Sziasztok, City Lovers!
The city that stole our heart today is Budapest, Hungary, shared with us by Carolyn Bánfalvi, a travel writer and award-winning culinary guidebook author (Food Wine Budapest and The Food and Wine Lover’s Guide to Hungary are her titles), who writes about the city at Chew.hu, a Hungarian food blog. And remarkably, when she’s not doing all that, she’s giving culinary tours of the city with her husband.
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Budapest is My City
When I crave Chinese food I always go Wang Mester Konyhája.
To escape the summer heat I head to Margit Island to swim or picnic in the shade.
If I want to find hidden treasure I go to the Ecseri flea market and browse the antiques/junk/kitsch.
For complete quiet, I can hide away at the beautiful Ervin Szabó Public Library in the eighth district.
Bortársaság is my one-stop shop for great wine.
Locals know to skip the touristy Váci utca shopping street and check the monthly WAMP market (which features local designers) instead.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go for lunch at an étkezde (Hungarian diner).
For a huge splurge I go Bock Bisztró.
Photo ops in my city include the Danube panorama and the best vantage points are from up high, like Castle Hill or the Citadel.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Elizabeth Taylor .
The most random thing about my city is that the mummified hand of Saint István (an important relic of Hungarian Christianity) is paraded around the basilica every year on August 20th to celebrate his feast day, a national holiday.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves hiking, swimming, or kayaking.
My city’s best museum is The Museum of Fine Arts at Heroes Square.
My favorite jogging/walking route is around Margit Island.
For a night of folk dancing, go to Fonó. Or, for live music, check out A38 or Gödör.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Time Out, Funzine, or www.caboodle.hu.
You can tell a lot about my city from hanging out at the food markets.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they scowl at you on the street, but then open up when you attempt to talk to them in Hungarian.
In the spring you should stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at the market.
In the fall you should take the chairlift (libego) up and explore the Buda hills.
In the winter you should soak in the hot outdoor pool at the Szécheny thermal bath house, preferably when the snow is falling.
A hidden gem in my city is the Kerepesi cemetery.
For a great breakfast joint try the strudel, still warm from the over, at the Central Market (along with a strong presszó coffee) .
Don’t miss the wine festival in the Castle in September.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Just outside my city, you can visit vineyards in Etyek.
The best way to see my city is on foot.
If my city were a pet it would be a Hungarian Vizsla: an excellent companion who is lively and fearless, yet affectionate and gentle mannered.
If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in a restored old peasant house in the Tokaj wine region.
The best book about my city is The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnár.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is anything by Zoltan Kodály and Béla Bartók.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the puppet theater or the Palace of Miracles at Millenáris.
Airplanes flying under the Danube bridges at the Red Bull Air Race could only happen in my city.
My city should be featured on your cover or website because there is no other riverfront view like it in the world. Combine the green hills in Buda with the gritty downtown neighborhoods, throw in some elegant Parisian-style architecture and some big city buzz, and you’ve got Budapest.
Photos: Catherine Karnow for National Geographic Traveler. To see more images from this Budapest gallery, click here.