Demonstrations in Budapest

Are you coming to Budapest in the coming days, or maybe you are here already, and now you are worried after reading and hearing about violent demonstrations in Budapest the last days? So, what is the truth? What is it all about? And will you be in danger as a tourist?

First of all, the demonstrations are against the current Prime Minister and his rule, and first of all because of some new rules that were introduced last Wednesday. On that day, the Parliament voted for the so-called “Slave Law”, raising the number of over-time hours from 250 to 400 possible hours for workers. Some call this a great opportunity to work more and earn more, while most people believe this will be abused by employers to drive their workers even harder.

The second law that was introduced is about a new system for the courts of Hungary, which will be overseen by the Minister of Justice. And if we have learned something about the politics of Hungary, it is that the Minister of Justice is in the hands of the Prime Minister, which again means that only such people will get those jobs that will vote for and do whatever the Prime Minister wants… 

CNN coverage of the demonstrations in Budapest
CNN coverage of the demonstrations in Budapest

Are the demonstrations dangerous for tourists?

The short answer is NO. The longer answer is NO, not at all! If you ever see someone demonstration, you can simply go another way. Or, you can decide to go with them. We have personal knowledge of people attending the demonstrations, and these are peaceful people who long for a change in the nation. There are some “crazy” people attending the demonstrations, but they are not really welcome, and if they turn a garbage can over, the people coming after normally place the garbage can back up in order.

In other words, if you are curious, take a look at what’s going on from a distance, and if you want to support them, walk with them. But, if you feel as if things get heated up, rather leave the area and eat some Goulash soup instead!

The ugly truth about the state of Hungary

We are really in love with the city of Budapest, but it doesn’t mean that we enjoy and appreciate everything that the politicans say and do. And it feels terrible when you hear that people are afraid to say their name to writers and to share their opinions on Facebook. Why? They are afraid of losing their jobs and fear their future. People are threatened to shut up, or they will lose their jobs! If you show up on demonstrations, the chances of being investigated for money matters or other stuff, increases a lot! 

Even more annoying is how the state media is compromised, and thus, the larger part of the Hungarian population do not even know about the demonstrations. The State TV is saying whatever they want, and normally all they say about the demonstrations is that George Soros has financed them, and that those showing up are bullies who only want to destroy and create trouble. There are a few credible and objective sources for information, but those are really few, and thus, the average Hungarian will only see the filtered news served them by the Hungarian government.

In other words, there are plenty of reasons to demonstrate – but as a tourist, you do not have to worry at all about. 

Free Sting and Shaggy concert in Budapest on November 24th

Will you be in Budapest on November 24th? Are you a fan of Sting, Shaggy, or maybe Punnany Massif? If you haven’t ordered your plane tickets to Budapest yet, hurry up! It will be worth it!

The concert with Sting and Shaggy (with Punnany Massif joining in as a warm-up band) will be arranged at the Heroes Square in Budapest on November 24th. It will start at 18.00, and it will be a completely free event. The occasion for the event is the 30-year anniversary of the most popular kind of lotto in Hungary. But, who cares why it is arranged and who is arranging it – this is your chance to listen to Sting, Shaggy and Punnany Massif for free in Budapest on November 24th.

Sting and Shaggy coming to Budapest

And, when you first visit Budapest, make sure to visit the fantastic Christmas markets in town, and since you do not have to spend money on the actual concert – spend your money on a romantic river cruise, a delicious wine dinner, or maybe a rustic brewery visit instead? You can read more about all these and other programs here in our Budapest Guide.

Do not forget to share this article on social media to let all fans of these artists around the world get the chance to listen to them all for free!

Ps: Do not try to approach the concert area with a car. There will be roadblocks everywhere, so park your car far away and approach the area on foot or using public transportation!

Black Friday confusion in Hungary

Black Friday is the second last Friday of November every single year. But for some reason, there is a general confusion about Black Friday in Hungary. This isn’t a new phenomenon in 2018, but it has been so for a couple of years. What is the consequence?

Black Friday in 2018 is officially November 23rd. But, quite a lot of stores in Hungary will run their Black Friday discounts on November 16th. We do not have a full list, and most likely stores, in general, will run the discounts on November 23rd, but quite a lot of online stores will run a Black Friday sale on November 16th.

Black Friday Hungary

Black Friday sale in Hungary – Pixabay

Edigital.hu is a giant store selling all sorts of computer accessories, and lots of other products. They will run their Black Friday campaign fully on November 16th. Another online store that will run Black Friday sale on November 16th is aqua.hu. Now, it might be that they will have a bigger sale on November 23rd (as they only title the November 16 sale a pre-Black Friday sale).

