While Christoph has been melting in Shanghai, I've just come back from a three day visit to friends, MP and BP, in Budapest. The last time I was in Budapest was with Linh in 2013 when we went around and explored most of the major tourist spots. In turn, this trip was different in that I could spend time with actual residents and got to see the city from a local's perspective. And it was exceptional!
Budapest has been driven by tourism to improve its facilities and offerings and it must be paying off because they are currently hosting the FINA Championships; the opening ceremony was on Friday 14, July. My friends tell me that there have been lots of roadworks, repairs and general beautification leading up to the the FINA event. On my first day, we took out the bikes and rode along the Danube where new bike paths had been laid and well-thought areas built for public use. It was a great day to be outdoors and a great way to see the city.
In the years since I was in Budapest, the city has had an influx of high quality restaurants and cafes. The typical Hungarian cuisine of heavy meats, potatoes and carrots is still there but the newer establishments are now offering lighter, healthier fare which I was very excited to see. I was able to eat very well each day with minimal meat, I had some fish on a couple of occasions, but I would never have thought that I could avoid meat in Budapest four years ago. At Marga Bistro, the barley risotto with chanterelles was excellent and then a spinach salad with olive tepanade and pickles at Szimply showed me that salads are still in. On my last evening we dined at Nobu where I had a 7 course vegetarian omakase menu which was divine. I ate very well in Budapest :o)
I was very happy to be surprised by the dining scene but the greatest surprise was the emerging coffee culture. Berlin has the past two years introduced the flat white, a quintessential Australian coffee, but in the various Budapestian cafes we went to, they all used artisan roasted beans and served flat whites. Therefore, please go visit Budapest if you haven't already and enjoy not only the history and baths, but also the fresh emerging vibrant restaurants and cafes!