A Travellerspoint blog

Budapest - Michelin Star and Escape Rooms

all seasons in one day 22 °C

Feeling slightly better then yesterday I shot over to the Spar supermarket which is across the road from our hostel and bought a few essentials including breakfast items and an umbrella as it had been raining on and off. We joined a bunch of Koreans at the dining table and devoured our breakfast of strawberries and yogurt.
Today's first port of call was the Hospital in the rock - Nuclear bunker museum (Sziklakórház). Thankfully they had a tour in English which was easy to follow. The hospital in the rock was made in the caves/tunnels underneath the Buda Castle in the 1930's in preparation for the second world war. It was designed to care for 60-70 patients but at one point in the war, during the siege of Budapest, it housed 600 people. There was no food and water at points and sometimes supplies ran out which meant the doctors and nurses had to cut the bandages off dead patients, sterilize them as best they could and reuse them.
In the 60's, with the cold war looming, it was re-purposed into a nuclear bunker that could hold 200 doctors and nurses from the nearby hospital. If a bomb came their way the nurses and doctors had a certain amount of time to get there and would be shut in for some time after which they would be able to don the radiation suits and go out to search for survivors which could be brought back and treated here. They now don't think the museum could withstand a nuclear blast as it is only 18 meters underground. We took a couple of sneaky pictures as photography was technically not allowed. They have wax figurines recreating scenes from the siege in the 40's.
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We then headed back over to Pest to try out an escape room. An escape room is basically like playing a computer game but in real life. You start off in one room where you have to find clues and solve puzzles/riddles to unlock more rooms, clues etc which will help you to escape.... kind of like Hugo's house of horrors in real life. We arrived at Locked and the only room not booked till late that night was the hardest room they had. We signed up for the "Secret Lab", stowed our gear in a locker and walked into the challenge room. Nec minnut... the door shut behind us and we were locked in. Once things fell into place it was super exiting unlocking cabinets, boxes, secret doors etc. We got very close to finishing the course in the hour but didn't disarm the bomb in time and.... got blown up with the secret lab. We absolutely loved it and wanted to try another room.

We raced home and prettied up as tonight we were dining at a Michelin Star restaurant called Borkonya WineKitchen. We arrived on time and took our seats at an table outside. The food was incredible!
We were given a basket of bread which included squid ink dyed bread, bread with Carraway seed and almond and raisin bread. They were all delicious!
For entree Louise got pigeon breast and rilette with wild broccoli and apricot puree which was delicious and I got pressed pig ears with cumin seed wafer and beet textures.
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For mains Louise got quail breast and chicken breast with colorful mixed carrots and cottage cheese pasta dyed with squid ink... she really struggled with the pasta as it looked like sloppy droppings. 😂 I had pork tenderloin with wild mushrooms and wild boar cheeks. We also tried a few local red wines...
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Having found nothing of interest in the desert section we tried out some Hungarian Palinka which is pretty much the same as Italian grappa. Louise got sour cherry and I got plum... however neither one of them had any flavour except lots of alcohol.
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With our stomachs contented our minds raced with what to do next and before we knew it we were on our way back to Locked to try another escape room. This time we chose the Surgery room and had an hour to work out the code to exit. It was still fun, but not quite as cool as the secret lab. This room felt a little disjointed and once again... we were at the point of figuring out the code to exit the room when our time expired. You can have up to 5 people in a room to complete it within 1 hour however given that Louise and I figured out different things to one another a nother person would probably helped! Feeling a little jilted we headed home to retire for the night.

Posted by loueeezo 12:47 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Vienna to Budapest

overcast 22 °C

Today was a day that we have been especially looking forward to!!! We got up feeling better through a long nights rest, packed our bags and headed out in search of Hot Rod Tours Vienna. In Vienna you can register and drive pretty much anything on the road and this was the only reason we had come here... LITERALLY! According to the weather forecast which I had studied in depth yesterday we were due rain and thunderstorms at any moment but thankfully the weather looked pretty awesome so the tour would likely go ahead.
After following what we thought were the directions we eventually asked some locals and were told to head back the way we had come. With urgency now in our stride we walked the same ground we had just walked, past our street and arrived at the Hot Rods Tours office a couple of minutes late. We kitted up and headed down to the 5th floor of an underground car park where our hot rods were parked.
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Having placed our ear pieces over our ear and round into it secret service style we donned our helmets and hopped into our carts. As the engines were cold we zoomed around the parking lot 2 times to warm up the engines and give us a feel of how to drive them and then headed up the all 5 levels round and round till we reached the boom which we ducked under and headed out onto the public road following our guide. Due to the noise of the engines we couldn't quite make out what we were being told by the guide and it wasn't that much better when we were stopped... But I really didn't care as it wasn't the sights I came to see! We were driving glorified go karts without seat belts at up to 63kph on public roads past cars, buses and trucks and it was SO MUCH FUN!!! People everywhere would stop and wave, take pictures etc which made us feel like celebs!

