From Prague to Budapest!
My main reason to visit Hungary… wine!! Strange, I know. While they aren’t as well-known as Italy for their wines, they actually have some great ones. I’ve been reading about Hungarian wines in my studies and was excited to try them! We visited Faust Winery (located beneath a Hilton of all places), in an underground cellar to try 6 Hungarian wines from around the region.
Other must see/do in Budapest:
- Thermal baths
- Dohàny Street Synagogue- the 2nd largest synagogue in the world!
- Shoes on Danube River Bank
The weather was bitter cold with a nasty rain drizzle; yet, we were fortunate with good weather the first day, so we walked around the Buda Castle for great views, saw the Chain Bridge from afar, and hung out on Fisherman’s Baston. We took a lot of time visiting all the Christmas markets, and indulging in rose-shaped gelato and all the Hungarian cuisine and street food our stomachs could handle (food and drink pics to follow).
SNAPSHOTS OF BUDAPEST
Outside of the widely know Tokaji, Hungarian wines are hard to find. Guess it won’t surprise you then when I say that we had to go deep underground to get our hands on some of Hungary’s good wine. Located in the vast labyrinth system winding below the Buda Castle, (oddly, whose entrance you find through a Hilton Hotel), lies Faust Winery. A quaint room with only four tables and one host, it was the perfect intimate scenery to relax out of the bustle and learn more in depth about Hungarian wines. Our host would explain each wine (how they were made, stories, and tastes), and showed us on a map where they were found/produced. There were wines from all over Hungary and for a total of 6 to taste it cost about $20 U.S. per person. That’s at least half of what you would pay for a tasting here in Italy! It was such a unique and worthwhile experience. Hungarian wines are much different than Italian or American wines, and like many others, I predict they will be more well-known in the future!
RUDÀS THERMAL BATH
Visiting thermal baths can be a bit tricky when you have a child. Normally children are not allowed into the baths, no matter how well behaved they are or if they can swim or not. The Rudas Thermal Bathhouse was directly out and over a bridge from our hotel, so we took turns waking up early each day and visiting the baths while our kid slept in. There are certain days for men and certain days for women (although there were definitely a mix when we went). I didn’t want to be “that tourist” walking around in an intimate area and taking photos, but I did manage to snap a few when no one was around. The place was beautiful and surprisingly not very many people were around in the early mornings.
The centerpiece of the bath today, the Turkish bath, was built during the 16th century in the period of the Turkish occupation. Below the 10m diameter dome, there is an octagonal pool. The swimming pool, operating as a therapeutic swimming facility and with a sauna, was built in 1896. The thermal bath has been visited from 1936 on exclusively by men. In its drinking hall, the water of the springs Hungária, Attila and Juventus can be consumed for the purposes of a drinking cure.http://en.rudasfurdo.hu/past-and-present
DOHÀNY STREET SYNAGOGUE
The synagogue in Dohány Street was built between 1854 and 1859. The largest synagogue in Hungarian Neolog Judaism, it is also the largest in Europe (the second largest in the world!). It stands on the site of the house where Theodor Herzl, father of modern Zionism, was born. It also includes the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives.
SHOES ON DANUBE RIVER BANK
The walk here was just as somber and drained of color as the actual memorial. Drizzly, gray skies followed us, and the air had a certain bite to it. A bitter feel while observing a bitter piece of history. This memorial contains 60 pairs of 1940’s-style iron shoes that pay tribute to the thousands of Jews murdered by Arrow Cross militiamen in the ’40’s.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!