Category Archives: Hungary

Things to do in Hungary and attractions in Hungary.

Review of Trofea Grill Buffet Restaurant in Budapest

Our sons were handed a flyer advertising the Trofea Grill Buffet restaurant when they were out and about in Budapest. We decided to give it a try as it sounded good value for 5,500 HUF (around £15)  per adult including umlimited wine, beer, soft drinks and coffee, on weekday evenings.

We were served with drinks soon after sitting at the table. However, it took ages for the next round of drinks and a coffee to appear.

I decided to start with something different, a cold Fruit Soup, which was refreshing.

trofea grill fruit soup

Fruit Soup

I enjoyed the asparagus and brocolli starters.

trofea grill starters

Starters at the Trofea Grill Buffet restaurant

I wasn’t quite sure what everything was, but at a buffet you can try a small piece to see if it’s to your taste.

trofea grill1

Vegetable selection at Trofea Grill Buffet restaurant

Meat and fish were cooked to order at the Grill. You had to go up to the counter to make your selection. You were given a number and asked to return in a few minutes to pick up your food.

trofea grill selection

Selection from the Grill

My husband had Venison steak a la Burgundy from the hot buffet table, which he said was lean and tasty.

The desserts were yummy, especially the Fruit Tarts.

trofea grill desserts

Dessert selection at Trofea Grill Buffet restaurant

If you eat at lunchtime i.e. between 12.00 – 17.00 , it costs 3900 HUF (around £10.50).

I’d recommend the Trofea Grill Buffet restaurant, there’s an extensive choice of high quality food at an extremely reasonable price.

 

Review of Trofea Grill Buffet Restaurant BudapestKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

Photo Tour of the Palace of Art in Budapest

I visited the Palace of Art comtemporary art museum in Budapest in April 2014. Admission cost 1900 HUF (approx £5). The Palace of Art is located in Heroes Square at the City Park, at the end of Andrassy Ave. We stayed at the Mamaison Andrassy Avenue, it took me around ten minutes to walk to the Palace of Art.

palace of arts entrance

The foyer was so beautiful.

palace of arts cloakroom

The first exhibition of the colourful wire sculptures by Judit Raboczky, several in acrobatic poses, was the most striking for me.

palace of arts handstand sculpture

palace of arts sculptures

I liked Gabbor Koos’ large black and white pieces.

palace of art large board

palace of arts metro carriage

palace of arts rail tracks

For me, the funniest installation was the kitschy three golden bear band, two playing guitars and tghe third banging a drum.

palace of arts teddy bear band

‘Fun Fair’ by Borbe¡la Blaho featured rotating hobby horses reflected onto a screen depicting a leafy park.

palace of art hobby horses

I recognised the column with the archangel Gabriel atop from Heroes’ Square.

palace of arts gabriel column

The sculpture below was constructed of recycled materials.

palace of arts recycled sculpture

I loved the colours in the photo of the red haired boy in the water, part of the ‘Sea Series’ by Zsoia Palyi.

palace of arts boy swimmer

I couldn’t make out what type of liquid was dripping from Janos Bruckner’s face in his selfie.

palace of arts dripping face

The  face of the military man by Istvan Felsmann had been distorted with what looked like pieces of lego bricks.

palace of arts military man

The young man, portrayed in the painting by Akos Szabo, looks far too serious to be wearing a hat with furry ears.

palace of arts hat with ears

Marcell Nemeth’s relief sculpture of a pylon on steel was eye-catching.

palace of arts pylon

The arched windows in the Palace of Art were beautiful.

palace of arts window

The  predominatly yellow oil on canvas piece by Jozsef Csato looked like human bodies with animal heads.

palace of arts oil on canvas

‘Szalon ’78’ was a collection by Janos Borsos.

palace or arts red backgroud

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my photo tour of the Palace of Arts in Budapest.

I’d like to return to Budapest as we only had two days in the city and there was heavy rain during one of these days. I’d choose accommodation closer to the River Danube, so that I could see more of Buda (on the western bank of the river) as most of my time was spend in Pest (on the eastern bank of the river).

