Hard Rock Cafe – finally in Budapest

We have written a lot of articles about Hard Rock Cafe in Budapest, and we have received a lot of questions from people curious whether they will find a Hard Rock Cafe in Budapest as they come, or not. Well, the time of waiting is over! Hard Rock Cafe has finally landed and since Wednesday last week visitors have been filling the restaurant ready to grab nice hamburgers and buy traditional Hard Rock Cafe articles.

For pictures from the new Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, visit our Hard Rock Cafe Budapest page.

The restaurant is located in the heart of Budapest, at the Vörösmarty Square, so it should be easy to find for everyone in Budapest, even if you have not clue at all about where things can be found in Budapest. Enjoy, and time to grab a burger!!

Hard Rock Budapest
Hard Rock Cafe in Budapest

New Christmas market in Budapest

As of 2011 a new Christmas market has been opened in Budapest. The new market is located in front of Saint Stephens Basilica, and it looks totally amazing. Not so many people have noticed it yet, but hopefully this is the start of a tradition that will turn more and more popular for every single year passing by. Just take a look at the pictures, and head over to the square as soon as possible 🙂

Some pictures from the new Christmas Market

Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest
Christmas Market in Budapest


Rippl-Rónai temporary exhibition

If you are a fan of József Rippl-Rónai the Hungarian National Gallery has an amazing exhibition currently going. He was inspired by the life in Europe during his lifetime, and József lived in Paris and received a lot of inspiration from that wonderful city. In this exhibition you can see many of his most famous works and this is a great exhibition to get to know more about one of the most famous Hungarian painters of all time.

Rippl-Rónai – Pieces of Art from the Hands of Old Collectors
26 October 2011 – 23 September, 2012
Hungarian National Gallery

Budapest Museums

 

Transylvanian Churches

In this cool exhibition in the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest you can see works made between 1880 and 1920, mostly made by art teachers, showing churches in Transylvania. The official description says: “The works exhibited show important sites of our built heritage, Calvinist, Roman Catholic, Unitarian, Greek Catholic, Orthodox, churches and bell towers from multiethnic and multidenominational Transylvania.” If this sounds interesting, why not check out the exhibition? It is going to be on until March 18th, 2012.

Transylvanian Churches – Prints, Drawings and Photos from the Ethnological Archives
Museum of Ethnography
September 17, 2011 – March 18, 2012

Transylvanian churches

El Greco to Rippl-Rónai

El Greco to Rippl-Rónai
El Greco to Rippl-Rónai

The Museum of Fine Arts has a fine exhibition going currently named: “El Greco to Rippl-Rónai.” This is an exhibition is a tribute to Marcell Jánoshalmi Nemes who was one of the most significant art collectors in early twentieth-century Hungary, as well as one of its most contradictory figures, whose extensive activities as both an art patron and collector became legendary during his own lifetime.

At the exhibition you can see treasured pieces of Nemes’s former El Greco collection, and also wroks from Mihály Munkácsy, Károly Ferenczy, József Rippl-Rónai, Pál Szinyei Merse, Béla Uitz, Károly Kernstok and János Vaszary.

El Greco to Rippl-Rónai
Museums of Fine Arts
October 26, 2011 – February 19, 2012

Budapest museums

11 nice December activities in Budapest

11 December activities in Budapest
11 December activities in Budapest

December can be a very cold month in Budapest and in Hungary, but there are plenty of good and nice programs in this period as well. Check out our list beneath for advices and recommendations.

