Monday, September 04, 2017

Central Europe: Day 3 (Budapest / Vienna)

Last day in Budapest! I was so sad to leave, because it was such a great start to the trip. Budapest was way more beautiful, accessible, and tasty than I remember. (Having a job, money, and more refined tastes helps.)

I started off the day with a two-mile run around the city wall. It was my first run in Europe, and I was thrilled. I took it easy and looked at the sights, and I got to see locals on their morning dog walks. Running in a foreign city really makes you feel like you belong! I'll have to make a habit of it.

Then it was another breakfast at the hotel, this time I got the ridiculously huge croque madame and really felt like I earned it.

One of my favorite buildings in Europe is the Hungarian Parliament building. We didn't get a tour, but we did take some photos around the exterior. It was a beautiful morning for photos, especially after the gloomy day previous.

We stopped by Liberty Square, home to the last standing Soviet monument in Budapest, as well as a quizzical statue of Ronald Reagan. I took a photo giving a thumbs down to one of my least favorite presidents. We walked up the street to Szamos Marcipán to enjoy a chocolate tarte and ogle the beautiful marzipan and baked goods.

Down the street in the central Pest area, we visited St. Stephen's Basilica and, of course, climbed the tower...

The building is utterly vast, and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the relics.

Nearby, there was a post office, so we decided to mail some postcards home from each city. (As I write this post, it is mid-October and my grandma still hasn't received one of them - I need to ask her which one!)

The rest of the morning was fairly indulgent. We stopped at Café Gerbeaud, an indulgent cafe in downtown Pest. 

Look at those macarons! We shared an Esterházy Kehely, a decadent confection made of layers of candied walnut / linzer cake / ice cream, and I also had one of the best hot chocolates I've ever enjoyed in my life.

As if that wasn't enough, we walked to the premium chocolatier Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé for some truffles to take on the road. So good!

Down the street from the chocolatier was a university neighborhood that boasted Lumen Kávézó, a bar with a reputation for craft beer. We had our favorite beers in all of Budapest, including a tasty little cherry sour called Meggysör by the brewery Stari Sör (sör being the word for beer in Hungarian - pronounced almost like "sure").

Lumen was also a great outdoor venue, again mostly locals. I really felt like our guide book, Pocket Budapest by Lonely Planet, helped us get off the beaten path, with some tourist stuff thrown in, too.

With that, it was time to leave beloved Budapest and catch our train to Vienna...

I was excited to be going to Vienna because it was the town on our trip where I had spent the longest amount of time and was most familiar, but also I actually speak the language somewhat (as opposed to Hungarian, which is impossible). 

After a nice long train ride spent knitting, we arrived and got to our hotel, Aparthotel Adagio, which is similar to a Residence Inn and offers a more apartment-like feel and amenities. For instance, we'd be able to do laundry before we left Vienna - important because of how lightly we'd packed. But it was still centrally located.

First up was a dinner reservation at Zum Schwarzen Kameel, Vienna's oldest restaurant (founded in 1618). It had a fabulous art deco interior and still seemed to be popular with locals. I love to visit restaurants and breweries with a long history when I'm visiting Europe - we rarely have anything like it in the United States, especially not in Chicago.

We got the Viennese tasting menu, which included ham shank, dumpling soup, goulash, Wiener schnitzel, potato salad, and an apricot crêpe with mascarpone for dessert. Great start to Vienna for us, and another early night to bed!

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