I had a look at self-catering apartments in Budapest which could work out cheaper than a hotel and give us more flexiblity. I spotted a beautiful two bedroom/two bathroom apartment close to Chain Bridge which cost 80 Euro a night for four guests in low season

 

Review of Kantin Restaurant in Budapest

We had dinner at the Kantin restaurant, 44 Andrassy Place (close to Ockogon), in April 2014. The three course set menu cost 2500 HUF (around £7). You can only pay in cash. We sat outside as it was a pleasant evening.

kantin restaurant budapest our sons

Our sons at Kantin

Both our sons started with Goulash Soup, which they said was good.

kantin restaurant budapest goulash soup

Goulash Soup

My husband chose three starters from a choice of six; his cheese twist was dried up. I had the Easter Ham Platter.

kantin restaurant budapest easter ham plate

Easter Ham Platter at Kantin Budapest

Our son Gary had Beef Stew, which was served with barley. He said that the meat was tender and lean. I was happy with my choice of Paprika Chicken, the sauce was tasty and the accompanying pasta made it filling.

kantin restaurant budapest paprika chicken

Paprika Chicken at Kantin Budapest

Whereas, my husband’s Duck Breast was served with a salad, so we had to ask for more bread.

kantin restaurant budapest duck breast

Duck Breast at Kantin Budapest

Our son Simon’s Chicken Breast was served with a salad, but he wasn’t keen on the dressing.

kantin restaurant budapest grilled chicken

Grilled Chicken at Kantin Budapest

My husband had the Cottage Cheese Dumplings for dessert. I tried them and wished I’d gone for them instead of the Carrot Cake.

kantin restaurant budapest cottage cheese dumping dessert-

Cottage Cheese Dumplings at Kantin Budapest

I thought that £7 a head for a three course meal was very good value for money for the central location. If you have a big appetite, choose a main course which has a carbohydrate accompaniment.

Review of Kantin restaurant BudapestKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

A Stroll Along Andrassy Avenue in Budapest

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It was originally two cities, Buda on the western bank of the River Danube and Pest on the eastern bank, which were united in 1873.  The main visitor attractions are Buda Castle, the Gellert and Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Chain Bridge and Heroes’ Square. A great way to see the city is to take a river cruise.

Budapest surpassed my expectations. It was much grander and greener than I’d anticipated. I thought that prices were very reasonable, I paid £70 for a double room, including breakfast, in a four star hotel. It cost £15 for a very good quality evening buffet including drinks.

mamaison andrassy budapest view from balcony

There’s a good selection of flights to Budapest from the UK. You can book low-cost flights within Europe with Flybe and they have flights to Budapest departing from several UK airports.. Our flight from Edinburgh to Budapest took around three hours. I pre booked a taxi in Budapest from the airport to my hotel, which cost 30 Euro for four passengers.

When we visited Budapest in late April, the weather was pretty mixed, with warm sunshine and heavy showers. If you’re thinking of visiting  Budapest can get pretty cold in winter and very hot in summer.

When visiting Budapest, I recommend a walk along Andrassy Avenue. Construction of this grand avenue, which stretches from the Elizabeth Square to Heroes’ Square, began in the 1870s. In 2002, it gained status as a World Heritage Site.

We stayed in Andrassy Ave, a grand boulevard, which is home to many of the foreign embassies and museums. It’s a good location for visitors as it’s close to Szechenyi Bath, the City Park and the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts in Heroes’ Square.

In my photo tour, I’ll focus on the section of Andrassy Ave from Oktogon to Heroes Square. We stayed at the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel along this route, so I walked this stretch several times.

There was a piano style bench advertising the nearby Liszt (a 19th century Hungarian composer and pianist) Memorial Museum.

andrassy ave lisxt bench

Piano bench in Andrassy Ave

You can pick up a hire bicycle at many points throughout Budapest. The bikes looked very new and of good quality.

andrassy ave bicycle hire

Bicycle hire point in Andrassy Ave

I was fascinated by the photos of various cosmonauts.

andrassy ave cosmonaut poster

Cosmonaut poster in Andrassy Ave

Kodaly Korond, a circular open space, named after Zoltan Korond a 20th century composer who lived here, is home to four sculptures of Hungarian heroes.

andrassy ave sculpture

Sculpture of Nikola Zrinski (who fought against the Ottoman Occupation) in Kodaly Korond

The beautiful murals on the building below have become rather faded.

andrassy ave painted building

Murals on building in Andrassy Ave

There are several museums on Andrassy Avenue, including the Ferenc Hopp East-Asian Art Museum.