No matter what, if you are looking for products to buy for yourself or as Christmas presents, now is the time to be on the alert and to watch out. You might find great products at lower prices than you normally would. But, you should also be careful, as lots of products are sold with giant “discount tags”, while the truth is that it still costs more than it normally would.

Our recommendation is, therefore, always check the price and compare it with the same product elsewhere online to see if it really is as great an offer and a fantastic discount as they try to present it to you!

Budapest from above – seen from an airplane!

Before arriving to Budapest, or as you leave Budapest, you might be extremely lucky and get a beautiful view of the city. If you sit by the window, make sure to have your camera or your phone ready, just in case.

I just bumped into the following image on Facebook recently, taken by someone just before landing in Budapest. It is an amazing picture, and it is so rich in detail. You can easily see the most important bridges in Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament, the City Park, the Gellert Hill, the Castle area, and so much more.

Budapest seen from the flight!

Budapest, seen from the sky!

Budapest is an amazing city, and if you like the way it looks from above, it will get even more beautiful as you reach the inner city and walk along the Danube in the evening.

Today is the time for the opening of the annual Christmas market in Budapest. During the Christmas season the city gets even more beautiful, especially in the evenings, so you have even more to look forward to then!

The Mongolian Barbecue in Budapest

Trofea Grill is a famous restaurant in Budapest and probably the best all-you-can-eat restaurant in town. But, before Trofea Grill came to be, the Mongolian Barbecue was the original version of the same concept. The Mongolian Barbecue is still around, but is it as good as Trofea Grill?

While there are six different Trofea Grill restaurants in Budapest, there is only one Mongolian Barbecue, and it is located on the Buda side, not far from the Deli Railway station and the Mom Park. It is cheaper than Trofea Grill by 15-20%, making it more attractive for those on a budget. But, is it worth saving money by visiting this restaurant instead?

The interior in the Mongolian Barbecue

The interior in the Mongolian Barbecue

After visiting Trofea Grill several times, the first impression of the Mongolian Barbecue is that it looks a bit more old-fashioned and tired. The interior isn’t as shiny and modern as Trofea Grill. But, who cares about the interior if the food is fantastic?

The food in the Mongolian Barbecue

It is important to know that the name of the restaurant comes because of the Mongolian presence on Hungarian soils decades ago, not because of the food in the restaurant. In other words, this is not a restaurant for those who want to eat Mongolian food!

In the restaurant, you can eat and drink unlimited for a set price. The starters have to be ordered from the waiter (included in the price of course), and it will be served at the table. When you are ready to eat some meat, you have to leave the table and grab whatever you want to eat by yourself. You later hand this over to the chef who prepares it in front of you. There are quite a lot of salads and other side-dishes available, in addition to the meat!

Delicious food in the Mongolian Barbecue

Delicious meat in the Mongolian Barbecue – Source

I have nothing to complain about when it comes to the meat, nor the side-dishes. But, it is impossible to visit this restaurant without comparing it to Trofea Grill. And if I do so, I miss the finished dishes, meaning those dishes already prepared which you can eat without grilling it. But, after all, this is a barbecue restaurant, so it shouldn’t be expected… but again, Trofea Grill is the problem!

The Mongolian Barbecue in Budapest

The Mongolian Barbecue in Budapest – All you can eat!

As you finish eating, you are probably interested in having some dessert. Here you get to pick from the menu again, but unfortunately, the desserts were disappointing to us. There were four to choose from, and neither of them gave us a big “kick”.

An apple cake dessert in the Mongolian Barbecue

An apple cake dessert in the Mongolian Barbecue

All in all about the Mongolian Barbecue

The price level of the restaurant varies between 12-17 Euro per person. Considering the fact that you can eat and drink as much as you want, the price is really nice. But, if you compare it to Trofea Grill, I would rather visit the latter, simply because of the much nicer look on the interior, and most importantly, a much wider selection of starters, main courses, and also desserts.

Have you been to the Mongolian Barbecue in Marvany utca in Budapest? How did you like it?

Christmas market by St. Stephens Basilica 2018

We have known the dates for the Christmas market at Vörösmarty square for a long time, but just recently, the dates for the Christmas market in front for the St. Stephen’s Basilica was published as well.

The Christmas market in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica is getting better and better for every year. In 2017, it didn’t only make the square fantastic, but also Zrinyi utca (the street connecting the Danube and the Chain Bridge with the St. Stephen’s Basilica). It is a fantastic market and every afternoon from 16.30 there will be light shows at the church building every 30 minutes.

