Tag Archives: budapest

All the things from September until January

After coming home from Italy, the PlayStation 4 took over the spot of my old and beloved PlayStation 3 in the living room (but we sold it for good money, so now someone else is still happy with it), and I enjoyed quite a few evenings playing with FIFA 15. (I also got Destiny for free, but I lost interest in that extremely quickly…) Since then, I won everything with Liverpool, playing maybe even better than they actually did last spring. And although I am a Liverpool supporter since something like 1998 (back then I really liked Owen on the World Cup, and as I figured he played for Liverpool, I chose them), this past season made me even pay for an official membership :) Then Suarez bit out a piece of our heart and left, but luckily the team is back in winning form after a miserable autumn by now, so all is good. I especially like Coutinho these days, but the team is filled with young talents, so the future seems bright. Anyway, probably none of you is interested in this, so…

In October I went to La Palma to be the support astronomer of our Master students at the Mercator Telescope. It’s not only a teaching duty for me, but something I really like to do. I have now 89 nights behind my back at this telescope, so I am sure I can say I am a Mercator-expert! Being at the telescope also meant playing a lot of Kerbal Space Program (if I had more time I would totally write another review of this game), and watching the LEGO movie again. (Everything is awesome!!!)

In the beginning of November we spent a long weekend in Spa, but not in the spa. We went hiking (Day 1 and Day 2) during the day through the beautiful forest and the swampy grasslands of the Fens, and then went for nice dinners (sushi, burgers, and local specialities) in the city on the evenings. It was a great weekend. And even though I accidentally booked the tickets to Interstellar also for the very same weekend, we got to see it at another time. And another one. What a great movie! Not much later we had a delicious brunch in Leuven at Zoff (which was still a present for my PhD). Then already almost in the middle of November we went to Villers-la-Ville to visit the ruin abbey, and since it was something like 20°C, we had a nice time walking around and taking pictures.






In December – as usual – we went to Budapest. We finally managed to check out the restored Várkert Bazár, we had a very nice thunderstorm-lit dinner in Zona (and lots of kürtőskalács), and also spent some lazy days (filled with presents and eating) at my parents’.




Then from the moment we arrived back to Belgium till the very end of January (except for New Year’s Eve, which we spent watching movies, and eating great Asian food and equally good unhealthy snacks), most of our evenings and weekends were devoted to Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was the PS4 game I bought especially because I thought Clio would maybe like watching it, while I was not even sure I would like it, but then, from the first moments until the end credits 95 hours later, we could barely stop playing with it (even Clio started her own story, but then she said watching it was better). It was the game of the year for me (and for other people too), no doubt. I even have a few videos on YouTube about killing the dragons! It was so good, that I almost forgot that we had also completed 50% of Far Cry 4 before that. But the other half is still waiting for me to finish…

In the meantime I also kept going to my Dutch classes, since even though I don’t really like spending my evenings there, it is very useful. On Level 3 I got 84%, and I can talk with Clio quite well in Dutch. (Her Hungarian is also getting better and better, especially given how much more difficult that is. She is surprisingly good!)

The post will be updated with pictures in 48 hours.

Another summer vacation in Budapest

Since Budapest is still Clio’s favourite city-trip destination (and Kürtőskalács-serving location), and my parents would not be very happy without me going ‘home’ once in a while, we spent 10 days in Hungary back in August. (Of course I also like going there, especially as a tourist…) First we spent a long weekend showing the city around to Clio’s father, then after walking ~70 kilometres in three days, we took it a bit easier and spent some time with my family.







Being a tour-guide for the first days also meant that I got into places I have never been before, such as the Opera and the Café Gerbeaud, while being with my parents gave us not only free food and lodging (I still love you guys!), but they also drove us to the village of Szentendre, the castle of Visegrád, and to the city of Esztergom on two of the afternoons.







