Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bathing and Eating in Budapest

There's so much to tell you about Budapest that I don't even know where to start! With it's gorgeous architecture; stunning vistas; steamy Roman baths; and delicious pastries, it quickly became one of my favorite cities. The fact that we got to see the city all decked out for Christmas was just icing on the cake.

Let's start with the baths. I've never been to Roman baths before, and I was worried about whether we could bring Zahara with us. Turns out I worried for nothing. This was one of the best experiences of the trip.

We researched the various options in advance to see which bath would be best for us. We decided upon the Sz├ęcheny baths, which are supposed to be a bit less touristy than the Gellert baths. The building and pools were stunning, and we saw plenty of locals proudly sporting their speedos. We sprung the extra $2.25 for a private changing cabin. The baths were pricey ($40 total), but we spent hours there. We spent most of our time inside, but of course we had to check out the outdoor pool that was heated to around 95 degrees. Zoey could not get enough splashing in the fountain! My favorites spots were the hot sauna (there were two temperatures to choose from), and the 100˚ F pools.

Check out the steam!

Another huge highlight for me was the food. Who's surprised? Of course I was a big fan of the desserts in Hungary. It's so hard to find anywhere outside of Eastern or Central Europe, but I just love poppy seed filling! One really fun dessert place we stumbled upon was called Jegbufe. It's basically a dessert cafeteria! It took me a while to understand what was happening inside, but I finally got it. You have to order at the cashier and then bring your paid ticket to the counter where they'll grab your dessert for you to take away. Sounds straightforward, but do you know the Hungarian word for  poppy seed and cherry cake? Me either. I ended up having to bring the cashier to the case and point to the one I wanted. We got there in the end though.

Hungary has a very active Jewish population and actually has several kosher restaurants. We ate at Carmel to experience a traditional Hungarian meal. Unfortunately they were out of veal so we couldn't get a weiner schnitzel, but we did get cold chicken crackling as an appetizer. It was delicious, as long as you don't spend too much time thinking about what it really is--fried chicken skin). I loved how crunchy and salty it was and the raw vegetables balanced it nicely.

Another fried favorite was the, for lack of a better word, giant latke at the Christmas market. I think the German word is kartoffelpuffer, but it's the same thing: a fried potato pancake. This was one of the best ones I've ever eaten. The seasoning was incredible. It was pipping hot and topped with cold sour cream. Yum!

Stay tuned for more Budapest highlights!

Read about our other stops in Central Europe:

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