The Christmas market will open on November 24th (some places it says November 23rd) and it will remain open until January 1st, 2019. The market is open from 10.00 (or 11.00) until 22.00 in the evening, except for December 24th, on which it will close at 14.00.

christmas market by st stephens basilica

The Christmas market by the St. Stephens Basilica – Source

At the Christmas market, you can find an ice skating rink, a big Christmas tree, and lots of small tree houses where you can buy souvenirs, presents, and lots of hot drinks and traditional food. The ice skating rink is free to use for kids under 14 years, but you need to rent the skates you will actually use on the ice.

This year the Christmas market calls itself an eco-fair. All exhibitors will have to use environmental-friendly packaging, resulting in less garbage and better for the environment.

If you want to read more about the different Christmas markets in Budapest, check this site.

Would you like to enjoy a wine dinner in Budapest during this period, or maybe a river cruise at the Danube River? Make sure to arrange your booking as soon as possible, because it gets crowded and fully booked quite regularly in December!

A nice Budapest panorama

The most popular spot in Budapest for beautiful pictures might be from the citadella at the Gellert Hill. But, if you climb down the hill, you can get some awesome shots as you walk towards the Gellert hotel as well.

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A beautiful panorama shot of the Pest side, taken from the Gellert hill

The picture above was taken a month ago as I walked from the citadella on the hill towards the Gellert hotel. It was a beautiful day with nice a nice temperature and a lot of sunshine. And yes, Budapest is beautiful on such days. A

In the picture, you can see the Liberty Bridge (Szabadsag hid). This is the third oldest bridge between Buda and Pest, and it is very easy to recognize because of its green color. You can read more about this and all the other bridges of Budapest here. If you walk across the bridge, you will get to the Pest side, and here you will find the start of the popular shopping street Vaci utca. You can also find the Business university here (first building on the right as you cross the bridge). More interesting is the building coming after the Business university, that is, the Grand Market Hall. It looks like a train station, but it is much more exciting than a railway station. Read more about the Grand Market Hall and what you can find inside of it here.

In the upper right corner of the picture, you can see the small cupolas of the Gellert hotel (you can find the Gellert bath in the very same building).

The Danube is the river dividing Buda from Pest. The distance between Buda and Pest here is between 400 and 500 meters, making it a wide river, and perfect for river cruises. You can also see some of the boats used for longer river cruises on the Danube river at the picture. These travel between cities like Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. For river cruises inside the city of Budapest, they use much smaller boats.

Do you like the picture? Come to see Budapest for yourself, it is even prettier then!

Egyetem square in Budapest (University square)

Budapest has a lot of hidden treasures, and one of them is the amazing Egyetem square (University square). It can be found between the popular Ferenciek square and Kalvin square, and it is very close to another hidden treasure, the Karolyi garden.

Egyetem tér in Budapest

Egyetem tér in Budapest

The square has been named after the university at the square, the University of Law in Budapest. The University was moved to the location in 1784, and the University of Law has been present here since the start of the 19th century.

The building of the university is really beautiful, and at night it is illuminated, making it even nicer. At the right side of the university (see the picture above), you can see the so-called University Church, also known as the “University Church of St Mary the Virgin.” This is a very special church as it was raised by the only Hungarian Monastic order, the Pauline Fathers (Pálosok). The construction work started at the start of the 18th century, and the first stone of the church was set on the ruins of the destroyed Mosque from the Turkish reign.

By the end of the 18th century, the Pauline Fathers were dissolved by Emperor Joseph II, and the church was given to the university.

The University of Law at Egyetem tér

The University of Law at Egyetem tér

A perfect place for eating

The Egyetem square is a perfect place to grab something to eat. There are many restaurants in the area, and if you want to enjoy a nice wine dinner just next to the square, check this article.

Do not miss out on the square as you walk the streets of Budapest. It for sure deserves a few minutes of your time!

A visit to Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest

A few weeks ago I got to visit the quite newly opened Jamie Oliver Pizzeria in Budapest. I read somewhere that it is the first Jamie Oliver pizzeria in Europe, but I am not completely sure if that is true or not.

I am a big fan of Italian food, and I could eat pizza every day without getting bored of it. But, I am not always a big fan of Italian food in Italian restaurants. Why? It often feels as if I am eating tomatoes, and I miss the spices that makes me satisfied. So, how did I enjoy my stay in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest?

The interior of Jamie Oliver's Pizzeria in Budapest

The interior of Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest

Jamie Oliver’s Pizza in Budapest

The pizzeria is located in the Gozsdu Court, a fantastic area in Budapest with lots of restaurants and lots of things to do. So, the location couldn’t be better. The interior of the restaurant is modern, and as we visited the restaurant we listened to hits from the 90’s quite loudly in the restaurant. The volume was a bit louder than what I would prefer, but at least I enjoyed the music, so that made up for the volume.

