Budapest Christmas Market

How perfect it is that I still had time to go check out the Budapest Christmas Market before moving away from Slovakia. And to check it out with the company that I had... I am just so fortunate when it comes to friends. When traveling, the company you have is a very important factor in how successful the trip will in the end be. The worst trip I ever had was unfortunately a long weekend in Paris - as gorgeous as the city always is - because schedules do not belong to a holiday. In my opinion the best thing in Paris, or any destination, would be to get a bottle of wine, some brie cheese and relax. This trip to Budapest was exactly that; complete relaxation, no schedules, no plans (except going to the Christmas market) and in the end we did see a lot of Budapest, mostly places I haven't even seen yet, like the Basilica.

I had been quite sick for two days and was really afraid that I wouldn't be well enough to go. But working from home turned out a very good idea and on Saturday morning, voice still gone and nose leaking, I walked to the bus station. I needed the fresh air after spending an entire day in bed. I ran out of tissues all the time during the trip and had to rely on toilet paper in every restaurant... 

Everybody had recommended the Budapest Christmas market saying that it's a bit smaller than the one in Vienna but much better. After leaving our things in the gaff (which was by the way an amazing apartment with a balcony and a beaaauuutiful park behind the corner, I'm definitely returning just to be able to stay in the apartment again!) we headed for lunch and then the Christmas markets. Pasha is a regular Budapest-goer so we let him decide on a restaurant. He decided on Köleves and thank goodness for that. A hipster place, but the truth is that hipsters know how to make tasty food! I wasn't that hungry but had to try the parsnip cream soup in addition to the veggie wok. Amazing flavours! 

From the restaurant we walked on to the best street in Budapest: the before mentioned Guzsda Udvar, which was decorated with beautiful Christmas lights. We walked through the tunnel-like place and came to the first part of the markets. A small street with little stalls everywhere selling all things Christmassy. We got some hot wine and chocolate truffles and came to the end of the street. That's it?! I almost got disappointed but then our "guide" started to lead us towards the Basilica. And there it was, spread in and around the square in front of the enormous Basilica, the Budapest Christmas market under a sky of lights glittering away. We got some more hot wine and enjoyed the atmosphere. I also got a big laugh from some fellow Finns: all of a sudden I heard someone shout right next to me "Harri! HARRI, mä meen tohon noi juomaa!" (Harri, I'm going over there to drink!). Could you get any more Finnish <3

The Basilica was hovering over the market and it was so majestic that I really wanted to go check it out. So we climbed up and oh lord (literally), the place was unbelievable. I was walking around with my eyes on the roof and, even though Pasha had just noted that one shouldn't get lost in there, I found myself alone, no sight of the others. After wandering around for a while I found them again, though. I'm always so impressed by these huge, beautiful buildings but also a little upset that we don't have any in Finland. We stepped out of the Basilica perfectly before they started a light show on it's facade. Another little thing that market organizers in Finland should take lessons out of. The market was obviously crowded but it was nothing compared to the chaos in Vienna Christmas market where violence was a necessity for advancing in the crowd. 

After the Basilica we decided to go take a look at the Parliament House by the river. We ended up on the chain bridge for an hour or two taking pictures of the castle lit up on the other side, each other and the gorgeous Four Seasons hotel. Walking back towards the Christmas markets we passed the Budapest Eye in the Erzsebet Square. Anna really wanted to go have a ride so why not. I realized that I have actually never been on a Ferris wheel before so I had no idea what it would be like. I have to admit, during the first round I was a little scared. But after getting over the first fright it was a lot of fun. The foggy weather screwed up the view, though.

The coldness caught up with us eventually and we figured that if we wanted to go out we'd have to first go to the apartment to change... And it would be very unlikely that we would leave the apartment after that anymore. So we opted for the most comfortable: take-away pizza and couple bottles of wine to be enjoyed in our gaff. The best idea of the evening! Especially for my soar throat. 

The next morning was kicked off with a little brunch in a café just behind the corner from the apartment. Unfortunately the flu had significantly affected my palate so the breakfast was a bit useless for me. But thankfully I could taste the bacon in the omelette! After breakfast we directed our steps again towards the Parliament House and found ourselves in the Opera on the way. Another amazing building! In front there were two of the most depressed-looking reindeer and inside in the lobby there was a very huggy Santa Claus. Anna, Lenka and Pasha each went to sit in Santa's lap but he was a bit too touchy-feely for my liking so I instead took pictures and laughed my ass off. 

Weather-wise we were quite unlucky on Sunday (foggy sort of rain and cold wind) but popping into the Opera House warmed us up nicely so that we could walk on towards the Parliament. We got there perfectly to see the changing of the guards. Oh how I would like to be the person shouting orders and watching how they are fulfilled! :D

Before heading to the Keleti train station we had time for lunch. Again we left the choosing of the place for Pasha. And again he took us to a hipster place. The poor waiters there looked like they had been out the previous night and were in various stages of suffering. But they were still able to understand our orders and were willing to take approximately 451 pictures of us and our food and our drinks. It was such a special weekend (and also because the whole time in the restaurant I was staring at a word 'Prosecco' written on a black board) that for dessert we decided to have some sparkling wine. Poor hungover waiter did the Formula driver and spilled some of it when opening the cork. He also poured some of it on the table cloth instead of the glasses. But it was funny more than anything else :D 

The restaurant was the last point where we could update our social media channels. I wish you could have seen us every time we sat down in a café or a restaurant, typed in the WiFi password and all just sat there for 5-10 minutes everyone tapping their phones. After social media had been fed (or when the wine arrived) we returned to reality. It's a funny thing how here everybody thinks that in Finland we have free internet everywhere. But honestly, go and try to locate a restaurant in Finland with WiFi. I can guarantee you will be hunting for a long time! Whereas here in Central Europe it's a certainty everywhere. 

When traveling it's always nice on the last day to know that soon you'll be back in your own bed again. But this time I really didn't want to leave Budapest. None of us did! The weekend was such a success that we just didn't want it to end. We were so relaxed, totally enjoying the Prosecco and chatting about all sorts in the restaurant that we didn't even notice how fast the time went. When it was time to down the last bubbles from the glasses and move on to Keleti I really felt like "I'm not getting up from this chair, I'm not moving!" But what could you do... All good things end at some point. But at least you can always do them again!


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