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I <3 Budapest - 5 Reasons To Visit Hungary

There’s an old Hungarian evergreen which says “Pest deserves a night”, but in my opinion it deserves at least 10 nights in a row. I recently traveled back to Hungary for a little work-holiday, and I must say: me and my husband were both blown away how much the city has changed since we “left the boat” in 2009. Here are all the fun facts why I love Budapest so much – and why you should too. 

All photos taken by my Microsoft Lumia 640

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(Magyar szöveg az oldal alján.)

1. Incredible Vegan Restaurants

It’s no news for me that Hungary is finally catching up with the vegan revolution – but this time I really wanted to take time to get to know the new exciting culinary hotspots of Budapest.

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Without any doubt Napfényes is the ultimate king of vegan restaurants in Budapest – not only it offers world class pizza with milk-free cheese, but they even created the perfectly done veggie versions of all the classic Hungarian dishes. Chef Zoltan Kovacs started off at Gundel, Budapest’s legendary restaurant – and when professionalism meets animal rights and well being, success is guaranteed. I’d love to recommend a specific dish, but since everything is perfect, it’s really up to you what you feel like. The cherry on the top: the smoked tofu with perfectly done grilled veggies are not only vegan but gluten free as well.

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Another few top favorites: Portéka Gasztro is a cute little shop in a hidden street serving wonderful vegan burgers and “tofu bacon” sandwiches. The Zen Vegan Chinese is THE place what Miranda from Sex and The City would go for. Csendes M is a lovely little bistro serving vegan dishes – my favorite was the dosa with mango chutney.

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And Kozmosz surprised us with their interpretation of “pörkölt” a typical Hungarian meat stew, except this one was made with seitan. We gave a go to raw food restaurant “Az Élet Étterme“, meaning “The Restaurant Of Life”, but sadly we were not impressed – raw vegan culinary has much more to offer than this eatery came up with.

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And finally something not to be missed: get in touch with Bálint Kakuk and order yourself a fantastic raw vegan cake – the guy is a genius, our favorite was Strawberry Raffaello, but you literally can’t go wrong with whatever you pick. Having no time to order, yet craving sweets? Go for Naspolya Nassolda, where all cakes are gluten free, and many of them are 100% vegan.

2. The City Just Looks Amazing

I lived in Budapest most of my life, but I must admit: the city never looked more pretty than now days.

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The public parks are clean and tidy, more and more apartment buildings are renovated in style, and the town got it’s rent-a-bike system, so getting around is super easy. Just a few tips…

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Admire the nature in Városliget, the city’s greatest park, wonder around the allies at the Castle district, go shopaholic on Váci utca and Westend City Center, enjoy the beauty of Andrassy, the “Rotschield boulevard” of Budapest, or just grab a picnic basket and don’t stop until Margit Island, a green oasis of nature lovers bordered by the majestic river Danube.

3. The Party Scene Is Full Of Surprises

Once upon a time Budapest was a city where going out was an option only on Fridays and Saturdays – but now days, thanks to all the new hip places around Kazinczy and Király utca. The most exciting new discovery is Tesla, a club with impressive size and super cool design – thanks to my good friend, event organizer and PR guru Anita Puchardt this is where I threw my annual Madonna party, and all I can say, it’s the perfect venue for your night out in Budapest.

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For the famous Budapest-style “ruin-pubs” stick to the neighborhood, and just walk around and follow the good music. Gozsdu Udvar is filled with hot bars and bistros, and the best news is: you can always find streetfood restaurants open in the area, even around 3AM (you go, El Rapido Grill and Tequila Bar!)

4. A Trip In The Country

Lake Balaton is the ultimate holiday destination for Hungarians – the beaches of the North side of the lake are more calm, and the South side is more for the party animals (watch out for Balaton Sound Festival this summer, aligning international stars on several stages).

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We visited Everness, an annual spiritual festival which blew my mind: Indian medtation music played by a love band at 8 in the morning, vegan and vegetarian tents selling mouthwatering dishes, and curious, beautiful people listening to lecturers of many ideologies and paths – I talked about the connection between vegan lifestyle and spirituality.

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Thanks to szallodak.hu, an online hotel booking system I quickly found a wonderful accommodation facing the lake – sipping red wine, munching on Hungarian pastries from Napfényes we experienced the most beautiful sunset of our lives.

5. A Friendly Get Together

As I’m getting busy with some new projects this summer, involving Budapest and Tel Aviv as well, it’s more than possible I’ll go “home” from “home” at least one more time this summer. I’ll be glad to meet the lovely Hungarians again, as this time I literally had no negative experience whatsoever – the stereotypic “Hungarian bitterness” did not show on anyone’s once, as people recognized me they respectfully and kindly said hello and asked questions about my life abroad, and many wondered about when my vegan cookbook is coming out.

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Meeting friends and family was also a blessing – my dad arranged a family lunch at his girlfriend’s place who prepared an all-vegan feast for us. Seeing long lost friends shaking the dance floor at my “Bitch I’m Madonna” party was an unforgettable experience.

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If you want to join me next time, or you’re curious where can we catch up, join the almost 8000 people following my Instagram account, like the blog on Facebook, and if you never want to miss an article of mine, push notifications from my Hungarian language Facebook page – online translation tool available.

And finally, a little “visual intro” of what happened in the past 10 days in Budapest – by TV2’s doco-celeb show, Aktiv

Otthonról Haza

Azt mondják, ott az otthon, ahol a szív – ám olyasvalaki számára, akinek mindig ott van a szíve, ahol éppen jár a “haza” fogalma meglehetősen tág fogalom. Hűen szemlélteti, milyen komolyan veszem a “világpolgár” létet, hogy mikor tíz évvel ezelőtt Édesanyám, a Mama egy másik világba költözött, a hamvainak nem egy, nem kettő, nem is három, hanem négy különféle helyen mondtam búcsút. Nem meglepő hát, hogy csak mosolygok azokon az embereken, akik szerint hazaáruló volnék, amiért évek óta Tel Avivban élek.

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Ami pedig a családot és barátokat illeti – a Papát, az unokatesókat, nagynéniket, a kistesómat Lolát, és a nyusziját, Gusztit, no meg a többieket, mert szerencsére jó sokan vannak, akiket szeretek – aki teheti, meglátogat, de akkor sincs semmi, ha épp nem látjuk egymást fél évig. Nem attól szeretjük egymást jobban, hogy hányszor beszélünk egy héten, hanem attól, hogy támogatjuk, segítjük, inspiráljuk és értékeljük egymást, és lélekben ott vagyunk a másiknak, amikor szükségünk van egymásra. Köszönöm, hogy legkevesebb két országban otthon lehetek. Ha kíváncsi vagy, mere jártam, mi mindent csináltam, és hol találkozhatunk legközelebb, mikor Budapestre látogatok, olvasd el legfrissebb beszámolómat a Nesze!szer blogon, kövess Facebookon és Instagramon is.

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Hamarosan magyarul is mesélek a kedvenc budapesti vegán éttermeimről a Dívány.hu-n megjelenő írásomban – addig is egy tipp: próbáld ki a magyaros pizzát a Napfényesben.

xoxo #SteinerKristóf

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