Friday, October 6

How to spend 12 hours in Brussels


Brussels is often described as the heart and capital of Europe, housing the European Commission, European Parliament and headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). On our recent trip to Warsaw it actually worked out cheaper to stopover in Brussels for a night on the way home and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't really know what to expect but after spending the day exploring it`s safe to say Brussels is one of the most underrated cities I have visited. The main sites were easy to access and within walking distance of the city centre so it was easy to explore a lot of the city in the short time that we had. Although we were only on a stopover, I wanted to share how we spent 12 hours in the heart of Europe.

10am
The starting point for nearly everyone's trip to Belgium has to be the Grand Place. We headed here for a free walking tour hosted by Sandeman's Europe who offer the best tour by miles where the guides run free tours based on a tips only basis. I find these tours are better because the guides really work for their money and often you'll find they are so passionate about their jobs and the city they live in. Walking tours are also a good way to get your bearings in a new city and tick a lot of places off your list in one go. The tour covers all of the main sighs in the city including the Town Hall, Maison Du Roi, The Stock Exchange, Mannekin Pis and the Royal Palace of Brussels. Starting at the Grand Place we discovered the rich history behind all the different guildhalls which surround the square. Housing the central market until 1959 every single building is beautifully designed and intricately decorated with gold highlights used throughout. Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1998, the square truly is a sight to behold. Next up we headed to Belgium's most famous landmark Mannekin Pis. I have to say this is very much a littler mermaid in Copenhagen experience, just be prepared for the crowds of people trying to get a selfie with this little guy. 

Quinten talked us through the history of the city leading us through the winding streets on a journey of discovery. We strolled inside the Galeries Saint Hubert and gawped at some of the finish chocolatiers in the city. The first female chocolatier Mary still has its first store inside this gallery and pretty much opposite you will find Naerst which are up there as one of the best (along with one of the most expensive). An insider tip we picked up was to head to Godiva which you will find dotted all over the city, who still offer the authentic, quality chocolate we were after but for a much more affordable price. we then headed to the Parc de Bruxelles to learn more about the administrative centre of the European Union and a bit of background behind the capital of the EU before heading to the Royal Palace of Brussels for a whistle-stop tour (located at the South side of the park). Finally we headed to the Place Royale to finish off the tour and grab any last minute recommendations on how to spend the rest of the afternoon. 



1pm 
One place on the top of my list to see was the Mont Des Arts garden which happened to be a stones throw away from the Place Royale and offers up some of the most gorgeous views of the city. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Museum of Musical Instruments which showcases a mixture of Art Nouveau and neoclassical design with its striking facade. We wandered around the gardens before stopping to admire the beautiful scenery and have a little break from the sweltering sunshine. 

2pm 
We headed back towards the main square in search of a typical Belgian delicacy…fries! Its safe to say we were pretty shocked to find out despite their name, French fries origins have in fact been traced back to Belgium in the late 1600s. You will find stores all around offering up cone upon cone of these golden delights but we headed to a highly recommended little friterie called Tabour who offer freshly cut fries alongside over 30 different sauces. If you're after something more adventurous than standard ketchup ask for a recommendation from the staff or try the giants sauce (our tour guide Quinten’s recommendation) which did not disappoint!

 

3pm 
More sightseeing but this time on our list were some of the intricate churches in the city. First up we headed to the Cathedral of St Michael to study the intricately designed facade. The national church of Belgium houses royal weddings and funerals and was given Cathedral status in 1962. Next we headed to the vibrant Sainte-Catherine Square to marvel at the church of St Catherine and stop off for a very much needed caffeine hit at Frederic Blondeel. This vibrant area of the city is the perfect spot for people watching all year round and is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. 

5pm 
Our final stop of the day is the famous Atomium which is now firmly part of the Brussels landscape. Originally eradicated in 1958 for the Brussels World Fair, this is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Out of the different levels, five of the spheres are open to the general public and include exhibitions devoted to architecture, design and society. The topmost sphere offers 360° panoramic views of the city alongside a gourmet restaurant which is open late into the evening. Entrance to the Atomium will set you back €12 but its the perfect way to spend an afternoon exploring the different exhibitions and studying this iconic structure.


