Up until now, I have written a lot about travel, a fair amount about food and a little about love. Well that is about to change as my long awaited travel companion, and partner in crime, Jasper, is finally by my side. Well… For the next two weeks anyway, and then officially as of July 6. I have enjoyed my solo travels and made the most of my time but I am quite happy to finally have my love with me to start our epic adventure together.
Despite coming down with a pesky cold that won’t quit, we had a lovely four days in Vienna and Budapest. Jasper has decided that Vienna is the most beautiful city in the world and has been champing at the bit to get me there for some time (as I have otherwise only spent a tumultuous overnight in Vienna sleeping on the train station floor). I must say, it was stunningly beautiful. Grand, white and pristine, Vienna is the epitome of opulence and luxury; it takes little imagination to envision the empire it once was. It seemed everywhere we turned, we were greeted by giant museums, elegant palaces and sprawling gardens.
And what does one eat in such a city? Well we had to indulge in a Sachertorte and coffee, of course, while a string band played classical hits in the Stadtpark. It was so nice I didn’t even mind the cheesiness. 😊 And speaking of cheese, we also had local Viennese sausages which have cheese throughout them that ooze onto your plate when you cut in. Mmmm. I also couldn’t resist another gröestl, which pairs perfectly with a stein of lager. Those Austrians know what they are doing!
On to Budapest, where we immediately noticed an easing on our wallets, having escaped the euro zone. Arriving in the early evening, we dropped our bags at the apartment we rented and headed out to explore.
Budapest has the grandeur that we saw in Vienna but in place of the refinery is a more colorful rustic atmosphere that feels reminiscent not only of the former Austro-Hungarian empire but also eastern undertones of the Ottoman empire. It was, quite simply, stunning.
We walked along the Danube river, which followed us from Vienna and would take us to Belgrade afterward. On each side of the water (formerly the division of Buda and Pest, Jasper informs me), there are major sights to behold. Parliament, the royal palace, the citadel, the fisherman’s bastion, and the many colourful administrative buildings dotted along. The bridges themselves are a sight to behold, as is the main basilica in the city centre. Not to mention, ice cream cones were only a dollar…
So on with the food! We tried two of the region’s main dishes: Beef goulash (which was more soup than stew and also perfect for a tourist with a head cold!) and chicken in paprika sauce with dumplings. Even with a plugged nose, they were very nice. We also tried some pastries, of course, to get the full experience.
On to Belgrade via an eight hour train ride in the morning!