V.1 of what will probably end up being a very long list of places/activities I’ve enjoyed thus far in Budapest:
- Budapest Jazz Club: as someone who played classical piano for 11 years (badly) but hasn’t really touched the instrument since my last lesson four years ago, the jazz piano show I saw definitely struck a chord (heh) with me. I was reminded of everything I loved and hated about playing the instrument – what I disliked most was the panic and eventual freezing up that set in when I made a mistake. I would get so flustered that I’d forget what I had spent weeks memorizing. Contrarily, jazz jam sessions are so spontaneous, nothing is scripted, and awkward transitions are part of the art (and life… ooh). There are also free open jam sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10pm, and Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30pm!
- Running on Margitsziget (Margaret Island): I run because I know I’ll always feel better after a good run, not because I enjoy the act of running itself. Absurdly enough, I enjoy the actual act of running on Margitsziget, lungs on fire, sweat dripping into my eyes, and all. There’s a 3.3 mi. track that goes all the way around the perimeter of the island with a full view of the Danube for the entirety of the loop, and most of it is shaded by trees. Run across the bridge to the island, too, for more killer views.
- Coffee Cat & Belgian Waffle Home: small but chill places to grab a bite to eat/sip coffee and get work done/hang out near Oktagon/my apartment. Coffee Cat closes pretty early at 4pm, but the owner is super nice and lets you stay while he cleans up shop. He also entertains my atrocious attempts at speaking Hungarian. Belgian Waffle Home offers student discounts and (no surprise here) insanely delicious waffles.
- Secret Key & 360 Bar: true to its name, Secret Key (Pótkulcs in Hungarian) is a super low key ruin pub that’s tucked away on a back street with nothing distinguishing its entrance from someone’s private backyard. 360 is a rooftop bar that caters much more to tourists, is a little overpriced and understaffed during busy hours, but it’s still admittedly pretty cool because the views and ambience are hard to find elsewhere.
- Vintage/secondhand shops: Humana Vintage (by Astoria) and Maggie’s are the best ones I’ve found so far that optimize low price and reasonably good selection, but the options are endless in this city. Some stores are underwhelming and feel a little contrived though – Cream is a chain that carries a lot of outdated fast-fashion, and Szputnyik has a bit of a “try-hard trendy” vibe. RetroRock Vintage takes the cake for being the most artfully curated, but it’s more of a window shopping experience.
- Eating langos: try all the Hungarian foods, but definitely try langos. It’s literally fried dough with your choice of toppings (usually some combination of cheese, sour cream, and meat), and it will make your taste buds and soul happy.