– Visit the popular Christmas markets in Budapest
– Go ice skating in the City Park
– Enjoy the 5 course Hungarian winedinner in the centre of Budapest
Visit Szentendre for winetasting, shopping, Christmas market and more fun
– Do a daytrip to the Christmas markets in Vienna
– Enjoy a thai massage in Lian Thai Massage
– Visit the Alexandra BookCafe in Andrassy Út
– Check out a performance in the Hungarian State Opera
– Eat a newly baked Chimney cake (kürtöskalács). Eat it while drinking some hot wine.
– Learn how to make Hungarian food at a nice coooking school
– Taste Hungarian beer at our brewery tour

We wish everyone a wonderful December, a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Andre Rieu Budapest

Andre Rieu Budapest
Andre Rieu Budapest

Fantastic news to Andre Rieu fans in Hungary. He is finally coming to Hungary and to Budapest in May 2012. It will for sure be an awesome concert with lots of humour, the way we know it from Andre Rieu, and first of all wonderful music. Andre Rieu is a master of his instrument and wherever he goes large crowds and packed concert venues await him. The same will happen in Budapest as Andre Rieu will play and perform May 5th, the concert itself starting at 20.00 in Papp László Budapest Sportarena. If you would like to be there, order your tickets online as soon as possible for the Andre Rieu concert in Budapest.

Andre Rieu Budapest 2012
May 5th, 2012 – 20.00
Budapest Sportarena

Tickets: WorldTicketShop

Budapest concertsParis concerts

Goulash soup recipe and history

Before you can digest the history of the Goulash soup, start making it yourself. Here comes the recipe for the national food of Hungary!

Goulash soup recipe

Recipe for four persons
Cooking time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:
500-600g shank of beef
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 parsnip
1 small celery
2 middle sized potatoes
4-5 pieces of parsley
3 teaspoons sweet paprika (powder)
3 bay leafs
1 teaspoon caraway grains
1 teaspoons black pepper grains
salt after taste
3 spoons oil
1 small green paprika (not necessary)
1 small tomato (not necessary)
2,5L water
(If you use these ingredients you will be able to make a really tasty and good Goulash soup.)

You should start cutting the carrot, the celery and the potatoes into same size pieces.

Put the onion (cut into small pieces) into a pot together with the oil and let them fry together. As it gets golden brown take the pot of the heating and add the paprika and the meat that has been cut into small pieces.

Goulash soup

After this you should add some of the water and let it steam together for a while. Later add the bay leafs, the caraway, the paprika and the tomato. Add salt and taste continuously (about 1 teaspoon). Let the mixture be boiling for around one-two hours to make sure the meat gets well cooked. As the meat gets almost soft you should add the carrots, the parsnip, the celery and after ten more minutes the potatoes. Together they should be cooked together for ten more minutes.

Taste the soup and if needed, add some more salt. Add some black pepper powder to the top of the soup and also the parsley cut into small pieces.

The Goulash soup should be served together with fresh white bread, and if you like strong stuff, add some strong paprika to the soup or maybe some Erős Pista (hot paprika on glass) to the soup as you are about to eat it.

Bon appetit!

Goulash soup history

The birth of the goulash soup origins in a time when the shepherds spent much time far away from home. Out on the open fields they made the goulash soup in the traditional cauldrons (kettles), or bogrács as we call it in Hungary. Today you can still see these cauldrons as Hungarians cook Goulash soup, fish soup and other traditional Hungarian food both in their gardens and at festivals around in Hungary.

The Goulash Soup is known as the national food of Hungary since the end of the 18th century. It was claimed that the unity of the Hungarians were helped forth by creating a local fashion (Hungarian clothes) and also by making the Goulash soup the national food of Hungary.

In reality the Goulash can not be called a traditional Hungarian course, since the paprika, which gives the special taste to the Goulash soup, only started to spread around in Europe in the 16th century as it was first found in America.

There are several types of Goulash soup available as you visit restaurants in all of Budapest and Hungary, but the best soups are normally the ones you get from a real Hungarian grandmother, giving her heart, soul and lots of ingredients into it.

