I went to Vienna and Budapest with my best friend from high school (BFF). Having been to Europe before, we both knew a few things: there’s good food, there’s lots of churches, there’s good food, there’s royal palaces, there’s good food, there’s art museums, and there’s GOOOD FOOOD. Also you walk around a lot, which helps, because…there’s GOOOOD FOOOOOD.
Budapest: What Wikipedia Told Me
Let’s skip through the basics of Budapest for those who wanted to know what there is to see:
- Royal Palace
- River & Bridges
- Modern day Parliament
- Large Cathedral/Basilica
- Giant Ferris Wheel
Add a giant clock and you’ve got London, but we’re in Budapest and the exchange rate is in our favor, rather than 1:1.5, it’s 270:1. What does that mean? It means we felt so good withdrawing bills that said 10,000 and 20,000 on them, BFF and I were like:
Custard? Goooood! Meat? Gooood!
I truly appreciated the art and architecture around Budapest, as well as its awareness and pride in its history. Because of this, we paid special attention to history and culture wherever we went, including one of the oldest coffee/dessert shops, Muvesz Kavehaz. We pretty much covered all of the check boxes:
- History? Started in 1898
- Culture? Across the street from the Opera House, anyone who knows me, that’s quite cultured for me to be in that area
- Art? See below
That was just two of the many fine pieces they had. What’s in those cups of deliciousness?
- 2-3 scoops of ice cream
- 1 piece of cake on the right, shot of Bailey’s on the left
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate chunks
- Wafer sticks
I also really enjoy eating with my BFF because she appreciates good food and is willing to go on exoctic food adventures with me, and I end up eating 1/3 to 1/2 of her portion on top of mine, yay! I would say we stopped there, but, the cakes were taunting me, and as I scooped down the remainder of my ice cream, I was already eyeing my next victims. It was an entire art gallery! Cake slides slowly spun and taunted you. The only thing separating you from sweet heavenly bliss was a pane of glass and 750 HUF (it’s ok, it’s less than 3 bucks).
Naturally, any rational person would come back the next day and eat the cakes, and that’s exactly what we did. I’m a sucker for cold, creamy desserts (which you will see come Vienna), and the cake below only helped satisfy that craving while in Hungary. It’s called the Golden Ball cake (I think), I was too preoccupied taking in the creamy custard filling that leaked from its center, and the ice cream-like texture of the cake.
What to do after consuming the little drops of heaven? Anyone following a proper diet knows that one cannot survive off of essentially carbs and fats. So what does a girl gotta do to get some meats around Budapest? Visit any one of the many Halal stands of course! So came to be my midday snack:
Again, we focused on history and culture. We stumbled upon a celebration in a park, after having dessert first at Muvesz Kavehaz, we wanted some good old fashioned Turkish meats. There’s been a large Turkish population historically in Hungary, stemming back to the Ottoman Empire, when the eastern power was at its peak. It made sense then, to see the food stands around the city, a tastier version of what you’d get in the carts in NYC. The gyro wasn’t the only way Budapest helped satisfy my protein need. We were walking around and trying to find a place to sit, drink, and soak in our surroundings within one of the main squares. There were pop up bars and mini food stands everywhere, and I happened upon one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen at that moment:
The stand had pre-marinated, fully cooked chicken, pork, beef, duck, turkey, basically your core protein groups of air and land, just missing some sea but I won’t hold it against them. I had to make a pit stop to grab a sausage as BFF rolled her eyes. And seeing that we had cakes the whole day, I decided to forgo the bun, making “good” eating decisions here, even on vacation, folks. The guy who took my order gave me a weird look, to which I responded with a look that said, “Yes, I ordered meat on stick, and no, it was not a mistake.”
We also bought food just because they looked interesting. Budapest was known for their chimney cakes. The way that they were prepared looked like bbq skewers being roasted in a grill. Bakers would have a variety of flavors, such as chocolate, almond, vanilla, etc. We bought a coconut flavored one, and while the taste was like a normal piece of cake, we had some fun playing with our food:
What did I learn from Budapest? There’s so much good food there that 2-3 days is not enough to take in all that the city has to offer. And, should one ever feel guilty about trying everything, don’t. The city is very fitness friendly, if you are seeking ways to burn off everything you put in your stomach. You don’t need a strict program or a creative workout plan.
Burn it off?
We walked to each landmark in Budapest about twice, once to take day time photos and once more to take nighttime photos. That resulted in hitting just short of 30k steps a day. Numbers do not lie and I’d like to think neither does my Fitbit:
The natural landscape of Budapest helped make working off the cakes and cookies and sausages fairly easy. You could climb roughly 50 floors by visiting Gellert Hill, and get a pretty kickass view of what’s below you:
My absolute favorite was running by the Danube. It contributed to the digestion of that second slice of cake. I normally hate cardio, and really I only do it to eat more. But, when you’re presented with a clean river, low traffic, and fresh air, the only thing really stopping you from running is a rainy day. I took an early start to one of the days we were there, put on my Backstreet Boys playlist, and took off. Nike+ Running rules all in terms of GPS and syncing music to the app when running. Unfortunately, my headphones kept on popping out of my ears (so much for Backstreet’s Back), but given the views around me, I really didn’t care.
A single loop around a section of the river was about 2.6 miles (4.3km). It was tough though, given the hills and stairs. If you notice, the heart rate intensity turns red right at that lovely set of stairs. I could’ve stayed by the river, but then I couldn’t have taken that view of the Parliament from up above, nor could I have gotten that glute workout from the stadium stairs built in the 19th century. We departed for Vienna after my run. The food in Budapest wasn’t planned and boy did it work out in our favor. The food in Vienna though, that I planned, and, spoiler alert, it most certainly worked out well.