Jokai Bableaves is No Joke
I likely would not have tried many local foods in Budapest if it had not been for the proprietors of the two bed and breakfasts in Budapest. Both provided good advice on what to see and things to eat.
Jokai bableaves is bean soup Hungarian style. The soup is named after Mor Jokai a 19th century Hungarian writer. The soup which is served hot consists of kidney beans, ham, sausages, carrots, parsley root and is topped with sour cream. The taste is nothing like the canned bean soups or even restaurant soups back in the United States. It has a much heavier consistency and a really filling taste. Reminds me most of a ham and bean soup that I had in Wisconsin.
The soup is sold, among other places, on the second floor in the old market place in downtown Budapest. Cost for a small bowl is about 1000 forint or roughly $ 4. i saw several other soups in my three days in Budapest. Makes sense given that a good portion of the year the weather is cold and damp in Budapest. One that I didn't think came in soup form goulash soup. A tip for another time. In the meantime a little copy of jokai will do you good and that's no joke.
Try A Langos
At first seeing a langos I thought it might be a tostada or pizza. However with a taste test I discovered a langos had a taste all of its own that cannot be compared to anything else. The name comes from the Hungarian word for flame "lang," which relates back to when all langos were cooked in brick ovens. From talking to the owner of one of the places I stayed I found that tradiitionally langos were served for breakfast.
Langos is made with a bread like dough, yeast, water or milk and fried in oil. Healthy it is not. Tasty it is. Langos are most commonly eaten warm with sour cream, onion or cheese. In markets and on the street you will see langos often sold with sausages, ham, tomatoes, cabbage, mushroom, lettuce and basically anything else that may go on fried bread dough. Even strawberries, bluieberries and other fruits on a langos.
The taste was unique. Kind of a cross between fried bread, a doughnut, and a pizza. Definitely I felt it should be eaten hot. My first langos was consumed in the second floor of the old downtown market. A langos with sour cream and cheese ran about two dollars US.
MONUMENTS - STATUES - FOUNTAINS
BUDAPEST - I NAME - "THE CITY OF MONUMENTS."
I have never seen so many in any city that I have visited in the world. Budapest is filled with statues comprising of Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary to composers, notable Hungarian artists, architects and political figures. Statues can be seen in almost every district in the city!
I actually found a site [listed below] that has named all of them and given descriptions on most.
I would have loved the time to check many more out, but what a job that would be. Most are impressive, some filled me with sadness, others were funny, many were unique and quite a few I could take a seat with.
I really liked what I saw, hope you do too!
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Embroidered Table-cloths, Doilies, Napkins, Bed covers and Folk costumes are just one type of many souvenirs your sure to find in Budapest and other Hungarian towns.
Hungary's tradition of embroidery dates back to the Middle Ages when mothers taught their daughters how to embroider. A family's wealth was often measured by the number of embroidered cloths they had. Today, many Hungarian families have heirloom items which they cherish.
I found floral patterns to be quite popular, bright and colourful, a stand out on the white background. This seems to be done on purpose! Other styles contained elements of European Renaissance and Baroque decorative eras, as well as that of Turkish and Persian influences, a bit like many of the buildings in Budapest!
The native Peasants motifs have played an important part in Hungarian embroidery. Both men and women wear embroidered clothing, either when working at home or when going some-where special.
Blouses and Shawls are a couple of wearable pieces that you can find for sale.
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
ART NOUVEAU IN BUDAPEST
If you love Art Nouveau architecture, then you will love Budapest!
In 1896, the Millenium of the settlement of the Hungarians in the area was celebrated, thus giving the green light for large building projects to go ahead. It was around this time that Art Nouveau was beginning to take off as an art and architectural style. This was a creative art form, that included themes and motifs symbolizing Hungary's heritage and culture.
Ödön Lechner was a Hungarian Architect who helped to make Hungarian Art Nouveau distinct from art Nouveau in other cities, by incorporating Indian and Syrian architectural forms into his designs.
As I walked around Budapest streets, with camera at the ready, I found many Art Nouveau buildings, no two the same! I found paintings, sculptures, tiles, patterned roofs and unusual shapes, I never tired of looking at these buildings. Not all the buildings have been restored, some have and look wonderful, but many are in dis-repair. It costs a lot of money to restore one of these buildings, hopefully the future may see some more looking at their best again!
I walked around on my own, but if you want, there are Tours specializing in the Art Nouveau attractions in Budapest. Tours are guided by a leader with plenty of information on Art Nouveau in Budapest.
Still want more?
The Hungarian House of Art Nouveau, or A Magyar Szecesszió Háza, is a museum showcasing Art Nouveau interior design, including furniture, paintings and more.
You can buy Art Nouveau style souvenirs such as jewelry, books, and accessories, or perhaps enjoy a snack in the Art Nouveau style Café.
Getting there: Take Subway (M2) or Streetcar 2 to Kossuth tér
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 10 am to 5 pm
Adult: HUF 1,500
Budapest Card: HUF 1,000
- Museum Visits
- Hiking and Walking
July - Nándorfehérvár Victory Celebration
In 1456 the Christian Hungarian troops defending Nándorfehérvár, led by János Hunyadi, inflicted a crushing defeat on the army of Turkish Sultan Mehmet II after a battle that ensued for more than two weeks, and thereby stopped the continued expansion of the Turks in Europe for some 70 years. The anniversary was celebrated in Budapest this year Sunday (July 22, 2012) when thousands of people present remembered the Hungarian heroes at the siege. There was a flotilla of boats and small warships that commemorated the battle by giving the heroes a salute at the Chain Bridge. It was a very colourful affair as many re-enactors were also present in medieval armour and clothing. Since 2011 on this date it has become a national memorial day in Hungary.
