My Mind’s In Budapest
Elle Hartley Smith, Features Writer
Budapest, the beautiful Capital of Hungary, has so much to offer. It has a rich, dark and somewhat disturbing history, which opens your eyes to our privilege.
The city was once two cities living side by side, with only the river to divide them. Buda, the side of the hills, watched over the river and any approaching intruders.
Pest was the flat part, the side that contains the clean Parliament and well known Christmas markets. The two sides now live in harmony as Budapest. The history of Budapest is widely available on line and other sources so let’s focus on the good stuff. High tourist attractions, food and alcohol!
This is one of the things that Hungary is known for. It has been raved about by many for a long time. However, the harsh reality is that it seems to be overrated.
I went in with high expectations – maybe that was my problem. We went to a place recommended by a local.
Sadly food presentation is not their best quality, but as the saying goes it’s not what on the outside but what’s on the inside that counts, so with an open mind I tried this purified mashed potato and stew with a generous amount of gravy.
It was almost like the flavours had to think about what to do. It was only after my third bite that I got the taste.
That was the only flavour that this traditional well known raved about dish had. Salt. Flavours are delicate things to use, meaning that too much of one flavour will over power and potentially destroy the dish.
The Goulash I had was nothing like this.
There were no hidden flavours.
There was just the one. Salt.
I’m sure you can imagine the disappointment that inhabited my entire being. Even at £3.00 for the entire dish, I felt cheated.
I fear that the recipe for this 'delicacy' has been playing Chinese Whispers. Christmas Markets Budapest's Christmas Markets are one thing that has not been corrupted by Chinese Whispers.
The Markets are a diverse set of tents that have everything from woolly hats, leather gloves to traditional smoked salmon, wood and metal crafting and rather classy trinkets.
Oh and not to forget the exceptional mulled alcohol, which usually comes in three flavours: red mulled wine, white mulled wine and warm spiced cider.
All three are as good as the other.
The cider is the sweetest I would say but not tooth-achingly sweet.
Although goulash was a let down, the Christmas markets did have a naan like bread that was not flavoured (surprise surprise) that contained sweet but salty sauerkraut (sourcrout), a meat of your choice and sauces.
While again rather salty it was one of the best Hungarian dishes I tried. Baths Of course I have to mention the Baths.
They are beautiful. Truly stunning.
Just like other buildings in Budapest it is so well looked after.
The pools vary in temperature, but the outside ones are by far my favourite.
In December the air is so cold you succumb to the penguin run between the warmth of the building to the closest pool.
You dip your feet in the mote pool, which is only just warmer than the air temperate.
The scolding hot pool very quickly becomes beautifully warm. It hugs you as you submerge yourself in the water that will fight Jack Frost.
The closest outside pool is a lazy curve shape, with jets spraying water into the centre. To one side there are waterproof magnetic portable chess tables.
Several men, of the older generation, sit playing games for hours on end, laughing cheering and hissing at moves until a champion is declared.
The best pool is at the other end. After some persuasion, mental and physical preparation for the cold cold weather we hopped out of the pool and did a quick penguin hobble to the other pool.
This one had an inbuilt lazy river that pulls you in and spits you out at the other end. If you are brave and strong enough you can get into the middle of it and sit as the gentle Jacuzzi jets move your exposed skin. There are more powerful Jacuzzi jets that sit on the bottom of the pool are close by.
The Castle and Parliament
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It sits there all day long looking at breathtaking views of the city below.
It looks more like a palace than a castle it is so well kept and up to date that it’s not a ruin like most British castles are. In fact, I did not see any buildings in ruin.
The castle has stood there since 1265, but in the mid 1700s it was expanded and renovated. The Parliament is just as well kept and working. It is the third largest Parliament building in the world. It has 691 rooms.
While it is just over 100 years old it is still a breathtaking gently gothic style building that sits on the river front. Which (I imagine) has great views from within, but it makes taking a front picture of it increasingly difficult.
All in all the city is a beautiful place and a must see!
While food and drink is not as cheap as one imagines, accommodation is. And for gooddess sake don’t drink the beer! It is about 70% water 15% lager flavour and a 15% real ale rip-off. Stick to the wine and spirits!
My Mind’s In Budapest, 24th March 2018, 14:07 PM