ENJOYING the local cuisines of Hong Kong by night and savoring the best pizza in Milan by day is pretty much an understatement. Traveling to different countries might seem too expensive for everyone's tastes but don't get me wrong, I am always on a budget. Traveling to more than 10 places in a month is not an unusual experience for an international flight attendant like me, but there is surely that one place I've been to that outshines the others.
Although most places that I've been to were amazing, nothing will take your breath away more than the lovely Budapest. Being the capital city of Hungary, it's filled with hundreds of healing spas, stunning underground labyrinths, the oldest wine village plus the pinball museum that lets one choose over a hundred and fifty varieties of pinball games.
Located at the heart of Europe, its stunning architecture, refreshing scenery and huge thermal baths surely is one's dream destination.
During my short visit, I was able to feast on their local food and tourist attractions despite being on a tight budget. Wandering through the array of beautiful old houses and old renaissance buildings, I came upon the famous streets of Vaci Utka where Café De Paris, which is known to serve best Sekler cake called "Kürtoskalács," is situated.
Kürtoskalács is a sweetened soft bread rolled and grilled over charcoal and sprinkled with the topping of your choice. You can top it with vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate or plain for only a couple of a hundred pesos. Its thin and crisp layer on the outside evens the softness on the inside. The pastry is quite big for one person, so it's best to share it with someone. After devouring it with a nice cup of coffee, I set forth the most famous Central Market Hall.
Going to the market by foot only takes you less than eight minutes. It's filled with deli stores with the best cuts of beef, cakes and cheese, including some local restaurants and souvenir shops should you want to buy some stuff.
There, I tried the famous Kolbice at Kolbice, a Hungarian version of pizza in a cone. Each bite is filled with the goodness of perfectly grilled mini sausages, oozing mozzarella cheese, chili and mustard. The dish is best paired with beer and you can feast on it for only P200. With a beer in hand plus my Kolbice, I walk around the city and suddenly realize the beauty of Budapest's architecture. Clearly one can see history engraved in the walls of all its post renaissance buildings.
From the market, the picturesque Chain bridge that connects the Buda and Pest is only a few minutes away. History says it is the most symbolic and oldest structure in Budapest. Just at the middle of the bridge lies lots of Instagram-worthy shots, so be sure to capture them all.
The most exciting part in the trip is the Buda Castle. Just across the bridge is a tram that will take you up to the castle district. When you reach the place, a breathtaking panorama of the Danube with the Chain Bridge and Pest side of the city awaits. Not only that, the castle ground is rich in historic sites and attractions that are beyond beautiful. It is the best combination of river, mountain and architecture in any capital city of the world.
At night, the city of lights emerge and you will instantly fall in love with the amazing structures such as the Matthias Church, Fishermen's Bastion, Faust Wine Cellar and a couple of museums. They will enrich your mind with the former glory and vast history of its place.
Inside the Matthias Church is a huge collection of religious treasure trove filled with an almost golden interior. Upon entering, I was amazed at the beautiful and intricately patterned wall linings and glass windows. You can also see paintings from the bible hanging on the walls of the church museum.
At the fisherman's Bastion, anyone can indulge in coffee or tea over the majestic view at the center of the hill. The Faust Wine Cellar lets you taste and feast on the unlimited choices of premium aged wine and cheese Budapest can offer.
With my unending gastronomic curiosity, I settled in a nice fancy restaurant at the Premiere Kultcafe. There, I enjoy eating an authentic local Cheese pizza generously filled with parma ham, parmigianoreggiano and fresh herbs. The crispy thin slices paired with an assortment of cheese on top and the right amount of sauce made it the best pizza I've ever tasted in my whole life.
Clearly, there is still so much more to explore in this beautiful city. The thermal baths, cable cars and other exciting places still await me the next time I visit. From its vast history and rich culture, Budapest evokes a strong sense of history and tradition at every turn.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 27, 2017.
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