7pm 
A trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without an authentic Belgian waffle so we headed off in search of Maison Dandoy. A stones throw away from the Grand Place, this waffle house came highly recommended to us as one of the best in the city (alongside the Waffle factory which is firmly on the list for our next visit). You can tell the quality of the waffles from the divine smell that wafts out onto the street as you head towards the store! I can confirm these are the lightest, crispest waffles I have tasted to date and should be top of your list on a visit to the city. 

7.30pm 
We finished our day with a sample of Belgian beer while we reminisced about our time spent in the capital. I surprised myself at how much we managed to cram into the one day and how much I fell in love with the city. Its safe to say we will definitely be returning as there is so much more to see and I am hoping next time we can make it during the flower carpet which looks absolutely breathtaking!

 

What are your Brussels recommendations? Don't forget to pin this post if you enjoyed it!



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Wednesday, September 6

Hungry in Hungary? What to eat when you're in Budapest

Before visiting the captivating city of Budapest I had researched very little into traditional Hungarian food and had no idea what we could expect from the city. The first time we visited was very hit and miss when it came to meals as we had made absolutely no plans on where to eat and had not looked at any recommendations. We headed to the Great Market Hall where we started to get a real feel for what Hungarian cuisine is all about. Everything from traditional spicy, rich stews to sweet jam filled strudels, you'll find something for the most discerning palette and sweetest tooth. If you`re heading to the city for a long weekend and fancy dining like a local then make sure you don't miss out and try some of these classic Hungarian dishes!


Chicken Paprikash - If there is one thing that Hungarians love its paprika. You won't find a menu that doesn't feature a paprika smothered item and they even have a dedicated souvenir shop in the centre of the city. One of the most famous Hungarian dishes is chicken cooked with lashings of paprika and served with spätzle which is a dumpling style pasta. 

Kolbász (Hungarian Sausage)There are so many different types of Hungarian sausage including cooked, boiled, cured or smoked. They feature in all three meals throughout the day but you'll often find them in stews and soups. If you fancy trying cold cuts then head to the Great Market Hall where if you head upstairs you'll find stores filled with a variety for you to sample. 


Goulash - A rich hearty stew of slow cooked beef, veg and paprika broth, Goulash is another traditional dish you will find all over the city. Look for places that serve this in a giant bread roll with the insides hollowed out and filled with this piping hot stew. Often you'll find this stew is cooked in cauldrons or kettles over open fires as herdsmen would have done many moons ago. This is considered the most authentic way to cook a goulash and many places will only use this method. 


Lagos - The ultimate street food of Budapest you will find Lagos pretty much wherever you go in the city. A deep fried flat dough which is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with very little excess oil. Traditionally lagos is served with sour cream and cheese but you can chose from a wide range of toppings including savoury and sweet. I of course opted for nutella during our pre Buda tour and was not disappointed!


Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács) - Long strips of sugary dough are wrapped around a cone shaped spit and roasted over charcoals. They are brushed with butter which caramelises to form a shiny, crispy crust. Once cooked the spit is removed and steam is released from the centre of the cone like a chimney. You'll find these on every corner during the colder months and the warm, buttery dough will certainly do the trick at warming your cold bones. Opt to try a simple coating of cinnamon or ground walnuts. 


Hungarian Cake - The coffee shops in Budapest form part of the history and if you look hard enough you'll find some intricately decorated delights scattered throughout the city serving sweet treats. A must try is the Dobos torte featuring layers of chocolate buttercream between thin sponge cake topped with glossy caramel. Alternatively opt for the traditional Hungarian Jewish cake Flodni which you will struggle to find outside of the Jewish quarter. 


Rose Gelato - At the corner of St Stephen's Basilica you'll find Gelato Rosa serving up authentic Italian gelato in these delightful rose shapes.There is nearly always a line but they work quickly and as you move along the counter you can watch as they make each edible masterpiece. All the ice cream sold is made on the premises using traditional Italian techniques and they serve a range of flavours including lavender white chocolate, basil lemon, pistachio and variety of sorbets. 