Since the nicest view to The Cathedral and Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert (wow, that is a long name) is from the Slovakian side of the Danube, we also drove over to Štúrovo (Párkány) to take a few pictures of Hungary’s tallest building.




I also got to kick my brother’s ass multiple times in FIFA 14, but we made up for it by taking him to a nice, hip and trendy hot-dog place. And finally the weather was not too hot either :) Looking at the pictures above you can also tell that we saw the Parliament in its full glory after endless years and years of renovation works (with a bunch of birds circling above it in the floodlights on the evening), and that we went to a huge candy shop to buy more than half kilogram of jelly beans… We will be back for Christmas!

Christmas time

As we are getting ready to leave 2013 behind, here are some memories (mostly photographic ones, since I am too lazy to write) about our Christmas. First, our tree (picture from last year), set and lit up by me, then covered with ornaments and szaloncukor by Clio, while I participated in an indoor cycling tournament on the evening after Sinterklaas :)


Then she made something for our terrace too (shown with the amazing – and this year not so rare – sunshine from December).


Back in Budapest, we went for lots of nice – but cold – walks, did some shopping, had great meals, and drank special Christmas coffee!




Waiting for Clio’s favourite winter holiday food, the kürtőskalács on one of the many Christmas markets of the city.




We had a nice dinner at MÁK bistro (14 points in Gault Millau).






We even had one day with clear skies and sunshine, so we walked up to the Gellért hill to enjoy the panorama.



Then we invited my brother and his girlfriend for lunch in ZONA (17 points in Gault Millau).



Here I tasted a very special dessert wine (Disznókő Szőlőbirtok Sárgaborház Natureszencia 2007), which came in a special glass… It was amazing, a real nectar from the heavens.


Then we walked up to the Castle district to visit Clio’s favourite spot, the Halászbástya, or as she calls it, the Disney Castle of Budapest.



We spent a few days in Budapest (again) recently, and since – as always – we had so much nice food, I think it is about time that I share our experiences about eating out in the capital city of Hungary. And a few nice pictures.




Budapest is one of the cheapest capitals in Europe, so if you are coming from Western Europe with your salary, the chances are high that you can have great food at a very reasonable price (especially compared to what you usually pay at home for the same quality). This of course means, that experiencing fine dining and trying out gourmet courses becomes an option even if you are not rich. Which we are (sadly or luckily) not. So, these are the restaurants we have been to recently (or a few months ago) – with there Michelin stars and Gault Millau points in parenthesis (where available):

Onyx (★ 17) We had the lunch menu here, first around Christmas, and now once again, and we had a perfect culinary experience in both cases. I especially like the interior of the restaurant (although Clio thinks it is a bit too much)! The lunch menu is very affordable, starting at 20 EUR (+15% service). We plan to try the dinner too when we go to Budapest around Christmas. That will be a bit more pricy.


Costes (★ 17) We went here in December, and had a full 5 (8) course dinner. I even went for the suggested wines. Again, we had a really great evening, full of amazing food (both the presentation and the flavours). Although we have to note, that the service was a bit too fast, meaning that there was not enough time between the consecutive small courses to rest. It would have been nicer to have a bit more time to just relax. We barely spent two hours there, and left feeling way too full. I do not think anyone could manage the larger tasting menu. (But I wish I could!)




Bock Bisztró (14) More traditional Hungarian cuisine, impressive wine selection, big (or at least heavy) courses. Should not go there if you are not hungry enough or if you are not a wine loving person. I think I stuffed myself full already with the amazing bread which came with my lecsó. After that, I really had no place left for dessert, although I really wanted one…


21 Hungarian Kitchen (13) We have been here also twice already, and on the first occasion I was extremely happy with everything (and maybe not only because I had a bit more wine than I normally would), but at Christmas last year I was not as satisfied as before. Still, I really love their take on the traditional Hungarian chicken soup (tyúkleves), and also their version of the Somlói cake, although I was a tiny little bit disappointed when I had it the second time, because I missed a flavour which made it so amazing the first time. I hope it was only a mistake (of my taste or the chef), and they did not downgrade their recipe… Anyway, it is a nice place in the Castle, and for the location, it is not too pricy or touristy at all.