The following recipe has been given to me by my mother-in-law, so if something goes wrong, she is the one to blame 🙂

Best restaurants in Budapest in 2010

Maybe you ask why someone would write a blog post about the best restaurants in Budapest in 2010 when the current year is 2012, and the month is September, meaning that 2013 is approaching. I will not try to come up with some smart reason, except from the fact that some days ago I found a book in my bookshelf named „Alexandra étteremkalauz 2010.” Alexandra is one of the major bookstores in Hungary with lots of shops around, and every year they write about about the best restaurants of the year. I bought such a book in 2010, but somehow I just placed it in my bookshelf, and never even took the plastic of the book. Now I found it, and I thought it could be interesting just to share some of their thoughts about restaurants in Budapest in 2010. Some of the restaurants said to be the best back then are still going strong, while some of them have faded away since then.

Here comes the list presenting the five best restaurants in Budapest/Hungary then in 2010.

Number 5: Babel Delicate Restaurant

Babel is a delicate restaurant, which back in 2010 was located in the Vaci Utca, shopping street of Budapest, and they were known for interesting food with three styles in focus; Hungarian, International and Vegetarian. Of the traditional Hungarian courses they were all prepared with some new moves to them, making the traditional Fish soup quite different from the way Hungarians normally know it.

Babel closed down in 2011 and has since then written that they would close down their restaurant in Vaci Utca to move into new and better localities at the Marcius 15. tér. We are still waiting for the restaurant to open, who knows if it ever will?

Number 4: Onyx restaurant

Onyx restaurant

Onyx is located at the Vörösmarty square and has since 2010 when the book listed is as the fourth best restaurant in Budapest, turned even better. Thus the restaurant was given one Michelin star back in 2011, and now in 2012 this is the restaurant listed as the number one restaurant in Budapest by most critics, including the Dining Guide, Gault&Millau and quite some others. The chef Tamás Szell has received lots of awards for the way he cooks and runs the kitchen, and if you want to taste the upper class in Hungarian food in a modern and fusion way, visit the Onyx restaurant.

Number 3: Csalogány 26

Csalogány 26 is a restaurant easy to find, because if you know the name of the restaurant, you also know the address. The restaurant has a clean and puritan design, and for lunch time they have good offer, and if you come for dinner you will be able to taste top-class gastronomy. The head chef back then was Balazs Pethő, and he is still controlling the kitchen, making Csalogany 26 still one of the best restaurants in Budapest. The service is efficient, the wine menu is small (but good)and the prices are easy to digest. (these thoughts reflect what the reviewer wrote about the restaurant in the book).

Number 2: Costes

Costes was the first restaurant in Budapest to get a Michelin star, and it is not without reason that was listed as the second best restaurant in Budapest by the reviewers in the restaurant guide from Alexandra in 2010. They wrote back then that „the head chef is Argentinean whose culinary creations have French roots, Hungarian inspirations and exceptional ingredients.” The restaurant changed their chef later, and even though the food has changed a bit since then, the quality is still great and in 2012 this is listed as the best restaurant in Budapest together with Onyx in most serious books about restaurants in Budapest. The name of the chef back then was Nicolas Rafael Delgado, while the present day chef is Miguel Rocha Vieira. The restaurant is a bit more expensive than Onyx, but if you go here you better check out one of their larger menus where you give the chef liberty to help you choose what to eat!

Number 1: Chateau Visz

Chateau Visz

Oh man… this is a mistake. The best restaurant of them all in the book is not at all located in Budapest, but in Visz, 10 kilometers from Balatonlelle, which is 140km from Budapest. Just checking it all again I noticed that the book is about Hungary in general, and even though most restaurants are located in Budapest, the winner of the best restaurant of the year in Hungary in 2012 is located in Visz. This should for sure give you an excuse to go on a day excursion to the Balaton area and then of course make a stop when you come to Chateau Visz.

Back in 2010 the chef of the restaurant was Erik Schröter,. Since then they have a new guy running the kitchen and his name is Klaus Deutschmann. The restaurant is not to big, with space for all in all 50-60 guests at the most – but, the price list is high and for a 3-7 course menu you should prepare on paying something between 15,000-25,000 HUF.

