A Last Minute Bargain To Budapest Part 2: Food, Wine and Religion

Hotel: The Three Corners Hotel Art
Room: Comfort Double Room
Status: N/A

It wasn’t long before we arrived at our hotel and with a thankfully quick check in we were soon sound asleep. However, five hours later our morning unexpectedly sprung to life when a neighbouring guest’s alarm went off continually from around 06:00 with all the vibrating force of a small earthquake. Somehow, despite the intrusion we were still happy.

We popped downstairs for our complimentary buffet breakfast that contained a mix of hot and cold items including eggs, bacon, sausages, fruit, cold meats, cheeses, breads and pastries. We felt that the quality was above average considering the low price we’d paid for our room and we’d be certainly be happy to stay at The Three Corners Hotel Art again, especially in light of what looks like a recent extensive internal modernisation and refurbishment of the rooms. The current photographs on the hotel’s website seem a world away from the slightly drab room we stayed in.

We picked up our Budapest Cards from the hotel’s front desk which gave us 72 hours use of the bus, tram, metro and boats across the city as well as entry to a number of museums. The passes worked out at about £22 each during the time of our trip in 2015, though thanks to inflation and the increasingly unfavourable exchange rate the price is now closer to £40. The value of these cards of course depends on your likelihood to visit the museums on offer as transportation is very reasonably priced in Budapest. We left our case at the hotel and went out to explore the city.

Our first stop was the Hungarian National Museum, built in 1847 and housed in a grand neoclassical construction.

I felt that the museum contained a handful of highlights; the mosaic in the basement, some bone saddles and a notable selection of communist era art. For better or worse though, the real highlight of the museum was the building itself which was spectacular both inside and out.

We spent an hour and a half in the museum and although we could probably have spent longer we felt we’d be able to fill any gaps in our knowledge of Hungarian history from our guide book.

Our second stop of the day was the Great Synagogue and we were lucky enough to arrive just as one of the complementary tours was starting.

The building itself was an interesting mix of Moorish and Romantic architectural elements and was constructed in 1859, then refurbished extensively in the 1990’s thanks to numerous donations from wealthy Americans with Hungarian family history.
Our guide was charismatic and we felt he would not have looked or sounded out of place in a 1970’s Scorsese or Coppola movie.
Speaking of which, the building is the largest Jewish place of worship outside of New York!
We thought our guide did an excellent job of explaining the unique features of the building including its organ and the nice Catholic lady who plays it.

He also explained that unusually for a Synagogue, the building has numerous similarities to a Catholic Church, such as the having the rabbi at the front, the central rose window and two pulpits in the middle.

We then paid a brief visit to the Heroes’ Temple which serves as a memorial to Hungarian Jews who gave their lives during the First World War.

Of course no visit to this building is complete without the retelling of the tragic destruction of the Jewish population of Hungary at the end of World War Two.
There were multiple beautiful monuments to the dead in the Synagogue’s Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park to the back and side of the main building.
Another monument in the surrounds of the Synagogue.
The stained-glass memorial to Nicholas Winton, the ‘British Schindler’ who rescued 700 Czech Jewish children just before WWII.
The monuments had been made with the hope that such catastrophic events would never be repeated.
There was also a museum, though unfortunately we were short of time and did not manage to visit it.

We went back to the hotel to collect our bags before taking the metro two stops followed by a short walk to meet our Airbnb host, Daniel.

Public transport in Budapest was an eclectic mix of modern and what looked like classic communist era buses, trains and trams, just my cup of tea!

Rental: Airbnb
Room: Hot Spot – 2 Bedrooms & 2 Bathrooms
Host: Daniel

Daniel buzzed us in and we climbed the stairs. Thankfully other than a slight smell of damp the flat he was renting out was lovely and looked just like the pictures on the website. The rooms were spacious and in all honesty this apartment was overkill for the two of us.

Daniel was a friendly host but we felt his recommendations of places to go were not exactly inspired and in fact were hardly better than what our taxi driver had mentioned to us the night before. Unfortunately our host got a touch defensive about this when we left our feedback to him in private after giving him a very positive public review. As someone who has worked in customer services I always appreciated constructive feedback to improve what I did, hopefully Daniel reflected on what we told him and took it in the spirit we intended and not as a personal criticism.

We settled in and and decided to take Daniel up on his recommendation for lunch, Kantin a local restaurant serving cheap, touristic Hungarian fare.

At around £6 for all that food it may not have been inspiring but it certainly left us ready to roll for the afternoon!
We started off with a generous portion of goulash soup.
I had the paprika chicken, which is now something we now regularly cook at home.
Anne-So chose the beef pörkölt, a stew made with onions and paprika.

The food was good but we spent the rest of the day feeling like someone left a lump of lead in our stomachs. Hungary was quickly turning into one of those countries that gives the USA a run for its money when it came to portion size.

We thought it was a bit too late in the day to visit any further attractions so instead we spent the afternoon walking the streets to get a feel of the city whilst trying to work off our lunches.

We kept on going trying to find the most scenic streets in the city.

We eventually found the wall with the famous Hungarian invented Rubik’s Cube painting on it.
We then continued past the Rumbach Street Synagogue.
And on to the Arcadia Hotel, which somehow reminded me of the old housing trust flats you see in Central London.
We caught a great view of Buda Castle that we’d visit the following day.

We continued walking close to the bank of the Danube till we reached the Klotild Palace buildings flanking either side of the road that led to the Elisabeth Bridge. Once again I had to grab a photo of one of those gorgeously iconic yellow trams.

Once we were exhausted we headed north on the metro and attempted to have dinner at the well regarded restaurant, Laci Konyha. Unfortunately we missed the poorly placed sign advising the restaurant was closed for a private event and then after tripping over the stairs in front of said event goers we had to settle with booking a table for the following night and hoped the restaurant staff would forget our minor indiscretion!

In the end this failure was actually for the best, as unsure what to do we felt like a drink or two and ended up at Doblo which our guidebook said, “is where you go to taste Hungarian wines” and that is exactly what we did!

Anne-So having grown up in one of the best wine regions in the world was curious to taste what Hungary had to offer.

We went with the basic Hungarian Mini flight.
Our wine was accompanied by a very generous portion of charcuterie, bread and cheese all for around £10 each.

Each glass came with a full explanation of tasting notes, geography and history of the wine we were about to drink and all delivered in flawless English too. Wow! What a fantastic evening and highly recommended if like us you are a novice to Hungarian wine.

Before we left I couldn’t resist this picture… Hopefully when Anne-So and I get older we don’t stop having lots of fun

Being completely full and a little tipsy we made the short walk to bed for a good nights sleep, despite the best efforts of one of the many local night spots.

A Last Minute Bargain To Budapest

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