andrassy ave Ferenc Hopp East-Asian Art Museum

Ferenc Hopp East-Asian Art Museum

I was able to access the garden at the back of the museum without paying the admission fee.

andrassy ave Arch in garden of Ferenc Hopp East-Asian Art Museum

Arch in garden of Ferenc Hopp East-Asian Art Museum

A little closer to Heroes Square is the Zelnik Istvan Southeastern Asia Gold Museum.

andrassy ave Zelnik Istvan Southeastern Asia Gold Museum

Zelnik Istvan Southeastern Asia Gold Museum

The Soveny Aladar Teahouse is located at the back of the museum.

andrassy ave soveny aladar teahouse

Poster for Soveny Aladar Teachouse

The teahouse garden is very pretty.

andrassy ave Tea garden at Zelnik Istvan Southeastern Asia Gold Museum

Soveny Aladar Teahouse garden

There’s even a waterfall close to the outdoor seating at the Soveny Aladar Teahouse.

andrassy ave soveny aladar teahouse waterfall

Waterfall in Soveny Aladar Teahouse garden

Heroes Square lies at the City Park end of Andrassy Ave. The Millennium Monument was constructed for the 1000th anniversary of the Hungarian state.

heroes sq ventura effect

A sculpture of the archangel Gabriel stands at the top of the 30 metre high Millennium Column.

heroes sq column

The Millennium Column in Heroes Sq

heroes sq sculptures

Sculptures of Magyar chieftains at the base of the Millenium Column in Heroes Sq

I’d intended to visit the Museum of Fine Art, which is usually closed on Mondays. However, it was shut on the Tuesday, as It had been open on Easter Monday.

heroes sq museum of fine art

Museum of Fine Arts in Heroes Sq

Fortunately, the Palace of Arts at the opposite side of Heroes Square was open that day.

palace of arts exterior

Palace of Arts Budapest

If you’re in Budapest, take a stroll up Andrassy Ave.

If you’re visiting the city over the Summer, there are some great festivals you should try to attend.

Budapest Pride: 27 June – July 6 2014 – A programme of cultural events and parties aimed at the gay,lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities culminates in the Pride March on 5 July 2014

Sziget Music Festival: 11- 18 August 2014 – This festival is held on Old Buda Island in the River Danube. Appearing this year are Blink-182, Cee Loo Green and Jimmy Eat World.

Festival of Folk Arts; 16 -20 August 2014 – This year the focus is on metalcrafts such as coppersmiths and bell foundry. You can try your hard at traditional crafts such as wood carving and making pottery at the workshops.

Budapest International Wine Festival: 10 -14 September 2014 – You can sample local wines on Buda Hill. The highlight of the festival is the Harvest Procession on 14 September 2014.

Buying Hungrian Train Tickets Online

On our twin centre city break to Budapest and Prague with our sons, we decided to travel by train between two cities. I did an online search for tickets. Some third party sites which appeared in the result where charging more than 80 Euro for a ticket.

However on the Hungarian Rail website I was able to purchase ‘Spa Day’ tickets for only 19 Euro per person (approx £16 UK Pounds). The ‘Spa Day’ tickets have to be purchased at least three days in advance of your journey. They are available from twelve weeks before your date of departure.

There’s a guide on how to buy tickets on the Hungarian rail website, the process is rather clunky. Prices are given in Euro, but you pay in Hungarian Forint. I used my Halifax Clarity Card, which has no overseas transaction charges for purchases.

I was slightly nervous as you couldn’t print the tickets at home. The purchase confirmation email instructed me  to go to a blue e-ticket machine at a Hungarian railway station and enter my reference number to get the tickets printed.

budapest keleti railway station entrance

Main entrance to Budapest Keleti Rail Station

I decided to go and pick up the tickets at Budapest Keleti Station, our depature point, on our first day in the city. This also enabled us to find the best route for walking to the station for our departure a couple of days later.

We entered the station by a side entrance, so it took a while to find the blue e-ticket machine. However, if you use the main entrance to the station the machine is located to your right, just after entering the station, close to the information office.

budapest keleti station eticket machine

E-ticket machine at Budapest Keleti Station

The machine printed out one ticket for the four of us, plus a receipt.

rail ticket

‘Spa Day’ tickets from Budapest to Prague

Fortunately, everything went smoothly with the ticket pick up, but I’d have been a lot happer if I could’ve printed the ‘Spa Day’ rail tickets for our journey from Budapest to Prague at home.