Chateu Visz is a luxury hotel housing one of the best restaurants of the country. The place is elegantly decorated with antique furniture, marble fireplace, crystal chandelier, and a private collection of paintings from 19th-20th century Hungarian artists. Dishes are light and use fresh herbs and local ingredients like lamb, buffalo and catfish.” (quotation from the book)

Sounds good, doesn’t it? So if you are heading of for a day trip to Balaton while in Budapest, do not miss out on a visit to the Chateau Visz if you want to taste some of the best gastronomy available in all of Hungary.

We will come back with some more articles later with lists presenting the best restaurants in Budapest (and Hungary) in 2012, but until then, you will probably find some good suggestions for a nice dinner reading the list made back in 2010. Good appetite!

An introduction to Hungarian politics

To write an introduction to Hungarian politics is a very dangerous task, and a very hard task. In some nations politics might be a nice subject to speak about during dinners and in a coffee break at work. In Hungary politics is a dangerous subject which can turn friends, colleagues and lovers against one another. It can also make friends out of enemies if you suddenly find out that your enemy shares your thoughts on Hungarian politics. Still, I will try to give an introduction to the politics in Hungary in this article. The goal is not to influence people in any way, neither is this article meant to be read by Hungarians, but the goal is to help people from outside Hungary to get some more insight in the political life of Hungary, in a simple and short way (if that is possible).

I could go far back in history, but I will start it all on May 1st, 2004. That is the date when Hungary became a member of the European Union, together with nine other nations. In those days Hungary was predicted to become a successful EU nation within few years, and they spoke about getting the Euro already in 2008. That did not succeed, and the Euro has still not come to Hungary. What is the background?

hungarian parliament

Divided between left and right

Some people have suggested that Hungary would need leaders who are specialists in their field (economy etc…) to set the direction for the country. In other words, professional leaders not influenced by the politics of the Hungarian right or left side. The problem is that politics in Hungary is something you get served on a daily basis from your birth through television, newspapers, teacher and radio. Your parents, your teachers, your neighbor… everyone shares their opinion about politics, and therefore you will it very hard to stand objective if you have lived in the country for a while. You will find yourself under the influence of either the left or the right side. Therefor an objective person in Hungary is hard to find, very hard!

Once I spoke to a Hungarian who said he listened to two different radio channels one morning, and even though both channels spoke of the same matter, they said something completely different. It almost felt as if they were speaking about two different nations. Against this proves the fact that you will find yourself under the influence of what you listen to. In Hungary you can divide the political world to a left side (LMP, MSZP, DK) and to a right side (Fidesz, Jobbik). Here comes one of the first problems. If you read the newspapers and blogs related to the political left side of Hungary you will hear that Jobbik and Fidesz are quite good friends, and that the Hungarian Prime Minister is not at all separating himself enough from the radical extreme party named Jobbik. If you read the newspapers and blog related to the right side you will see that they often write of Jobbik and Fidesz as two total opposites, far away from one another. It is for sure true that Jobbik is a quite extreme and radical right side party, but related and friends of Fidesz or not… it depends on who you talk to!

The economical crisis in Hungary

In 2008 and since then the nation of Hungary has had large problems. Not only the individuals living in the nation, but also on a national scale Hungary has needed to make large adjustments. But who’s fault is this? Read and speak with the people from the left side, and they will blame the right side. They will claim that the country had large problems after the right sided rule between 1998 and 2002, and thus it was a giant work to get things in order. As they started getting things in order and to get the economy back on track, the right side still made things impossible. As the left side wanted to make reforms to get more money to hospitals, education and so on (making people pay small amounts of money to visit their doctors, lay in hospital, study in university), the right side gathered signatures and a voting was on the verge. The voting was the most stupid I have ever heard about in history. It had three questions: Do you want to pay to go to the doctor? Do you want to pay to lie in hospital? Do you want to pay to study? None has ever wanted to pay for anything in history, and thus with a giant win all three reforms were turned down. The left side sais that in this way it was impossible to do anything in the country, and the right side led by Viktor Orban were the ones to be blamed. If you read the newspapers, blogs and TV channels led by right sided people, the story will sound totally different. The communist ideal of everything included once you pay your taxes could be heard often, and also that they did not want the people to pay for the stupid ideas of the leaders back then.