(It is a bit long winded as I havn't had a chance to edit it yet)
The tour lasted about 2 hours by which time we had seen most of the sights of Vienna so we headed back to the garage. With heavy hearts we fare welled these wonderful machines and went in search of some breakfast and got a salad and bun from a bakery as well as a chocolate muffin with soft nutellary goodness down the middle and what I thought was a chocolate croissant.. Boy was I disappointed when I found out it wasn't chocolate!!!

We went back to the apartment, collected our bags and Uber'd to the station which just so happened to be the west version of the station we wanted. We boarded a tram to transfer to the central HBF station and the further we went the more like the deep west Auckland it felt like! Exiting the train at the central station was a breath of fresh air! We shopped for a few minutes at the station before boarding our train headed for Budapest. The trip itself was reasonably uneventful and we arrived in good time at Budapest's main train station. Using the trains WiFi i called a Uber which we had no luck finding and eventually hailed a taxi who dropped us off at the door of our hostel.
We felt like we were in the ghetto and I asked the taxi driver to reconfirm. He hopped out and showed me the hostel name on the door. Worried we had made the wrong decision we crammed ourselves and our bags into the tiny lift and pressed the button for the secondo floor. Arriving at our hostel we were greeted by the most lovely lady, Andrea, who erased any feelings of woe we had and showed us to our private room which was cool as it was spit level.
After ditching our bags we headed out in search of a good dinner option. Wandering down a long alley across from our hostel we found an Italian restaurant called Bocanova Centro which we decided on. We went up to the second level as the outside was getting a bit cold. We ordered a garlic bread which, when it turned up, was different to anything I've ever seen or tried before. It was a stone baked garlic focaccia bread in a round dish with a really nice parmesan sauce, raw red onion and parsley and it was YUM! Louise had a carbonara and I had a dish called Spaghetti Boca Nova which was spicy and had smoked beef as well as an array of other ingredients. we washed this all down with a couple of glasses of Hungarian red wine each plus a sour cherry lemonade and it only came to approx $50 NZ.

Posted by loueeezo 21:49 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Prague to Vienna

Well... today was a bit of a blah day! Due to a couple of unfortunate events we ended up missing our train and had to buy new tickets. We boarded the RJ 77 Antonín Dvořák train and I began to feel a bit pants! We had managed to book an activity, which i will tell you about in tomorrow's entry, for 6pm and were still hoping to make it even with the lateness of the train. If everything went well we could be there on time.

We arrived into Vienna at around 5:09pm and requested an Uber and waited and waited and realized that Uber's GPS had us in a different location. We re-requested an Uber which turned up and took us to our apartment. We were a little late arriving there and to our surprise found no one there waiting to meet us. With my battery at 3% and Louise's phone dead, coupled with no internet we waited for some time and eventually I went in search of free WiFi to try and email the lady who was meant to meet us. Having no luck we went for a wander in search of food and drink and I was feeling more and more pants by the minute. After about 30 minutes of walking we fell across a diner so we sat down and ordered some drinks and food whilst using their free WiFi. I finally, with 1%battery left, managed to WhatsApp her and she agreed to meet us at 7:45 at the apartment. We finished up our dinner at what turned out to be a odd eatery run by odd people. Everything on the menu seemed to be offal-type food and it was served by a waitress who was mutton dressed as lamb. We were provided sauce sachets which we later found out were not included in the meal price and had to be paid for.

We then headed back to our apartment and thankfully, this time the lady met us there and took us through the apartment. I carried the suitcases up the stairs to the 3rd floor. With both of us not feeling too flash, me running a temperature and also being too late for our tour we flicked on the TV for a bit only to have every channel speaking in German. I know that's what you'd expect in a German-speaking country but still. We retired early in the hope that the sleep would fix any issues we were experiencing. :)

Posted by loueeezo 02:33 Comments (0)