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Wednesday, August 30

Styling the Broderie Blouse 3 Ways


It's so important to be frugal with fashion where you can especially when the trends are constantly changing. I'm currently trying to reduce my frivolous spending as much as I can so I've started shopping my wardrobe and re-styling pieces I already own to match my current style. Of course I have picked up a couple of new pieces here and there but I am trying to only splurge on timeless pieces which will last through the seasons. If you read my last post then you would have seen that I am starting a series on how I style different pieces in my wardrobe to get more wear out of them and so today I decided to focus on the broderie trend after recently splurging on this gorgeous blouse. 

I first saw this blouse style on Emma's Instagram and I fell in love with it immediately. I find this style a lot more wearable than lace especially with the long sleeves and high collar which means I can wear this right through Summer into Autumn by just adding a layer underneath. Coming in at £40 this was a bit a of splurge but this blouse is so versatile and easy to style, its already become a firm favourite in my current wardrobe. 

I wanted to portray how wearable this top is in the 3 looks that I am featuring today. For the first look I opted for a smart style which is work appropriate but can then be worn into the evening. When the weather starts to cool down just throw on a blazer and you`re good to go. For the second look I wanted more of casual look so I paired with a plain pair of denim jeans. Just to give the look a more glam finish I added this stunning pair of wedges and a stylish over the shoulder handbag. For the third and final look I opted for my trusty suede skirt and lace up sandal combo. I am yet to find a blouse that doesn't go with this match made in heaven and I love the overall look. 

 
Look 1:
Blouse - River Island | Trousers & Shoes - Primark | Bag - Shein

 

Look 2:
Blouse - River Island | Jeans - New Look | Shoes - Primark | Bag - Karen Millen

 
Look 3:
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Thursday, August 24

Vospers Woolston


Known as the cruise capital of the world, Southampton has been booming with new restaurants since the opening of the new extension of Westquay Watermark. The city centre is alive with the hustle and bustle of this new complex. But, theres a new development in the city that is on the rise - Centenary Plaza at the Woolston Waterside. First saw the arrival of the beloved Mettricks which has now opened its fifth location in the City and has come a long way since it first opened in 2013. Vospers* was the next to arrive and saw the introduction of a new venture for the Mettricks family. Offering a simple burger menu inspired by local produce and complimented with a delicious selection of cocktails and craft beers. On a late rainy afternoon, myself and several other bloggers headed down to the waterside to check out the new space and sample the menu and a cocktail masterclass firsthand.






 Offering a streamlined menu of around eight different burgers with a variety of different sides including sweet potato fries, slaw, wings and mac'n'cheese, the burgers are priced at a modest £8 with sides extra. For a decent burger I think this is quite fairly priced. I opted for the 1966 burger which included maple cured bacon, oak smoked cheese, beer soaked onions and smokey bbq ketchup! Burgers are something you'll find in pretty much every restaurant you go to, although this doesn't mean that they will be done well. With a focus on offering a unique dining experience, you can tell how much thought and attention has gone into every single item on the menu. There are two vegetarian options, a buttermilk chicken option and the choice of adding on additional toppings to any burger from the menu. All the beef burgers are served pink which just adds to the flavour but if you prefer yours more on the well done side, all you need do is ask. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the decor - often you find burger joints are based on American diners but this place has a real unique character not dissimilar to its successful brother Mettricks. With a strong nautical theme, the menu and decor are steeped in maritime history. There is a clear attention to detail in every single aspect and I especially love the porthole style window on the bathroom door.  

Our mixologist Roger was on hand to answer any questions we had whilst guiding us through the process and making of three different cocktails. We had a real variety of drinks to sample starting with a gin based cocktail, followed by a rum filled delight and finished with a classic Margarita. These were most definitely not for the faint hearted, packing a punch and a whole load of alcohol. Roger's passion and talent really shone through during the class and his enthusiasm really carried through the entire evening. All in all it was such a lovely evening full of friendly staff, tasty cocktails and even tastier food. If you find yourself in this neck of the woods be sure to check out Vospers and keep an eye out for Mettrick's next venture due to open early August... Submarine! 

