Budapest: A Snapshot Guide

Long gone are the days when Budapest was a hidden treasure in Eastern Europe – Art Nouveau architecture, eclectic nightlife and epic baths combine to make Budapest a stunning destination travellers flock to from all over the globe.

I arrived to Budapest with my friend in the darkness of the night. We roamed around the inner-city area searching for our hostel when we finally found our place. Our friendly Australian ex-pat hostel owner commanded us instantly to “Dump your bags, mate, I’m taking you to the ruin bars.” And on that bombshell we visited the romkocsmas (ruin pub) and began our whirlwind tour of the enigmatic city.

Szimpla, the first romkocsma in Budapest is a stunning must visit bar that you must visit if you’re participating in the cities indulgent nightlife. Filled with nooks of graffiti and other bizarre entities, Szimpla embodies everything Budapest nightlife has to offer – charm, charisma and Pálinka.

Szimpla - Budapest

After a night of revelry, there’s only one thing to do in Budapest, soak in one of the many baths dotted around the city.

The two iconic spas are the Gellèrt and Széchenyi Thermal Bath should be on your to-do list when visiting Budapest. The latter can be found in City Park, founded 1913 in neo-baroque style. You can admire the lavish orange exterior, whilst lapping up the sunrays musing at the animated locals playing chess in the water. They are the quintessential Budapest attraction you must experience.

baths

If you’re a culture vulture, like myself… A day on the other side of the river at Buda is a must. Where you can visit Castle Hill – a culmination of the cities cultural sights. The Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion showcase the gothic architecture of Budapest. All situated on the hill overlooking Pest, giving you panoramic views over the city.

castle

What is better way of unwinding after a long day of being tourist, than being at the head of a jäger train, heading straight towards your mouth?

Grandio Party hostel was the second hostel my friend and I decided to stay (survive) in and epitomised the party spirit of the city, offering us a truly memorable stay. I would highly recommend. If you’re that way inclined, that is.

Baths, bars, and beautiful architecture – Budapest has it all to offer and no longer goes unnoticed. Budapest welcomes you with open arms to visit Hungary and embrace it, the way it will undoubtedly entrap you with it’s tremendous charm.

Budapest had charmed me. It welcomed us with open arms, tempted us in and entrapped us with its tremendous charm.

Egészségedre. Cheers!

Castles Made of Sand: A Foodie Guide of Morocco

When I think about Morocco, I think about Jimi Hendrix visiting in 1969, lounging in a typical Moroccan café pondering over his lyrics, writing ‘Castles Made of Sand’, gazing over the souks and desert backdrops. But what often goes unsaid is the rich, exciting cuisine that Morocco is world famous for.

Tagines

Morocco – a beautiful country with extraordinary people and magnificent food is a rewarding experience for anyone to encounter, with a combination of great weather and diversity you can get a lot out of visiting this exotic place. I discovered my love for Moroccan food on my first visit, the balance of sweet spices, pastries and clay oven cooking encapsulated my senses and imagination. As a young traveller, the Moroccan cuisine excited me to learn more and to take my experiences back to England and to take you on a journey of the food of this wonderful country.

I feel it suitable to start my ramblings on the cuisine by first mentioning the tagine; the pinnacle of Moroccan cooking and most recognised dish of the country. The art of the tagine is in the way it is cooked: named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in, it slowly stews to create a variety of exquisite flavours. My first experience of the tagine was down a backstreet somewhere in Marrakesh, the heart of Moroccan cuisine, and it was the first of many. The slow –cooked dish is famous for its spice and tender meats and has made its way into kitchens all over the world. The tagine itself is an odd-looking device made from clay, keeping all the spices inside. You can order tagines at almost all Moroccan restaurants, but finding a good one is however, relatively difficult. Head towards the Djemaa El-Fna, the cultural hub of Marrakesh, with snake-charmers and herb merchants – it truly captures everything wonderful about Morocco. In the square you can find authentic Moroccan restaurants serving the best tagines in Marrakesh and other interesting vendors selling divine street-food.

As well as the tagine there are many other delicious foods from Morocco that are definitely worth a mention in this whirlwind tour of Moroccan cuisine. The tangia; the tagines single, bachelor friend, is a hugely popular dish that is cooked similarly to the tagine, but in a longer and narrower cooking dish. The tangia is famous for its simple cooking method, which makes it popular for the bachelor men of Morocco. The tender meat infused with the Moroccan spices is an award winning combination and should be tasted at all costs.

Moroccan desserts should never be dismissed either.  Sipping an espresso at a bumbling cafe whilst munching on a kfeta can’t be missed. The Moroccan pastries and cakes are heavenly; finger-food at its finest. They take full advantage of dates, yoghurts and almond to create bite-size treats, and they are perfect on-the-run food.

Moroccan Pastries

A fine example of the Moroccan pastry is the ktefa, a traditional Moroccan pastry, made from warqa pastry, layered with sweet fried almonds, crème anglaise and scented with orange. The Moroccan pastries symbolise how the country likes to eat – in cafe’s chatting informally whilst indulging their delights into the fine food.  Next time you think of Morocco, don’t just think about camels, souks and beaches. Think about the rich cuisine infused by French cooking, which has lead to a creation of interesting, gorgeous and complex foods. Any foodie or traveller visiting Morocco should throw themselves in at the deep end, try all sorts of street foods and be taken on a wonderful culinary journey.