternoon to buy supplies of salami, paprika, caviar and (if you’re not fussed about the method of production) foie grois. Photos of the market are here. But do leave time on at least one afternoon to have lunch at one of the three branches of Trofea Grill. The food is excellent, the service too. And at little more than £10 for an eat and drink as much as you want buffet, it’s a serious steal. The ‘drink’ includes, champagne, beer, wine or soft drinks. All included in the price. Seriously. If your stays clocks into 5pm (or if you arrive in the evening) the price goes up, but it’s still a darned good deal. Incidentally, prior to my trip to Budapest, I had been singing the praises of the Mongolian Grill, which I visited in 2003 and which does a similar deal. We tried to go this time as well, but fell foul of their new opening times – for winter, one would presume. They’ve  abandoned the lunch time opening. Anyway, I’ve sampled both, and Trofea would now be my automatic default choice.

Once you’ve stuffed yourself to the point you can’t move, you’ll need some seated entertainment for the evening. There’s two obvious choices for the tourist. The Hungarian Folklore which performs in various theatres, and the Opera House. We did both. The Folklore performance cost us about £10 each, to watch what started as a pleasant and humorous display of traditional garb and song. Then ended with umpteen repetitions of the same moves, many of which appear to have been stolen from Michael Jackson.  On the other hand, you can grab tickets to see the latest rendition of one of Hungary’s most famous operas, Hunyadi Laszlo, in the glorious Opera House, for about £3.5 each. The was a digital board to read what was being said (in English) so following the story was no problem. If you have time only to see with the folklore display, or an opera, it really is a no brainer. The latter. Click here for photos.

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We have come to the end. I have said all I have to say about Budapest without becoming overly repetitive. It’s a glorious city. One of Europe’s finest. In fact, I’d place it in my top three when including value as a metric. It’s exciting, vibrant, historic, attractive…heck, throw in any positive adjective you want. The place really is a treasure. I’ll finish by disclosing just a couple more sets I have uploaded to Flickr. Take a walk with my along the Streets of Budapest and then for a leisurely stroll along the River Danube. If you missed any of my earlier Budapest posts, then the entire collection of albums can be found here.

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