Prague

semi-overcast 17 °C

Today we were going to book a free walking tour but, after bumping into a segway tour person, changed our minds and booked a segway tour instead. We then headed over to the astronomical clock, counted down as it reached the hour mark and watched it as it completed it's hourly display. It was installed in 1410 making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world. Death, represented by a skeleton, rings a bell and the other characters move their heads from side to side signifying their unreadiness to go. Two small doors open and the twelve apostles march past the door. We were told a story that the clock maker was asked to build another clock bigger and better by a king of another country and the Czech royalty heard of it. They then had his eyes put out so he could not build another clock and as revenge he went back and messed with the mechanism which stopped the clock from working. It took 1000 years before someone fixed it.
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As our segway tour wasn't meant to start for a couple of hours we scanned the area for a place to get brunch and checked out the street food stalls before deciding on one that was selling a potato, ham and sauerkraut dish, mild type of bratwurst and hunks of ham. Prices were shown per 100 grams and looked pretty cheap however as I waited I watched the look of surprise on customer after customers face when the bill came to just shy of 1000 Korunas which is approx $60 NZ. I also saw how much people were throwing out as they were getting so much so I asked for 200 grams of the potato concoction to which the reply was "We only sell a serve. It is neither big nor small, it is just a serve". So I got one bowl instead of two and didn't bother with the huge hunk (serve) of ham as that was where a lot of people where getting fleeced. These street sellers were cleaning up!!!
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We stood at a table and ate our food while homeless people searched the bins recovering hunks of ham etc. We didn't quite finish ours so I offered it to one of the more polite homeless guys who was chuffed... especially so when I offered him the rest of my beer.

As it was supposed to rain in the next couple of hours and we still had some time we went for a small twenty minute tour in a horse drawn carriage enjoying the old town city scape to the clip clop of the horses hooves which echoed down cobbled streets.
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We arrived back at the main square in perfect time to meet the guy and begin our tour. After a few runs up and back on the segway we were all good to go. We headed out around the old part of the city stopping off here and there to admire the views and learn more of the local history as well as a few local legends. We stopped off at a local monastery which had made beer for the Czech royal family and tried some of their beer before heading back again. By the time we got back Louise and I were rather proficient at using our segways.
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After a bit more of a peruse of the town we began a search for some of the local foods stopping at a bar. I ordered smoked ribs and Louise got wings with chips. The food was average to say the the least and the funniest part was that Louise got her chicken wings served on top of a bowl of salted plain potato chips/crisps ... i.e eta potato chips, not french fries as thought. On top of average food we once again enjoyed the familiar smells of stagnant sewerage with a dash of rotting corpse thrown in much like the wafts we had smelt in Russia which helped make our average dinner that much better...

Posted by loueeezo 14:05 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

St Petersburg to Prague

sunny 22 °C

We had our things packed in pretty good time as we both still wanted to check out the remaining Faberge eggs which we could find in the Faberge museum. With time of the essence we requested an Uber using the hostel's WiFi and by the time the second guy found us I was thinking it may have been quicker to have just walked. We purchased our tickets, donned our shoe covers and headed up the stairs of the Faberge museum to find out everything we could about the Faberge eggs. Here are a couple of our favourites.
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Once our mission was complete, having no internet and taxi drivers not interested in such a short fare we walked at a brisk pace back to our hostel to get packed up and call a taxi. While we were waiting for the airport taxi I headed down to the local grocery store which was also found below the pavement in a building approximately 50 square metres in size. I raced round and grabbed the items essential for an all round brunch. I grabbed a bag of sausage flavoured chips, a bag of spring onion chips and a bottle of water and coke. I figure that as the chips were sausage flavoured it was a bit like bangers and mash in a bag... just crunchier! We finished this off with spring onion chips which were the second vegetable component of our brunch.
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We arrived at the airport in record time as the taxi driver was on a pre-arranged rate and wanted to get back to the city. Thankfully leaving Russia was a lot easier for Louise than it was arriving. We headed upstairs to Burger King and when I saw the menu board I began to grin. After waiting in line for ages I bought a cup of beer and chicken wings for lunch and Louise got a 6 pack of nuggets, fries and an iced tea. Knowing that the beer came from Burger King made it that much more enjoyable!!! :-)
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We boarded our Czech airlines plane which reminded me of a Jetstar airline and set off to Prague. It was pretty smooth until our descent which was a bit like a basket ball in a pro league game and we could see fork lightning in the distance. When we landed, the plane erupted with applause. As we went through customs we heard that other flights were being delayed due to the impending thunderstorm. With free airport WiFi I requested an Uber and moments later we were picked up in a new classy black Merc with full leather interior which was pretty awesome!

With our bags offloaded in our room we headed down to the old town square for a look see. We decided on Italian and grabbed some really nice Italian red wine, a tasting platter and two pastas which we ended up eating on Sunday night as the tasting platter was a mite bigger than we had expected. The tasting platter consisted of prosciutto and two other salamis, cheese, olives, caper berries, grilled zucchini and grilled capsicum.

Posted by loueeezo 02:39 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

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