My trip to Budapest: What I loved the most

This post is long overdue. As I wrote in the post Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary), I travelled to Budapest in November of last year. It was an amazing trip with my best friend, in which we fell in love with the beauty of the city. Though there were a myriad of things I loved about Budapest, if you were to ask me to name the 5 things I enjoyed the most, these would be my answer:

  1. The jaw-dropping night views

Even though Budapest is beautiful during the day, I must say that when the sun sets down it is like the entire city gains a new life. The city slowly evolves as the day goes by and it has a special charm after dark that I can’t put into words. You have to see and experience it yourself.

All monuments become beautifully illuminated and the light gives them a whole new meaning. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Parliament get all lit by night. So in case you are planning to visit Budapest any time soon, I would highly encourage you to go for a walk at night time along the river banks. I can promise you that you will be left swoon at the stunning sight.

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2. Its countless beautiful cafes/restaurants and characteristic ruin pubs 

I think that a big deal of success of any coffee shop or restaurant is the atmosphere and culture created in it. When I visit a new spot for food or just for a cup of coffee, I want it to have a welcoming and comfortable environment. An inviting atmosphere where I lose track of time whilst having a good conversation with my friends/family/boyfriend . Because I am a huge fan of journaling or getting some work done at coffee shops, I love when I feel that the space is inspiring and builds creativity.  This was definitely the case  of this cafe we got to visit in Budapest.

 

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Seriously guys..how beautiful and special does it look? We ended up here randomly and were so glad we did. We stopped by in order to recharge our batteries with a hot beverage and got positively surprised by the cozy atmosphere and amazing decor the moment we stepped in.

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We also went to this ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, on our first evening in Budapest and it is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is basically a giant pub that was set up in a crumbling and abandoned building; a place full of mysticism, where chaos, eclecticism and vintage design meet.

3. The dip-based dishes and Shakshouka

When my best friend and I get together we are all about chatting whilst nibbling on something. So if you, just like us, are all about it too and love warm flatbread paired with a good hearty and creamy dip… then Budapest is certainly the place to go to! We ate all the hummus, tahini, muhammara and baba ganoush we could possibly eat haha. I mean… you can never get enough, can you? We tried all sorts of dips in various places and we were not disappointed. They were all unbelievably creamy, super rich in flavour and oh-so-tasty. My friend has no dietary restrictions but I do not consume meat or dairy. We ate out nearly for every meal and this did not represent a problem. Even though traditional Hungarian cuisine is known to be heavy on meat and cheese, flatbread with dips and Shakshouka seemed to be part of every menu. So if you are vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You aren’t going to be missing out on the local cuisine 🙂

Despite following a diet that is mostly plant-based, I do eat eggs occasionally. For that reason I was able to have my very first shashouka and I loved every mouthful of it.Even though this is a dish originally from North Africa, it is very popular in Hungary.  For those of you who do not know, Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached/stewed in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli pepper and garlic. The one I ordered came topped with fresh coriander, roasted aubergine and a drizzle of tahini. It was absolutely heavenly.

 

Restaurant Dombrumba

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Restaurant Mazel Tov

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4. The thermal baths

Sadly, I got an ugly cold right on my second day in Budapest. Lucky me, hey? I woke up with a running nose, a sore throat and feeling a bit light headed. As you can imagine, the last thing I wanted was to fall sick and have the whole trip spoiled. As a good cup of lemon and ginger tea is my immunity-boosting natural remedy of choice, I made sure I drunk it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Every single day. It did not seem to make my cold go away but at least it did not make it worse. Anyway, on our third evening in the city we decided to got to the thermal baths. Even though this was one of the things that I was super excited to do, I was also a little bit fearful that it would make my cold worse. Nevertheless, I just had to do it because, despite being a popular attraction for tourists, it still is a public comfort for the locals. So knowing myself as I do, I was sure that I would regret skipping this experience.

We chose to go to Rudas Baths as per advice of our Airbnb owner. Apparently this thermal bath is as just as good as the other ones but less touristy. We went there at around 7pm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. It was just the perfect way to wind down after a cold day of touring the city.

Rudas Baths

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There was this jaccuzzi on the roof terrace and it had an amazing view over the city. Priceless.

5. “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market”  with a local

What I enjoy the most about travelling is the possibility of immersing myself into the destination and the locals. Even though I like to do some touristy things, such as visiting certain monuments/museums or going on a walking tour, what I truly seek when traveling is to discover hidden gems, mingle with the locals and dive into the local culture. Traveling really is about venturing into the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar. I love leaving the destination with enriching life experiences and new knowledge about the language, the people and their unique lifestyle habits.

