For the remainder of our week in Budapest we all decided to take it easy, going for ad hoc wanders either side of the river. This was a welcome change of approach for me; my previous trips to Europe were rushed, and in some ways plagued by too much planning as I tend to desperately try to make the most out of every minute… Having a whole 7 days in one city, however, enabled us to take it eaaasy breeeezeyy.
Our first stop was Aquincum, the Roman town of Budapest, another freebie on the Budapest card. The ruins were situated about an hour away from our hostel, and the journey involved a tram, metro, and public train that took us way out into the suburbs, beyond the Buda Hills. Fortunately the station was named after the town, and the whole complex was clearly visible from the train so we knew exactly where we had to get off. Our first impression was something along the lines of “Holy moly, it’s huge!” and we were surprised that they weren’t better heard of. As with the other museums we had visited on our trip, everything still seemed a little un-finished. Most of the areas were not labelled sufficiently so we were left to ponder over the details, but in the site’s museum detail was certainly not the problem. We were bombarded with thousands of words worth of information on the sites history and the research taking place at the time. As an Ancient Historian this was refreshing; all too often a museum’s summaries of objects over simplify to the point of being almost incorrect. Underground there was even an interactive game which, although certainly aimed at the younger generations visiting on a school trips, was pretty darn awesome.
Our day was vastly taken up by our adventure back in time, so the rest of the afternoon we decided to have a picnic in the park then power walk around the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts before it closed. The Gallery was itself a work of art; the architecture inside was alone worth visiting! As I strolled around the gallery pretty speedy I decided to fork out the cash and check out the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. It was stunning art show, and beautifully curated, although annoyingly high security so I have no pictures to show. I do not believe it is in Budapest any more, but I highly recommend you go and see his work if you get the opportunity.
For the rest of the week our time was occupied significantly by going back and fourth to GelARTo Rosa, a beautiful gelato cafe by the Bastion that made beautiful pieces of art out of the most delicious gelato I have ever consumed, all for LESS THAN A MR. WHIPPY. It was heaaavenly; the flavours that were my personal favourite had to be the salted caramel, and Pistachio. Apart from eating our weight in pretty ice-cream, we were also repeatedly drawn back to the CAT CAFE, a wondrous little place where you could drink peanut butter coffee next to kittens and MAINE COONS.
Evidently, Budapest certainly has it all. For our goodbye meal we sat down for a 3 course delight at La Cantine on Andrassy Avenue. As a vegetarian I was warned (mainly by the first line in my lonely planet’s cuisine section “Learn to love meat.”….) that I’d have problems in Budapest as the local cuisine was aaall about the meat, but La Cantine catered for my fussy vegginess just fine. I had cold melon soup for starter, paprika “noodles” for my main, and meringue for my desert. It was scrummy, and for under £8 an absolute bargain! For that quality of food and service in London, you would definitely expect to pay at least £20. The group presented me with a Hungary Football Jersey signed by every one of them, including the hostel staff. It was a very sweet token to show their appreciation, and a perfect end to a spectacular week!