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A five star hotel from the luxury Kempinski hotel chain in the center of Budapest delivers everything it promises. Excellent and friendly service with relaxed atmosphere combined with great location makes this the #1 choice of hotels in Budapest. Kempinski Hotel Corvinus is also one of the two hotels that made it to the Leading Hotels 2008 -book together with neighbouring La Meridian. Rooms are huge as well as the beds that come with goose feather pillows and blankets to guarantee a good nights sleep.
During the three days we stayed at very exquisite Kempinski group five stars hotel downtown Budapest. Service was matching the quality of rooms, this was one of the finest hotels I've slept a night.
If you want a trip back in time to the beginning of the 20th century, Restaurant Nosztalgia is the place to go in Budapest. Decorated in the fashion of the era, the place has a classy feeling quite unlike anything else in Budapest. Adding to the atmosphere is a live gyspy orchestra that play their sad melodies almost constantly. Service is also good, while food lacks a bit behind. Main courses are excellent but as it is often in Hungary, starters seem to be impossible for them to make delicious. Beware also national dishes as they might be anything. Apparently Nosztalgia is also famous for its fish so try it out. Waiters are willing to recommend it to you in case you have difficult time in selecting the dish.
For cheap and delicious dinner try the Luigi A la Carte restaurant, located quite near the Opera House. Beautiful portions (for example a flag of Hungary made of different spices in the top of the 3,50 € pasta), delicious italian-hungarian food, very reasonable prices and a great athmosphere. (it's a tiny place so with a bigger group it might be a bit difficult to fit in) Address: Zichy Jeno utca, 31
This area of the Hungarian capital may not be as famous as Castle Hill, Váci Street or Heroes' Square, but for visitors looking to gain some insight into the country's history, it shouldn't be left out. Established at the turn of the 19th century when the jewish community gathered in the 7th District along the road leading to the bridge that crosses the Danube. The center of this area became Király Street. This was also where in 1944 the Pest Ghetto was built, crowding 70.000 people together. In 2002 this historic neighborhood bordered by Király and Csányi Street, Klauzál Square, Kisdiófa and Dohány Street and Károly Boulevard was named the old Jewish Quarter of Pest and was entered into the World Heritage Conservation Zone. This area is home to most of the city's Jewish cultural heritage sites, including the famous „Synagogue Triangle.” At Dohány Street 2. you will find the world's second largest and Europe's largest synagogue, the Dohány Street Synagogue. The site of this building is also the birthplace of Theodor Herzl, Father of Zionism. In the garden is the Martyrs' Cemetery and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. Adjacent to the temple is the Jewish Museum. The second point of the Triangle is the synagogue on Rumbach Street, also known as „the little synagogue.” The third point is the Kazinczy Street Orthodox Synagogue. This area is home to kosher shops and Budapest's only mikveh (ritual bath). This historic district, as a part of the city's rehabilitation strategy, started to to look towards youth culture and tourism in recent years: from 2002 some now very popular cafes, bars and summer music venues opened in buildings that were earlier considered for demolition: the Szimpla-garden, the Gozsdu Mano Klub, or the Kőleves (Stone Soup) -garden to name a few. Since then the area, especially Kazinczy Street is not only known for its rich cultural heritage, but for it's unique cultural present, with "ruin pubs," art and design shops, like the Kék Ló (Blue Horse)and Printa graphic design studio which incidently also function as pubs/cafes.
Just as I mentioned you're not supposed to leave Lake Balaton for Budapest, enter Sziget festival. The biggest rock festival in Central Europe with more than half a million visitors was just something we couldn't miss. It was going on between 13th and 18th so it was really something we couldn't miss and didn't have and opportunity to wait so there we were. Bigger than all Finnish summer festivals put together, Sziget was really a festival to see. Tens of stages meant every genre was available in Sziget, only your imagination being the limit. Music wasn't even played too loud as you could still hear on the day after the festival something else than the ringing in your ears. People also came here to stay for the whole week. Every open green bit contained dozens of tents, not only the official camping area but every green bit. Even while the place was crowded, the toilets seem to be in rather good condition, quite unlike anywhere I've been before. There were also containers with water closets so you didn't need to use bajamajas if was not urgent.
Bigger than all Finnish summer festivals put together, Sziget is really a festival to see. Tens of stages means every genre is available in Sziget, only your imagination is the limit. Music isn't still played too loud as you can still hear on the day after the festival. People also come here to stay for the whole week. Every open green bit contains dozens of tents, not only the official camping area. Even while the place is crowded, the toilets seem to be in rather good condition. There are also containers with water closets so you don't need to use bajamajas if it's not urgent. There is also other activities besides music in Sziget. You can try everything from bungee jump to ourdoor table tennis, yoga, rope gliding and "hanoi tower" building where you climb as high as you can with the help from empty beer cases you lay on top of each other while climbing.
Andrássy Avenue is the place to see in Budapest if you have only day to visit in the city. Almost every major museum and city's famous opera house are located onto it. In a matter of fact, the whole street is Unesco world heritage site. In addition the street is crowded with shops of expensive brands while those that don't have a presence there yet are queuing in line for a spot in the center of Budapests fashion & shopping street. The biggest attraction of Andrássy Avenue still isn't on the street but rather under it. Along the path of the avenue just underneat it follows a mini-metro or mini-subway, the oldest of its' kind in continental Europe, at 125 years of age. Metro is a must-see for those who visit Budapest.
The Danube Palace is a historic building in the heart of Downtown Budapest, once known as the Casino of Lipótváros. The term casino was not used as a place for gambling, but rather as a cultural and recreation center where members could come to spend their free time. Continuing in this tradition, this stately, beautifully restored Baroque Revival building is today a place for the performing arts. It is the home theater of the Danube Symphony Orchestra, the Danube Folk Ensemble and hosts frequent performances of the Hungaria Folk Ensemble and Gypsy Orchestra. The building in itself is quite impressive, with free tours available daily to visitors.
My favorite restaurant in Budapest. They offer decent home-made style Hungarian food (or at least did two or three years ago when I visited). The interior is very cozy. Every inch of the walls and ceiling are covered with brown wrapping paper with black line drawings of furnishings found in a home. There are piles of books, lamps, a parrot in a cage, vases, a phone on a stand, and the ceiling even has a drawing of a fan with a real cord hanging from it. We found the place by chance while strolling around the streets of Budapest. Despite the non-fancy looks outside, I'd say the place is worth a visit.
The Buda Castle felt like a fortressed town once we got to the cobbled streets of the castle hill. The view over Danube towards Pest is great from the Fisherman's Bastion. We didn't go inside the castle though because there was some wine tasting and purchasing event going on the castle yard. Instead we went to a nearby restaurant to eat well and have some wine on our own. And then we spent the rest of the day (and evening and night) in Pest's best bars..
After the national holiday it was our turn to vacate to the nations capital, Budapest. This time the trains were much less crowded, maybe due to the fact that it wasn't Saturday or a holiday season peak. Budapest itself provided much more activity than we managed to squeeze in for the tree days. Thinking of it afterwards we should've spent more time in Budapest and less in Vienna and replace Milan with Venice altogether but more on that later.