After a short and pleasant train journey from Bratislava to Budapest (wherein I managed to finish off my travelling read, “The Man in the High Castle”, so expect a review of that soon) we arrived at the station at around 16.30 and wasted no time getting to our hotel. Most museums/galleries closed at 18.00, so in a little bit of a rush, we headed straight for the “National Museum” to get our history fix.
With it’s giant pillared entrance, the building is almost intimidating as you walk through the doors, yet the vastness of its structure meant that there were plenty of exhibits to peruse. We paid for our tickets, HUF. 2100 for both us with photo rights for myself, and went upstairs, beginning with a room dedicated to Christian persecution in the Middle East. I was quite ignorant to this issue, but I’ll let the words of Louis Raphaël explain:
“Our problem is that we’re associated with the West. The Muslims think that all their troubles come from there. The West supports Israel, attacks Muslims, and exploits their oil, and develops whilst they lag behind. Since they consider the West to be Christian, its guilt falls on us as well.”
The rest of the museum shows a large deal about Protestant ways of life and how they were influenced by events of the 20th century; a thorough and complete history of Hungary from the 400,000 BC to present; an entire section dedicated to archeology; and other extremely interesting subjects. We’ve been to a lot of museums on our travels, but this one was actually up there with the most enjoyable, I’d recommend it if you have an hour or two to spare, or want to get out of the rain.
We were starving by this point, and after a little research we stumbled upon “Mazel Tov”, an Israel inspired bar/restaurant, and one of the coolest places I’ve ever eaten at. As someone of Jewish heritage, I was actually really excited to taste some proper Middle Eastern cuisine. You enter into a converted warehouse, with fairy lights and hanging bulbs casting a casual light across the central bar, whilst planted herbs, trees, and ivy running down the walls ensure that their emphasis on green and fresh is heard. Oh, and the menu is amazing. I found it so, so hard to decide upon one thing as I could have happily chosen anything and been content; it’s all homemade pitta, houmous, salads, and Middle Eastern meats, A.K.A the best things in life.
I chose the snappy titled ‘Parsley Beef Patties Roasted in Lamb Fat with Special Seasoning and Herbs”, and Jacob got “Schwarma Chicken”; served with matbucha salad, beetroot salad, parsley tahini and a freshly grilled pita, they were both gorgeous. This place is definitely taking a place on the overall ‘best eats’ we do at the end of the trip, and you shouldn’t hesitate to get there. They also do in house lemonades of all sorts of flavours, which are the most refreshing and zingy bottles of goodness you’ll ever try. It’s a very, very cool spot, and we might even return for a drink tomorrow.
After paying the bill (HUF. 12,000 for two meals and four drinks) and finishing with a shot of ‘Palinka’, which is 60% and tears a hole down your oesophagus, we were ready to go out, and went straight to “Szimpla Kert“, a ruin bar with a golden reputation. I’ve never been to anything like it, which according to the Hungarian guys we met was quite a usual reaction; it’s a line of bar after bar after bar under a mass of fairy lights, red bulbs, and hanging plants, with graffiti lined walls and an outside area that looks like its under a multicoloured parachute. Projectors show a constant stream of spinny images and movies on the walls, and the room for the live band is packed and sweaty in the best way possible. This was probably the most relaxing and enjoyable night out I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe how friendly and welcoming it all was, although that might have been the vodka. Oh, and just next door is “Karavan Street Food”, where you can pick up some drunken delights of any variety, be it Hungarian, Japanese, Italian, or another. You will have probably been told to get to Szimpla if you go to Budapest, and for good reason; it’s bloody good fun.
We’re hopefully getting to some public baths and the citadel next, but as the weather looks eager to ruin our plans again, I’ve no idea what we’ll end up doing.