One of the great things about working on cruise ships is that it gives you the opportunity to make friends from all over the world. Not only do you meet amazing people from different cultures and spend time with them while on board and exploring the ports, it also means you have people to visit in all different cities and countries when your contract or ship days are through. This winter, my Hungarian friend Zsofia and I took full advantage of this, along with the new, super cheap Ryanair flights between Copenhagen and Budapest, to pay each other a visit. Two weeks after she spent three days here, visiting Nyhavn, the Palaces, the markets, and of course Christmas at Tivoli Gardens, it was my turn to discover her city of Budapest.
|Vörösmarty Square Market|
It was a new city for me, and Hungary was my 60th country visited! I was eager to explore Budapest, and especially visit its Christmas Markets. My first evening there, we headed for the main market at Vörösmarty Square. My first impression was that the market was charming but very small, but as we started strolling around, I realized it was not only bigger than it had initially looked, but that the items on offer were of really nice quality. There were handmade goods from ceramics to candles to cookies, all beautifully displayed.
What really won me over at this market though was the food. The entire centre of the market was dedicated to Hungarian specialties – huge meaty pork knuckles, stuffed cabbage leaves, roast goose, goulash, and much more. Even a ‘rooster testicle stew!’ (no I did not try it). There were endless choices, but in the end, we shared a Langos, a delicious deep-fried dough topped with sour cream, garlic, and grated cheese. It was a chilly night, and this hearty treat, combined with a hot apple cinnamon drink, warmed us up and keep us going.
|Rooster testicle stew! (on the right)|
After the square, we strolled along Váci utca, the main shopping street, where there were more huts, and incredible festive lights. I bought a beautiful little egg-shaped ornament painted in the traditional style in a deep blue with white. After reaching the huge Ferris Wheel, we called it a night.
|St Stephens Basilica Market|
But my Budapest Christmas Market experience wasn’t over yet: the next day we headed to the smaller but equally charming one in front of the gorgeous St. Stephens Basilica. This beautiful setting added to the feel of this smaller market, and there seemed to be less of a crowd. There were some unique stalls here too – vintage photographs, scented soaps, potpourri hangings smelling of dried orange, apple and cinnamon, and adorable handmade stuffed toys. The food options here were more limited, but you could find some nice goodies, including the traditional chimney cake being spun over an open flame.
|Making Chimney cake|
Budapest’s Christmas Markets may not rival the more famous ones in Germany or Austria, but there’s something charming about the smaller scale and the low-key atmosphere of them. The handmade goods on offer are beautiful, and the local food delicious! Budapest is a beautiful city to experience during the holidays, and my visit was a truly memorable one.