As my best friend shares this same view when it comes to travelling, we decided to buy an “experience” through AirBnb! I don’t know if you know it already but this online platform not only offers short-term accommodation but also experiences that allow you to delve into the local culture. The experience was called “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” . We booked it for Sunday morning, which was our last full day in Budapest. We were actually the only people who attended it on that specific day, which in my opinion just turned the whole experience more special. The Hungarian guide, Reka, was a self-proclaimed travel foodie and we learnt so much about the local cuisine in Hungary with her. She talked about its influences, the most popular dishes and what are ingredients and spices most commonly used. She was super friendly and we could really connect with her through the act of cooking and tasting delicious food. The entire experience lasted for about 2.5 hours and it was absolutely worth. It was about 10:30am when we arrived to the market and we had a shot of Pálinka, the national fruity firewater waiting for us haha. No objections allowed. Remember when I wrote that I got a sore throat on my second day in Budapest?… well not anymore after drinking the shot! haha

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We actually messaged Reka before booking this cooking and tasting session and we asked her if this experience was still worth and appropriate for someone who does not eat meat or dairy products. She answered that the main dish could be cooked with no animal-derived products and that there were many vegan options for us to try at the farmers market. I really liked the fact that Reka was super flexible and did not pose any issues. We purchased the experience and we were so glad we did because it turned out to be so enjoyable and vegan-friendly.

The dish we cooked together was the Hungarian semolina dumpling soup (Grízgaluska leves). Its tradition version has pork liver dumplings but those were added separately to my friend’s plate. Funnily enough she did not really liked them and said that she would have preferred the soup made vegan like mine was.

While the soup was cooking, Reka took us on a tour around the market. We got to try food from every single stall. I skipped the stalls where cheese and sausages were being sold but I still got to eat so many things, such as vegan cheesecakes, raw cookies, granola, nuts, jams and chutneys. Everything was sourced locally, organic and homemade. The people selling these food items were so chatty, friendly and passionate about what their products. We had a great time!

 

After eating all sorts of foods, we were not sure if we had any room left for the soup… but when we noticed how yummy it looked and smelled, we changed our minds and agreed that we could certainly make room for it! haha

Anyway, here is the final result:

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Directly from the farmers’ market to the table. So hearty and comforting. We paired it with homemade mulled wine, which totally warmed us up.

This really was the best way we could have experienced the local culture. The market (and Reka) gave us an experience that we have not experienced anywhere else. We had the chance of connecting with the locals,  learn about the local cuisine and chow down delicious Hungarian food. We left the place feeling so happy, satisfied and full! 🙂

 

Our trip really was amazing and memorable. Travelling showed me once again that there is no one way to live life and that is just wonderful. ♥ Plus, Budapest is a pretty affordable city with such an unique charm and I definitely recommend it to any travellers. I hope you enjoyed to read this post and please let me know in the comment section bellow if you’ve ever been to Budapest or if it’s on your travel plans. If you have been to this city what did you enjoy the most? 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary)

I flew to Budapest at the end of last year to meet my best friend, who is currently living in Germany. When we were University students and flatmates living in Lisbon we used to say “once we start making money, we will travel together to all the places we have dreamed of and it will be just epic”. Now that the time has come, I am so happy to see that we are actually making happen what we our younger selves once promised. This was our first time in Hungary and our very first trip abroad together and it could not have been more amazing or memorable really. It exceeded both our expectations. ♥

Even though my bestie eats everything and does not have any special dietary requirements like I do, she is also a huge foodie who is always keen on trying new foods! I really admire her love for food in general. She is great cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, which I find to be quite inspiring. I showed her the list of cafes and restaurants that I wanted to visited and that I compiled prior to our trip. Gathering a list of cafes and food spots that seem to be unique/characteristic in the way they look or in the vegetarian/vegan food they serve is something I always do before traveling! 🙂  It was a real joy to see that she was as excited as I was to go to all the spots I have looked up.. and as a result, we got to eat so much good food in amazing looking places!

After a long walk by the Danilo in the freezing cold, we were ready for a sweet treat and a hot beverage to warm us up. Hence, we decided to stop by the cafe “Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro” before heading to the thermal baths. This cafe was in my list due to its mouth-drooling raw sweet treats and that whole idea seemed just perfect since we were way too cold and in much need of a break from all the walking. As I have mentioned before here, raw vegan cheesecakes are my kind of dessert. They are usually very rich in flavour, creamy and not too sweet. They are also normally made mainly with real and simple ingredients, like nuts and fruits, which I absolutely love.

 

My friend ordered a cappuccino with coconut milk and I ordered a hibiscus tea that came in a big cuppa! It fell like a huge hug coming from a cup. We also ordered these two slices of vegan raw cheesecake (gluten free and only naturally sweetened) to share. And yes, they were as good as they look. * win win *

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If I remember well, these were flavours of the cheesecakes we ordered: Dried apricot and Chocolate & Pomegranate and Raspberry cheesecake.