We visited the pizzeria during lunch time and arrived very early (meaning there were almost no other guests in the restaurant). The waiters were all extremely friendly, and it felt like they were really proud to work there, and they did their best to satisfy the customers!

We ended up ordering one lunch menu and one lasagne. The lunch menu consisted of a pizzetta (a pizza with a different shape), a salad next to it, and a chocolate souffle for dessert (they didn’t call it chocolate souffle, but it sure tasted and looked like one).

The main courses in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria

The pizzetta was a nice and tasty pizza. I am a big fan of the American style, meaning a thick crust, but I have no problem eating the thin Italian crusty pizzas either. This was totally fine. Not a pizza I would die to eat again, but I had no complaints against it. The tomato sauce was okay, and the rest of the ingredients were nice. But, the best with the entire course was the very nice and fresh salad served next to the pizzetta.

The salad was the highlight of this course...

The salad was the highlight of this course…

I have told myself that eating lasagne in restaurants is dangerous. It never tastes as good as home, but since we visited a Jamie Oliver restaurant, we thought we would give it a try anyway.

lasagne in jamie oliver pizzeria

Yet again, the salad was nice and fresh. But, the lasagne had lots of problems. It was a bit burnt, and it was floating in tomato sauce. It was simply a big tomato overdose, and we didn’t manage to finish it at all. Maybe this is the way a lasagne is supposed to be, but if it is, then I am not a big fan of the real lasagne (only the one we make at home).

The dessert in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria

The dessert was something I would call a chocolate souffle, served with ice cream, and some other snacks. All in all, this was the highlight of the meal. The chocolate souffle was made of real chocolate (dark chocolate), making it a bit more bitter than in most other restaurants where they rather use “cheaper” chocolate, but that caused us no trouble.

dessert in jamie oliver

The highlight of our meal in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest

All in all, we were satisfied with some parts of our lunch experience in Budapest, but it could have been a much better one. The lasagne wasn’t the only problem. As I mentioned earlier, the service was splendid, and everything was fine. But, we hoped this would be a fast lunch, especially considering that the restaurant was almost empty, but instead we spent more than 65 minutes in the restaurant. That is a long time for someone who wants to eat a lunch.  It should then be said that we placed our order at once.

Again, this was a big minus for us that it took so much time to get the food on the table during lunchtime, especially as this might be a place business people would consider a fast lunch between some meetings.

That was our stay in Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest

This was the story of our first visit to the Jamie Oliver Pizzeria in Budapest. This is a very subjective article, based on our experience, and we are no gastro experts, nor nothing. But, we like good food, and that is the foundation of this article.

Have you been to Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Budapest? Did you like it? We would love to hear your comments!

What is the Grand Market Hall in Budapest like?

Budapest is a city with fantastic buildings, and an amazing panorama as you walk along the Danube. But, one of the most fantastic places to walk around is in the Grand Market Hall, at least if you have a kitchen you can use afterward to prepare some royal meals.

The Market Hall is a melting pot in Budapest. Here you can see old ladies with their trolleys, buying whatever they need for the day. Next to them, you will meet a group of 30 Japanese tourists taking photos, while a local chef heads towards his favorite seller for some fresh meat for the daily menus in the restaurant. Here you can find all sorts of people, at all ages, from all around the world.

Last week I had the chance to walk around in the Grand Market Hall in Budapest. It is located in the city center of Budapest, at the very end of the shopping street named Vaci utca. The market hall opens at 6.00 in the morning, to make sure that those eager to prepare lunch before eating their breakfast, can get fresh meat and vegetables before sunrise. But, what can you actually find inside the Grand Market Hall? Join me on this little culinary walk in the Grand Market Hall of Budapest.

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A walk in the Grand Market Hall in Budapest

The first thing that hits you as you enter the building (and look at it from the outside), is that it reminds you of a railway station. Lots of persons actually believe it is a railway station, but end up deeply surprised after actually entering the building. The Grand Market Hall was only one out of five market halls that were built in the capital of Hungary at the end of the 19th century, but this is the most famous and popular of them all.

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The Grand Market Hall has a basement in which you can find a grocery store, a meat store, and some small places where you can buy fish. The locals, however, spend most of their time on the ground floor, while tourists (especially women) walk around on the first floor.

The Ground Floor

At the ground floor, you can find fruits, vegetables, and meat. One of the first things you will see (depending on where you enter), might be lots of Hungarian paprika. At the picture beneath you can see the Hungarian paprika in all sorts of shapes.