Review of Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest

We stayed at the four star Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest in April 2014, booked through Onhotels. I paid £417 for three nights, including breakfast, for a double room for my husband and me, and a twin room for our sons. That worked out at just under £70 a night per room.

I contacted the hotel by email prior to arrival to arrange for a taxi pick up at Budapest Airport (at a price of 30 Euro). My query was answered within a few minutes. The taxi driver was waiting for us upon arrival.

mamaison andrassy budapest exterior

Exterior of Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest

The hotel is just off Andrassy Avenue, a grand boulevard leading to Heroes’ Square. It takes around five minutes to walk up to Heroes’ Square, where the Palace of Arts and the Museum of Fine Art are located. A further five minute walk from the square takes you to the Szechenyi Bath thermal spa in City Park.

Upon check in we were upgraded from standard to deluxe rooms. Our room was a good size with two armchairs and a chair at the desk area. The king size bed, which was one bed versus two single beds pushed together, was very comfortable. There were two individual duvets.

mamaison andrassy budapest deluxe double room

Deluxe double room at Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest

The balcony was spacious, with a small table and two chairs. We spent quite a bit of time out there.

mamaison andrassy budapest view from balcony

View from our balcony at Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest

There was free WiFi throughout the hotel, the signal was excellent in our room. I was able to upload photos and videos quickly. I’ve wasted so much time with dodgy hotel WiFi.

There was a coffee pod machine but it was part of the mini bar, meaning you had to pay per cup. Fair enough, but I prefer the UK hotel practice of providing a free of charge kettle to make a cup of tea or instant coffee.

The bath was up a tiled step, which I thought was a trip hazard when stepping down with wet feet. There was only one small bottle of shampoo and one of bath gel, which wasn’t enough for the two of us. I thought that the bath towels were pretty thin and not appropriate for the standard of room.

The breakfast buffet was very good. There was plenty of fresh fruit and real fruit Juice; far too many hotels are serving squash as fruit juice.

andrassy mamaison budapest breakfast fruit

Breakfast buffet at the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest

There was a selection of hot cooked items, bread and pastries. I’d never seen Cherry Marble Cake before, but it was yummy.

mamaison andrassy budapest breakfast cherry marble cake

Cherry Marble Cake at the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest breakfast buffet

In summary, I thought that the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest offered excellent value for money for a quality room and breakfast in a beautiful location. The staff were all extremely professional, courteous and helpful. The hotel could improve their rooms by providing fluffier bath towels, more toiletries and a kettle.

Click here to check availability and prices at the Mamaison Andrassy Hotel Budapest.

Review of Mamaison Andrassy BudapestKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

10 Things to Do in Budapest

Budapest, in Hungary, is one of my favourite eastern European cities and it’s a great mix of culture and history, as well as being full of friendly people. This compilation offers travel tips for what to do in Budapest.

Visit a Hungarian Bath

Thermal baths are easy to find across Hungary, and especially in Budapest. Locals frequent them for health and relaxation and you may have seen some of the oft-used tourist brochure pictures of people relaxing in a thermal bath and playing chess at the same time! Two excellent baths in Budapest are the Gellert Baths (part of the Gellert Hotel complex) and the Szechenyi Baths. Set aside at least half a day to visit one of these.

what to do Budapest

Szechenyi Bath by Jeremy Branham

Cruise the Danube

The mighty Danube River runs through many beautiful cities of Europe, and the views of Budapest – both the Buda and Pest sides of the river – are fantastic from a boat, with many historical highlights to see. You can also make a stopover at the very green Margaret Island from most cruises.

what to do Budapest

Danube in Budapest by michael clarke stuff

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25 Things To Do in Hungary

Hungary is one of those particularly unique countries in Europe – despite being landlocked and sharing borders with seven other countries, it’s developed and maintained a quite distinct language and culture. Hungarian is well-known to be one of the most difficult languages in Europe, but fortunately plenty of Hungarians speak a little English and you don’t need to learn the language to enjoy a trip there. I found it a particularly welcoming country with friendly, helpful locals, and would love to go back there again in the future.If you’re considering a trip, here are our travel tips for what to do in Hungary

Admire Lake Balaton

When I lived in Slovakia, many of my local friends told me I should take a trip to Lake Balaton, one of their most popular holiday destinations. Lake Balaton is the biggest lake in Central Europe and there are numerous villages on its edges catering to tourists – tiny Tihany with its lovely Benedictine Abbey was one of my favourites.