Revolution in 2006

In 2006 the Hungarians celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the revolution in 1956, where the Hungarians stood up against the communists. Another revolution was also on the rise in the autumn of 2006, the new Hungarian revolution. A recording of a speech made by Ferenc Gyurcsany at a private political meeting, the prime minister in Hungary at that time, was leaked to the press and it had some interesting words and sentences in it. He spoke of how they had lied to the people of Hungary, and how they had not done anything at all (his party had then been leading the nation for the last four years, and had recently won the right to rule for four more years). Not only did he say this, but he cursed and used some really bad words…The people heard the recording and at once they demanded that he should step back from his post as Prime Minister of Hungary. He did not, and this lead to lots of demonstrations, which again lead to riots in the city on October 23rd in 2006 and the days after.

After this event the popularity of the left side sank to the bottom, and during the election of local politicians in the same year, the right side led by Fidesz won in almost all cities and regions of Hungary.

What to think about this?
Both sides reacted to the speech of Ferenc Gyurcsany that was leaked to the press, and the right side claimed that he finally said what is true; the left side did nothing and they lied to the people of Hungary. The left side claimed that what the Prime Minister spoke about was that none ever did anything in Hungary since the fall of communism, and enough was enough. It was time for politicians to stop lying and to start making changes in the country. After this scandal the right side constantly left the Hungarian Parliament during the discussions inside; why listen to a left side and a Prime Minister that is lying? Therefore it was always only a half full Parliament during discussions following this event.

Political situation in present day Hungary

Since 2010 lots of things have changed in Hungary. During the election back then Fidesz led by Viktor Orban won and alone they got 2/3 of all representatives in the Hungarian Parliament. Thus the party can do whatever they want, since 2/3 can do anything, even change, add and remove the laws in the constitution. The other parties are all represented in the Parliament, but they can not really make any difference, as Fidesz alone can control everything. On the left side you can hear radio and TV say that Hungary is the only democratic nation ever to vote for dictatorship to return. On the right side in the political world you can hear about how Fidesz now try to make up for the eight years of destruction made by the left side between 2002-2010, and how the only way to get Hungary out of the financial crisis and the present day troubles was to give one party all power in the nation. In that way they can do all the necessary changes without any one else destroying and interrupting (like the left side claim the right side did some years earlier). Again, it all depends on what newspapers you read, who you speak with and what TV channel you watch.

The current rulers of the country (Fidesz) have changed quite some laws and added and changed things in the constitution since 2010. One important change is that if anyone would like to make changes to the constitution, they will need 2/3 of all votes in the Parliament during one reign (4 year period), and then the law needs to be accepted during the next 4 year period by 2/3 of the Parliament. This is of course only valid for changes happening later, and the changes they have currently made does not need to be accepted by anyone else during the next reign, they are written in stone! They have also made changes to laws about the rights of the employees and the employers, about how the elections in the country are going to be, about the age of judges and lots of other stuff. Maybe these laws are helping Hungary back on track, or maybe it is leading Hungary back into dictatorship? Who knows, but time will show.

In the start of the article I said that my goal was to simply give some insight into the present day political situation in Hungary. I realize that it is an impossible task to do so, but I still hope that if you have managed to read through this entire article, that you have gotten some insight into the situation, and maybe some more understanding of what is going on in the beautiful country of Hungary. If you agree, disagree, have questions or whatever, feel free to write in the comment field.