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You will often notice that Hungarian food has a red color. It might be a soup, a sauce, or a stew, but the red color normally comes from using the Hungarian paprika. In the market hall, you can buy it as a powder (ideal for use in soups, stews, and sauces). But, you might also buy the real paprika, but that is often used as a decoration, and not so much for actual cooking. One of the coolest things to bring home from the Grand Market Hall is a glass with paprika-stew, named Erös Pista (Strong Stephen). Add a teaspoon of this to your food, and it will give a strong Hungarian taste to your food.

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If you want to have a nice lunch, then you shouldn’t forget about the dessert. But, no need to worry. You can find lots of dessert solutions in the market hall. At the picture above you can see some of the most traditional Hungarian cakes, including the round biscuit covered in chocolate, with jam in the middle, the so-called Ischler.

Would you rather eat some hand-made chocolate for dessert? There are lots of chocolate with all sorts of spices and extras in the Market Hall.

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All sorts of meat

If you are a meat-lover, then you will find all sorts of interesting meat in the market hall. You can, of course, find traditional meat like chicken wings, chicken breast, minced meat, steaks, and so on. But, you will also find more interesting pieces like the ones you can see on the image beneath. There you can see larynx from a pig, cow interiors like lounges, hearts, kidneys, spleen, and other delicious stuff. Besides these, you can also find testicles, tongues, ears, and other culinary exotic objects, so get ready for cooking!

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Would you rather buy some Hungarian sausage, salami, or maybe some liver paste? You can buy such objects as you walk around inside the Market Hall. It might not be as exotic as the meat portrayed above, but it is easier to prepare, and maybe also digest for some of those with a faint heart and scared of eating interior parts of animals.

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Not only meat, luckily!

Hopefully, the vegetarian readers of this blog still read the article, because now comes the part they might prefer. Hungary is a nation of agriculture, meaning that there are fresh vegetables and fruits available throughout the year, at very nice prices.

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Maybe you want to enjoy a fruit salad before continuing your walk? You can easily buy such a salad in the market hall, and you can also find places, where you can buy fresh, pressed orange juice and grapefruit juice if that sounds good.

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Would you like to drink raw juice? There are lots of vegetables ideal for juicing in the market hall. But, you can, of course, buy some beetroot and create a creamy soup with it instead? Or maybe buy a cabbage to create the traditional Hungarian stuffed cabbage?

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There is a lot of fruits available in the market hall, and they are sold at great prices. During harvest season, this is one of the cheapest places in Budapest to buy watermelon, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, peach, apricot, pears, apples, plums, and other juicy fruits. You might not bring with you several kilos of fruits as you leave Budapest, but you should absolutely eat some kilos of fruits while in Budapest! You can also buy dried fruits in the market hall, making it even easier to digest fruits while walking the streets of Budapest throughout the day.

Would you rather buy some fresh seeds, peas? Everything is possible in the market hall!

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We have just been walking around the ground floor of the market hall in Budapest, but there is much more to see (also on this level). But, maybe you have gotten tired and want to take a break and grab something to eat? Let us visit the second floor to see what it has to offer!

The second floor

The most popular place to eat in the Market Hall is in the Fakanal restaurant on the second floor. Here you can eat in a very traditional environment (typical red/white tablecloth), and you are served all sorts of traditional dishes. If you want to taste Hungarian fruit-spirits (Palinka), that is possible as well in this restaurant.

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As I mentioned earlier, the second floor is where most tourists spend their time in the market hall. Do you need to buy some souvenirs that you should bring home to your kids or some other family member? This is the floor in which that can be done.

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Does a typical Russian doll (a matryoshka doll) sound interesting? You can find them with all sorts of motives, making it a possible funny gift to bring with you home. Maybe you want to buy a chess board instead? There are handmade chess-tables waiting for you on the second floor, as well as keyholders and other small objects.

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But, what is it that most ladies prefer to buy in the Grand Market Hall? The number one answer in Budapest is table clothes. These are (mostly) hand-made, and they are either clean white or made with typical Hungarian colors. These are very popular, and a gift many bring home to their elder family members.

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The only problem is that most people fear to use them, as they are afraid to spill on them. For that reason, lots of people have 3-4 similar table clothes in their cupboard at home already, but still, they manage to buy at least one more during a visit the to Market Hall in Budapest.

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I hope you have enjoyed this culinary walk in the Grand Market Hall of Budapest. It is an amazing place everyone should visit, and if you have a kitchen available during your stay in Budapest, it is even better!

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Have you been to the market hall in Budapest? Did you enjoy it? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!