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Intrepid Trip 1 - Hungary & Starting Our Intrepid

Explore Eastern Europe Part 1

Sorry about the delay in posting up a blog entry guys. Our computer does not like Italian internet but we/I have got there (Yay!) So it was just over a week ago now that we finished our Intrepid. Here is a little (or a lot) about our 18 days of Central (even though the Intrepid is named Eastern) Europe experience.
So back to the beginning…

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We arrived to Budapest, a beautiful city to find our AirBnB apartment to be stunning and in a perfect location. It was better than the photos looked when we booked it and was near parliament so we could train or wander anywhere we needed. Our first mission was to the central markets as we were ravenous... Sadly the market closed 30 minutes after we arrived so no exploring but we managed a deliciously moist piece of hazelnut cake and two types of langos; the traditional version ... fried bread with sour cream, cheese and tomato pieces which was sensational! We haven't found one as delicious since this one. The bread was hot with a crunchy outside and doughy centre. The sour cream was thin seen as it was hot and the cheese had slightly melted through. The tomatoes added freshness to break the richness of all the dairy. The rustic version, which was bread cooked in a pan thinly and covered with sour cream, ham, mushrooms and cheese and then folded like a massive pancake in half. It was good but it couldn’t compete with the deep fried deliciousness of the traditional version.

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We continued on exploring this amazing city with a walk along the river. There were painters, tourists and buskers galore. The most impressive was a large jazz ensemble who were playing and singing some incredible tunes. We saw the hoards of tourists crossing the chain bridge and decided to tackle that the next day. By the time we had got home we had already decided that we didn't have enough time to discover Budapest and we would need to come back.

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The next day was our Intrepid meet up day. We had the day to explore before the evening brief and dinner. We went to the Jewish memorial near parliament that we had heard briefly about in Berlin on our walking tour. The memorial is of rusted shoes on the bank of the river. As this was where a lot of Jewish people were shot during World War 2. It was moving place...For me personally I think it may have been the most moving Jewish memorial I have seen so far. It is also strategically placed near parliament. Why it struct a chord I'm not sure but it is a must see on a trip to Budapest.

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After taking some time to reflect we headed on a mission to find a few of the pastry shops that Budapest is renowned for. Instead of a pastry shop we happened to stumble across a little market with stews and trinkets. We had a hearty feast of beef stew with vegetables and small dumplings for lunch. I had to of course top that off with a piece of cherry cheese strudel. I'm not a fan of the crumbly curd-like consistency of the cheese but it tasted delicious none the less.

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We headed over the chain bridge, and up the funicular to see the castle and of course the view from the other side of the river. The view was sensational! You could see the whole way down the river in each direction. We also saw the beautifully decorated church. After heading back over the bridge it was off to another pastry shop on our way back to our meeting.

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This one was called The Sugar Shop and it was sugar heaven on an extreme level! The story goes that the one of the pastry chefs decided that their creations looked boring and decided they need to be more exciting and fun; this is how the sugar shop was formed. Lewis had cookies flavoured creamed rice with chocolate and I had a strawberry mille-feuille. They both were sensational. Everything seemed to have a child's playroom theme. It was an awesome place and even the smell of sugar made you a little hyperactive.

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It was finally time to meet our group for our Intrepid travel trip. We were a group of 9 (including our guide, Tomi who was Slovakian and excellent) and the only non-Australians on the tour. Our group was a little different age wise than what we expected with us being the youngest and the rest of the group was made up of at least one from every decade up to there 70’s. This wasn’t a bad thing, it was just different than what we were expecting. After being given some guidelines on what to expect on our trip and an early meeting time of 7.15am we were off to dinner.

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My aim to have goulash in Hungary happened. Goulash is a soup rather than a stew in Hungary (I was surprised when Tomi broke the news to me). My goulash was delicious with its rich paprika broth and chunks of beef. It was just what I needed. Lewis got a Hungarian pizza, which was dough cooked in a hot pan with sour cream, cheese, mushrooms and ham that was then grilled at the end. It was another version of a Langos and again was quite delicious.

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Tomi offered to show us a few ruin bars in the area of our hotel. A ruin bar is basically recycled furniture in an abandoned building...I know doesn't sound that great right? Wrong! These bars are funky and cool. They are like going into an amazing antique/secondhand shop. The bars we went to were the larger of the ruin bars and had different sections to coincide with whatever kind of mood you were after. Quiet background music, band, jazz, electric. We stayed for a few drinks and enjoyed looking around at all the random art and furniture. Tomi was explaining that they constantly acquiring new items so it looks different every time you go. The bar had an open courtyard area in the middle and was over a couple of storeys. The courtyard also had recycled furniture like the shell of a car that had been turned into a table and chairs and cinema stools. The place would have been condemned back at home. The other ruin bar we went to was more of a nightclub with different DJ's in each room. It had an interesting animal theme with mirrored pigs above the dance floor and animal heads in family pictures. The bars were pretty busy even on a Sunday evening. We wished we didn't have an early start so we could make the most of the bars; yet another reason to return to Budapest.

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The next day we headed to Eger, a small Hungarian city that is renowned for its fortress that kept 30,000 Turks while highly outnumbered and it’s vineyards. We had lunch at the local school canteen. Basic cheap school food was an experience and wasn't as terrible as I expected it too be. Numerous locals go there for lunch. I guess you could think of it as an RSA lunch Hungarian style. That night we headed to a wine cave to wine taste in Szépasszonyvölgy (The Valley of the Beautiful Woman)...the main story for how the valley got its name is from men going into the wine cave and coming out and thinking that all the women looked beautiful.

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Our host was a lovely lady who explained the vineyard was on the hills above us. We tried more wine than I remember. They included the young lady wine (a sweet white) and bulls blood (apparently how they fought off the turks when out numbered and was good for stamina ;) )

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We stumbled home after hugs with bottles to drink over the next few days. The cave was amazing. It was dim and damp. It was like a little secret chamber. Our host did a bit of pipetting of wine into mouths. They way she poured the wine was impressive. The pipetting helped air-rate the wine and was apparently the reason for it.

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Posted by chellebelle 07:29 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest memorial jewish bars intrepid lagos ruin sugar airbnb goulash Comments (0)

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