There was a wide variety of them, which just made it harder to decide which ones to get. Anyhoo, we were both very happy and satisfied with our choices. They were not only aesthetic pleasing but also pretty sinful.

About the cafe and service offered

I found the cafe to be slightly overpriced (certainly more expensive than most places in Budapest) and perhaps a little bit overhyped too. It is a small cute cafe with tasty vegan sweet treats but it seems like it is just lacking in soul. It is not exactly the food spot that I would describe as cozy or inviting.  The entire atmosphere is a bit “meh” and the fact that there is not a real coffee espresso machine, makes it all seem a bit amateurish. Also, the staff did not come across as being very welcoming, friendly or even passionate about her work. This was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing to experience. I mean, do not get me wrong, we still enjoyed to come here due to the delicious sweet treats and hot beverages we had. They hit the spot and were just what we needed but I feel like this would not be a honest review if I did not mention the less positive sides of the service.

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All in all, I think that the place is just not being explored to its full potential. It is a real shame because the food concept is attractive (i.e. all 100% plant-based, raw and gluten free food ) and the menu offers a good variety of healthy and nourishing savoury dishes and sweet treats. Plus, it is in a fairly central and popular area (near the Parliament).

From what I have looked up online,Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro was actually the first 100% raw vegan restaurant opening in Hungary. I am glad I had the chance to visit it and I have now formed an opinion by having experienced it first-hand. I’d still recommend this place in to any person who happens to be in Budapest and is curious about raw vegan food and/or who is a cheesecake lover.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Source, York (England)

I traveled to the north of England earlier this year and I finally had the chance of visiting the lovely city of York. Going to cozy and pretty cafes and trying new and good foods are always part of my travel itinerary whenever I go on holidays. In my opinion, one of the greatest joys of wandering is discovering that little gem of a restaurant or cafe along the way. ♥

After a well-spent morning exploring York’s ancient walls and alleys, we decided to stop by at the restaurant “Source” for lunch. This time was actually my boyfriend who looked up this restaurant online and I was super glad with his suggestion! 🙂 The cloudy weather got me craving some real comfort food and I must say that the dishes I ordered totally hit the spot!

The restaurant is conveniently located in the heart of the city and all the ingredients used are locally sourced. Even though Source is specialized in slow meats, superfoods and vegetarian dishes, they also have a menu that is entirely vegan. 🙂 Despite its simple decor and relativelly small space, the restaurant has a clean and inviting atmosphere with an open kitchen (a concept that I love) and comfortable seating. The staff was accomodating and friendly.

You can see below the dishes I ordered:

Starters to share (£6.00):

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Caulliflower florets roasted with turmeric, chilli and ginger and garnished with fresh rocket leaves and pomegranate seeds. They came served with a yoghurt dip. As I do not consume dairy products I did not try the dip but boyfriend did and approved! 🙂 *small remark* can we please take all a moment to appreciate how pretty the what looks like to be handmade ceramic dinnerware is? Love it!!

As for the main, I decided to order this mouth-watering and hearty ratoutille (£12.00):

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The ratatoutille consisted of oven baked aubergine, green and yellow zucchinis with a super yummy red pepper and tomato sauce. It came served with some traditional bread, which I kindly asked to be toasted since it was supposed to be “warm” according to the menu. It was absolutely scrumptious and its aroma would leave you drooling trust me. By the way, who would have guessed that my first Ratoutille would be in England, rather than in France? haha

Given the quality and portion sizes of the dishes above, I found them to be fairly priced. I must also add that we did have to wait quite some time for our dishes but as soon as they arrived, we could understand why. It was visible how carefully they were prepared. Plus, it was totally worth the wait because the food was just excellent and wonderfully presented. So, if you guys happen to be in York and want to eat some good food, I’d totaly recommend this restaurant. 🙂

 

P.S. I apologise for not sharing any pictures of the restaurant itself or of the dish my boyfriend ordered but I guess I was too absorbed in the moment and in my food that I totally forgot.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

2018 Travel Bucket List

Because traveling is a way to get out of the rut and expand our views about the world, I decided that one of my top goals for 2018 would be to “travel more”. Traveling can be such an enriching experience to one’s self as it teaches us to stare down our fears, step out of our comfort zone and build confidence, at the same time that offers us a chance of reconnecting and truly “finding” our true self.

Even though I have lived in three different European countries so far, I have only been to 9 out of the 44 countries of Europe. I have still so much to see and explore! Thus, this year I aim not only to explore more of the countries that I have already been but also travel to countries in which I have never been before. Plus, I need to make good use of the fact of being living in such a central country in Europe: Holland.

England, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany are all countries where I have been several times before. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that there is always something new to see every time you go back to a country (despite visiting new cities or not). Every trip is a new adventure and experience and we would be missing out on life if we chose not to travel.

So, here is my travel bucket list for 2018:

MARCH

England

  • Birchington
  • Ramsgate
  • Ashford
  • London

APRIL

Spain

  • Madrid

JUNE

Portugal

  • Albufeira
  • Lisbon
  • Leiria

Germany

  • Recklinghausen

JULY

England

  • York
  • Harome
  • Terrington
  • Whitby
  • Birchington
  • Margate

Germany

  • Dusseldorf

SEPTEMBER

France

  • Paris

Switzerland

  • Lausanne
  • Geneve
  • Interlaken
  • Zurich

NOVEMBER

Hungary

  • Budapest

DECEMBER

Portugal

  • Leiria
  • Lisbon

I am super excited and very much looking forward to new travel adventures. As Peter McWilliams, once said: “Nothing adventured, noting attained.” ♥

 

Is traveling more part of your 2018 bucket list? What are some of the countries you look forward to visit? Have you been in a trip recently? Please tell me in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A lovely day in London.

 

I travel to the UK quite often, normally to South East England, the seaside of Kent. It is absolutely beautiful there.  However, every time I have the opportunity of going to London, which is where my sis and one of my besties are currently living, I happily take it!

I’d say that London is most probably one of my favourite cities in Europe. Its hustle and bustle, all the amazing free museums and art galleries/exhibitions, the historic architecture and old stunning buildings, the food culture, the black cabs and red buses, its tucked-away shopping streets; its characteristic theatres, old English pubs and coffee shops; the riverside area; the music scene, etc (…). Plus, for a nature lover like me, the fact that you are never be far from a park is just another thing that allures me about this big city! There is always something exciting happening in London and I feel like you can never know the city too well as it is always changing.

I travelled to England about two months ago to visit my boyfriend and we decided to go to London for a day. I though I’d share what we did there as we both had such a great time, despite the grey-ish weather. Plus, as you guys must know by now, I love to talk about all my happy experiences and could not miss this opportunity.

We headed to London early-ish in the morning and shortly after having a quick breakfast at home. My boyfriend had some coffee and toast and I had a bowl of soya yoghurt with berries.

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We had a lovely and smooth train journey and we arrived to London at around 10:30am.

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11pm: Lovely stroll around St. James Park. Okay, the weather might not have been great but it did not prevent us from enjoying the greenery.

 

1pm: First stop – Restaurant Tibits. Since the day started early, when lunchtime came around, my boyfriend and I  were craving some yummy, filling and nourishing food. This vegan lunch just hit the spot! As the planner that I am, I had looked up this restaurant prior heading to London and it did not disappoint one bit. Undoubtedly, one of the best vegan restaurants we have ever been to. Even though it’s a self-service buffet, you can taste just how fresh the ingredients are. This place is seriously a haven of health with a great atmosphere and its wide variety of plant-based (main and dessert!) dishes is to die for.  It might not be the cheapest restaurant in London to get some food but it is certainly worth the money.

2pm: Catch up with my sis over a cup of green tea at the cafe bar at Royal Albert hall (no photos taken). At that time she was finishing her PhD at Imperial College London and undergoing the busiest and most stressful time since she started her studies. I was super glad that she took a break from her PhD thesis to meet us. She was able to take her mind out off it for a couple of hours and we all enjoyed the time we spent together.

 

 

4pm: A walk down Regent Street. Its beautiful architecture towering along both sides of the road amazes me every single time I see it.

 

 

5pm: Tea O’clock. Well, at least for me. Apparently, I am the only one in this relation who is not British but has the habits of someone who is! haha We have also met up one of my best girlfriends, whom I hadn’t seen in over two years, at this lovely English pub. It was so nice to be reunited with her and realise that nothing has changed between us since we both move to different countries. I have missed her so much. Seeing her again has also reminded me of how important is to make the effort to keep our friends close in order to maintain lifelong friendships. ♥

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7:30pm: Musical “Wicked” at Apollo Victoria Theatre. I really enjoyed watching it in the company of my love. I’d say that the narrative and overall performance of all actors and actresses involved is superb. The singing, the dancing, the lovely scenes were kind of magical as well as how the entire story unfolded.

 

All in all, it was a long but oh-so-fulfilling day! It was so nice to build some new and beautiful memories in London, which is the main reason why I love each and every time I go there; whether it is for several weeks in a row or just for a single day.

 

Hope you have enjoyed reading this post! Have you ever been to London? If so, did you enjoy it? What are things that you find most fascinating about the city? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully grateful