WORDS & Photography: AM
A fascinating, almost hypnotic east-meets-west city formed by the palatial hills of Buda and the flat boulevards of Pest - with the Danube running down the middle. It is gritty and romantic, young and old, tranquil and majestic, crumbling and rejuvenated with reminders of its belle époque grandeur, as well as the communist and fascist rule, at every turn. There are polished luxury hotels and ruin bars in equal measures as well as some of the worlds grandest thermal baths and an abundance of culture, so much so that you can feel the ghosts of Korda, Curtiz, Lugosi et al holding court in the grand cafés.
Then of course there is the food, the cakes, the coffee - there are great restaurants, cafés and bars everywhere. Yet, it is very apparent that this city is not interested in the latest foodie trends, but rather has a huge curiosity about contemporary cuisine as well as being tremendously proud of its native fare.
Budapest is conveniently divided into numbered neighbourhoods and throughout our longstanding love affair with this vibrant city we have rented a fantastic apartment on the border between the 6th and the 7th, keeping ourselves mainly to these areas and the 5th, with the odd trip over to the 1st. This also makes it a very walkable city - an added bonus seeing as no trip to Budapest is complete without eating your bodyweight in traditional cakes.
Some noteworthy mentions:
Művész Kávéház - a old world treasure of faded elegance and sweet treats.
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé - a bean-to-bar artisan chocolatier.
Cs!pesz - could possibly serve the best burger in the city.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths - a neo-baroque sanctuary with 18 geothermal pools.
Centrál Kávéház - a gorgeous art nouveau space, grand café culture at its best.
The Great Market Hall - a gothic temple of culinary treats.
Konyha - come for breakfast, stay for lunch.
My Little Melbourne - seriously friendly third wave coffeeshop.
And above all - walk, walk and then walk some more.