Baldaszti’s Grand (11) Surprisingly “low” score for a great place, at least we had a great dinner here las summer, with nice and fresh courses. As far as I can tell, the place is now being turned into a Indochinese restaurant by the same group (but different chef), which sounds like something we should try the next time.


ZONA Ran by the same company, it provides similar quality than the one above. The courses are a bit smaller here, so take 4 and you will be OK. The food is great, try the home made szörp, or if it is summer and they still have it, their fresh, cold fruit soups. Also, very nice interior with huge lightbulbs hanging from the high ceiling.




Spíler One of the new hip and trendy places in the heart of the city, serving a wide range of simple food ranging from burgers to – the so called – traditional Hungarian pizzas (I do not know how traditional they are, but they taste good). Great atmosphere, extremely friendly staff, good food, but nothing fancy. Worth a visit (especially for the feel of the area it is situated within).


Café Alibi A nice small café/restaurant with a great terrace during the summer months. Nothing fancy, but good food, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and coffee :) When you have a hotel nearby, it is the perfect place to dine out if you are not in the mood for something fancy that night.

Besides all the nice restaurants, this time we also went to the Zoo, which was really nice, and since I can not even remember when was the last time I have been there, everything was new for me too. Also, we took the boat of the public transport company to go to the centre from near where my parents live, which was also a first – although mainly because this is service is quite new. Then of course we took the opportunity to go a few rounds on the Ferris wheel (the largest mobile Ferris wheel in Europe) – also worth every penny (or Forint)!



On the way home our flight got cancelled due to a technical problem with the plane, so we had to fly Lufthansa via Munich, and thus get a five hour delay, but at least we got some food on board, and just recently, Brussels Airlines payed us 250 EUR for our troubles, which should be enough for our next tickets to Budapest! :) Update: it was! ;)

Budapest (27/10-02/11)

I have spent the last week (from the 27th of October) in Budapest, going home for the first time outside the Christmas break since I live in Belgium. And to make things even better, it was a surprise visit, with only a very few people knowing that I was coming, so my parents were completely shocked when I arrived home – but shocked in a good way :) I did not do too many things, I met only two friends (but very good and pretty ones :D), but I had spent a lot of quality resting time in the couch (with my parents and/or their iPad :D, or with my brother and FIFA12 – guess who was winning ;P), which I really needed. I got new glasses, some clothes, and of course I have brought back a huge amount of cookies (thanks Mom, I will probably not need to go shopping for a week now, I can live on the cookies) and some quality Hungarian wine. Sweet wine of course. (Click on the images for larger versions!)

Budapest is getting more and more beautiful, and when you get your salary in Euros, then everything is pretty cheap too. Like having a honey and biscuit flavored latte and hot red wine for a total of something like 3.5 € in a nice cafe, I could live with that here too :) The city is fabulous, several squares, big roads and one of our oldest bridges were recently reconstructed, and as you can see, the Parliament building got new night lights. So the downtown is one of (if not The) most beautiful cities in Europe (or the World), but the outskirts are still quite crappy in some given directions… The new airport terminal is also very European, but the check in is still a mess, I was at the airport 100 minutes in advance, and I almost had no time to buy the wines… When I raced out from the tax free shop, the boarding was already in such an advanced state, that there was no queue at the desk…

Now I am back in Leuven, I am completely knocked out as I went to bed at 2 and I had to get up at 4:30 to catch my plane (thanks Mom again)… I have slept something in the past hours, but now my throat is not ok, and I am still KO… I hope I will be better by tomorrow, or I will have to work from home.

While we were walking in the Castle district, a guy thought I was Italian :D Then I said, ok, let’s grab a pizza :P But instead, we had pancakes. Hmmm… :)