Lake Balaton on a stormy day by Amanda Kendle

Enjoy History in Pécs

Down towards the Croatian border, the town of Pecs is a popular destination in Hungary for its cultural and historical sites – it was even elected one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture for 2010.

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Gulag labor camps and the Recsk Memorial, Hungary

Hungary has one of the most unique histories of all the former European Communist countries. Ancestors of the Magyars, Hungary has a distinct culture and people that is unlike any in Europe. While many people come to see the sights and explore the culture in Budapest, Recsk offers a local connection to the culture, wine tasting, and countryside views.

While the small village of Recsk offers beautiful views of the Hungarian countryside and a look at its wine country region, many people visit the memorial to its harsh communist past – Gulag Labor camps.

From 1950 – 1953, Joseph Stalin operated one of the most inhumane gulag camps in the area.  Recsk was a perfect place for one of these labor camps as it was isolated and hidden and had harsh winters.  Under Soviet rule, these Gulag forced labor camps were the Communist version of concentration camps under Germany.  However, Gulags were implemented long before the arrival of Nazi concentration camps.

These camps served as the penal system for Communist opponents and petty criminals.  Being late for work, theft, and anti-Communist rhetoric or propaganda could lead you to being enslaved in a Gulag.  Conditions of these camps were very harsh with long work days, extreme manual labor, little food, and many deaths.

While there were a number of Gulags located throughout the Soviet regime, one of the worst in the Eastern bloc was located in Recsk.  During the winter, the area was bitterly cold as people were forced to work long hours under poor conditions with barely enough food for each day.

The Recsk Memorial was dedicated to those who died in the labor camp and visitors can tour the grounds to see the barracks they stayed in, the places which people were forced to work, their harsh way of life, and a museum detailing the history and life of people at the Gulag.  On the way out of the museum, a memorial stands to honor the memory of those who died and suffered here where visitors pay their respects and ponder the tragedies and suffering of life at the camp.  This memorial in Recsk is there to remind and educate people of this tragic part of history under Stalin.

While Hungary offers unique attractions, a distinct culture, and a fascinating history, the Recsk memorial reminds people of the dark days of Communism and the lives that were lost.

Wine tasting in Recsk, Hungary

When you visit Hungary, you experience one of the most unique cultures and history in all of Europe.  Budapest is a very underrated capital with the towns of Buda and Pest separated by the Danube river (one of the many experiences worth checking out is the Szechenyi Baths).  In visiting Hungary, I gained a greater appreciation for its people and the beauty of its country.

While many people only visit Budapest, beyond the city limits is a beautiful countryside known for its wines.  One of these towns worth exploring is the town of Recsk.

Recsk is a village just beyond the town of Eger known for its mining of gold, silver, and other metals.  It’s located in the hills of the countryside and has a beautiful view.  The village isn’t very big and only has about 3,000 people.   While Eger is known for its famous Bulls Blood wine, Recsk enjoys its location in wine country as well.  While the village is small, it has a great school for kids and offers a nice view of life away from the bigger cities and towns of Hungary.

Recsk actually has a dark and somber side to its history which will be the focus of next week’s post.  However, a visit to Recsk wouldn’t be complete without an entertaining visit to a winery.

The Kohari Pince is a beautiful winery located on the hillsides of Recsk offering wine tastings and entertainment.  Upon my visit to this winery, the owners of the winery offered bread and a sample of the numerous wines from the area.  The wines in the area featured a number of different grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and others.  The amount of wine served at the Kohari Pince is very generous so keep that in mind if you are driving.

The wine tasting is just a part of the experience here at Kohari Pince as the views looking out over the Hungarian countryside are spectacular.  However, entertainment was also on the menu as we enjoyed the beautiful music of a Roma (gypsy) violinist.  As the wine flowed, people were encouraged to dance to the music and I had the pleasure of dancing with one of our hosts.

The wine tasting ended with lots of wine and dancing on our visit to Recsk.  For such a small town, it has a lot to offer into the cultural aspects of Hungary as well as great views of its countryside.  While enjoying a wine tasting in Recsk is a fun experience, there is more to explore in this area with a tragic piece of Hungarian history.