We decided to combine the food from our final three European cities into one post. While the cuisines were different, you may notice some similarities.
Goulash and pickled cabbage.
Sausage, mustard, bread, beer. Truly enhanced by the cardboard plate. Lemony túrós táska pastries for dessert.
A typical food vendor’s stall at the Great Market Hall.
Bacon wrapped cheese.
Purely medicinal. (Think of a more herbal, concentrated version of Jaegermeister.)
We did spend six weeks with some Aussies. It was inevitable.
Roast pork with stewed spinach and dumplings.
Chicken-bacon-veg skewer on a baguette.
Potatoes, cabbage, sausage, stewed in dark beer.
Goulash in bread bowl.
Pork neck, parsley potatoes, homemade pickles.
Goulash (mostly liver, some beef) and dumplings.
Dumplings with carmelized onions.
Skvarková pomázanka pečivo – an oniony spread made with “scratchings” (fat).
Massive banana and Nutella palačinky.
Some sort of rotisserie doughnuts sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
Grizzly pivo from Pivovar Berounský Medved.
Currywurst with fries.
…after that cholesterol endurance marathon, we were done with the “authentic” food and moved on to Berlin’s multicultural cuisine. We’re sure Germany has much more to offer than a weiner swimming in some spicy ketchup, but it was time for other things.
Fresh breakfasts at Cafe V.
Roasted eggplant and falafel.
Schwarma, hummus, salad, falafel.
Tofu and veg.
Rocket, feta and tomato gozleme wraps from the Turkish market.
Dessert? Candy coated grapes, also from the Turkish market.
Carrot cake and cappuccino.
Budapest stood on its own as an endless fount of discovery and gritty beauty, but what made it really special was that we stayed at Mandala Hostel. Our friend Leah found the place, and we ended up there with her after being unimpressed with our first I-know-you’re-checking-in-at-11p.m.-but-we’re-not-sure-which-beds-are-free-and-also-we-forgot-to-hang-the-clean-bedsheets-out-to-dry hostel.
Living at Mandala is basically like living at your friend’s apartment. If your friend put a bunch of beds and a loft in their living room. Another key component was that the group of people who happened to be there at the time, were all lovely and interesting and conscientious and it felt like we had our own little family group.
Some days we would just sit around and make tea and talk on the courtyard balcony, or on the sofa. Some nights we would all go out to the neighborhood ruin-pub for some traditional (and not-so-traditional) Hungarian folk music.
So we ended up staying a lot longer in Budapest than we originally intended. It was a good thing.
That’s right, Budapest. (The s makes a “sh” sound in Hungarian.) We were considering the cost of train tickets from Maribor to Prague or to Budapest, and Budapest won. It turned out that return ticket was actually cheaper than one-way, so we reasoned we would probably run across someone who was on their way to Slovenia and we could sell them our return segment. The beauty of not planning ahead and having more time than money is that you can look at each other, say “why not Budapest?”
One great thing that happened back in Maribor is that we picked up a stray Australian named Leah. We met her briefly at our last guesthouse, then we were pleasantly surprised to find her sitting on the platform waiting for the train to Budapest. She was traveling Europe solo in between high school and college and had all the spunky free spirit you’d expect from an 18 year old, blended with mature and nurturing qualities that always made us forget that we’re closer to twice her age. Leah’s friend Sky, an equally sweet person whom she met the month prior in Turkey, flew from Rome to join us a few days later. The four of us soon became a traveling family and we had heaps of fun with our newly adopted sisters.
The ride from Maribor to Budapest was our favorite train trip so far. We had the entire compartment to ourselves, and we reclined all the seats and chatted and read our books and ate our snacks for the next eight hours. Hungary looks a lot like Iowa, and it was easy to pretend that we were not in Europe at all and instead traveling on the hopefully-someday-soon-to-be-reality Iowa passenger rail route.
Budapest! The glorious merger of the cities Buda and Pest on either side of the Danube. We were always looking up at the architecture and finding it looking back down at us.