Annually (2012 was the 556th anniversary and took place on Sunday, July 22)
The celebration began at 10:00 am with the Naval salute at 10:30 am
The parade starts at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and ends at the statue of János Hunyadi in the Buda Castle.
- Historical Travel
The 1956 Revolution
It was the fiftieth anniversary of the of 1956 uprising the year I visited Budapest. My visit also coincided with widespread political riots, based on the words of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany leaked admission that he lied in order to get re-elected. The coincidence of the riots and the anniversary were not lost on the protesters, who made every effort to link the two together, playing rousing nationalist songs, staging the protests by the grave of the Imre Nagy, the Prime Minister during the failed uprising, and having men in traditional dress standing around waving giant Hungarian flags with the middle cut out significantly, just like the protest flags of the revolutionaries 50 years earlier.
The 1956 revolution was a proud moment in Hungary's history, but a shameful one in the West's. The Hungarians were successful in overthrowing their undemocratic communist government, and chasing the Soviets out of the city. Lacking any support from the West, however, the Soviets came back with their tanks some weeks later. The revolution was crushed, its leaders were executed, and the Hungarians were forced to endure more than 30 years of communist dictatorship.
Free public toilets in Budapest
While nearly all public toilets (especially in tourist areas) are not free, you can try the following as you need not pay a penny (as at Sep 2013):
1. The MacDonald at "Astoria" Metro Station (Red Line, 2nd stop from Derek Station)
2. The Museum of Fine Arts (besides Heros Square), downstairs as you enter the main entrance (where the souvenir shop is located) [You don't have to buy the admission ticket before going downstairs]
3. The MacDonald at the Derek Square (a long queue always)
The toilets of the above are mostly acceptable and clean. :)
The best beer in Budapest
The best beer in town is sold in a rundown shop way off the beaten track. It is produced by Imre Lehmann and sold only (in plastic bottles!) in his unassuming shop (where they also sell their bakery), located at Aranyhegy út 10 in the district of Óbuda. It is best to be reached by car (or taxi).
The family that runs this business came back from Transylvania and does a great job. However, it seems that it needs some support.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
If you awake on your first morning in Budapest and are craving your usual breakfast of ham and eggs with potatoes (or something similar) be aware that Hungarians do not eat such a breakfast. You will normally find just a roll and some cheese unless your hotel has something different.
Necessity being the mother of invention, I wondered out into the slightly chilly October morning (since my hostel didn't offer breakfast at the time). For the truly committed you might find a McDonalds without too much difficulty. Many of the cafe's really aren't open for early breakfast (tend to open at 10 am).
But don't despair. Just stop into any of the little bakeries. They aren't hard to find, there are plenty all over the place. Let me tell you, the bread they have there is excellent!! The locals will stop in and get a roll and some yogurt or something before heading off.
- Food and Dining
Eat a fruit soup
The cold fruit soup in summer is the most refreshing and surprisingly tasty dish I have ever tasted. It is made of fruits, cherries, berries or strawberries. I warmly recommend it in summer as it is sweet and tasty!
- Food and Dining
Give the local drinks a try!
On top of sampling local dishes, I always try to sample local drinks when I travel to a new country :o) There was no shortage of choice in that field in Budapest: On top of its surprisingly wide selection of local beer, wine and sparkiling wine, Hungary is famous for palinka, which was a little strong for my taste, Unicum, a herbal liquor that tastes a bit like Jägermeister, and tokaji, a really nice dessert wine, which turned out to be my favourite of them all. Cheers - or as they say in Hungary, Fenékig!
- Wine Tasting
Puzzling road sign
Here's a sign I'd never seen before! I'm assuming it indicates when a street isn't for pedestrians, but we did laugh when we first spotted it. Our first guesses were "no children or elderly citizens allowed" or "do not hold yout kid's hand when you cross the street". What's would be your guess?
So you don't speak magyar?
Since Hungarian is almost exclusively spoken in Hungary, no one expects visitors to speak it. English serves as the common language, and is is widely spoken by Hungarians, perhaps more so than in any other European country. Practically all the signs throughout the city are translated into English, as are restaurant menus. Never did we find ourselves in a spot where not speaking Hungarian was a problem, nor were the locals any less friendly because we only spoke English. It's yet another thing that makes Budapest suh a visitor-friendly city!
Hungarian is an amazingly intimidating language. The first time you see something written in Hungarian you will most likely feel like you have not the slightest idea of where to start. Most tourists going somewhere where a different language is spoken try to learn a few simple phrases and words but the task seems far more monumental where Hungarian is concerned. In a few days stay in Budapest you will most likely recognize a few words and phrases. I found it easiest to concentrate on how a word sounded rather than how it was written, that made things a little easier for me.
Most Hungarians that come into contact with foreigners already understand this and most likely will not expect you to know much of their language. To their credit, I found the locals tried very hard to communicate with you and were very willing to help.
Hungarian belongs to the Finno-Ungric family of languages, though really the only languages that are even distantly related to Hungarian are Finnish and Estonian. Because of its location, Hungary is surrounded by Slavic, Romance and Germanic languages, and though it has borrowed from its neighbors, their language is still totally different.
To give you an idea, German has 4 grammatical cases, Russian has 6, Hungarian has 18.
Though communicating with the locals was a greater challenge in Hungary than in neighboring countries I had relatively little trouble finding people that could communicate in English or German. Though the people in some of the museums and tourist sights spoke relatively little English, young people for the most part spoke at least some English. One thing i did that may be helpful to others. At my hostel I asked them to tell me a few of the words I would hear and should know. I wrote down how they sounded and did pretty well that way.
naturally the most essential word is thank you.
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