As always a big thank you to Alice at SotonBloggers and all the guys at Vospers for inviting me and organising such a wonderful evening! 
Complimentary meal with no obligation to review. No affiliation with Vospers. All opinions are my own.
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Friday, August 18

Blog Sale

Recently I decided to have a massive clear-out of my makeup and skincare after realising that I have way too much stuff! I've popped everything into a blog sale to try and get rid of it all as quickly as possible. A lot of is brand new in boxes and the rest I have either only swatched or barely used. If you need anymore information or pictures then please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Rules.
one // if you would like to purchase any items please email me with the subject as blog sale. 
two // I will then send an invoice via paypal for payment within 24 hours. 
three // following payment, all items will be posted within three working days. 
four // postage (not included in the price) will be Royal Mail 2nd Class. If you would like items sent signed for please state this in the email. I cannot be held liable for any items once posted. 
five // postage and packaging costs will be cost price plus packaging costs. 
six // all items are non-returnable and non-exchangeable.
seven // this blog sale is UK only.
eight // all items have been bought by myself and will be sanitised where possible. 
nine // descriptions are as detailed as possible, please do not hesitate to email me for more details. 

1. Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder in Bronze Glow RRP £35 // Swatched, £20
2. Clinique Chubby Stick Highlight in 01 Hefty Highlight RRP £19.50 // Swatched, £10
3. Collection Speedy Highlight in 01 Pearl Sheen // Swatched, £1
4. MUR Radiance Highlighter Palette in Radiant Lights // Swatched, £3
5. ABH Riviera Illuminator Powder RRP £28 // Swatched, £20
6. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal RRP £32 // Swatched, £20

1. Gerard Cosmetics Slay All Day Setting Spray in Peach 100ml RRP £13.50 // 5% used, £7
2. Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Gel Mask 50ml // BN £7
3. Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask 50ml // BN £7
4. Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Cleansing Milk 200ml // 10% used £3
5. Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Spray 100ml // Used once, £3
6. Discontinued Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Fiend // Swatched £10


1. Barry M Get Up & Glow Palette // Used once, £2.50 
2. INIKA Loose Mineral Blush in Blooming Nude 3g RRP £21 // BN £12
3. Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit // Used once, £2.50
4. MUR Blushing Hearts Tripe Baked Blusher in Bursting With Love // Swatched, £2.50
5. MUR Summer of Love Tripe Baked Bronzer in Hot Summer of Love // Swatched £2.50
6. MUR Blushing Hearts Tripe Baked Blusher in Peachy Keen Heart // Swatched, £2.50
7. MUR Goddess of Love Triple Baked Highlighter in Golden Goddess // Swatched, £2.50
8. Rimmel Kate Sculpting Palette in Golden Bronze // Swatched, £3
9. BeautyUK Ultimate Cream Contour Palette // BN £1.50
10. Urban Decay Afterglow Blusher in Bang RRP £21 // Used once, £12 

1. Maybelline Colour 24hr Tattoo in 15 Endless Purple // BN £4
2. Maybelline Colour 24hr Tattoo in 20 Turquoise Forever // BN £4
3. INIKA Mineral Eyeshadow in Gun Metal RRP £16 // BN £8 
4. MUA Pretty Edgy Eyeshadow Palette // BN £2
5. Soap & Glory Perfect Ten Limited Edition Palette // Swtched, £9
6. Kiko Long Lasting Stick Shadow in 46, 49 & 45 // Swatched, £2.50
7. Soap & Glory Archery Brow Pencil in Brownie Points // Used twice , £4
8. ABH Brow Wizz in Dark Brown RRP £15.50 // Used twice, £6 
9. Soap & Glory Smoulder Kohl Eyeliner in Superblack // BN £3
10. Illamasqua Look Fantastic Palette RRP £39 // BN £15
11. Sleek The Rockstars Collection Hidden Gems Palette // BN £3.50
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Saturday, August 12

10 Things I've Learnt Working in an Office


From a young age I've always been taught to work for what you want and as soon as I turned 16 I was eager to start working and earning my own money. My first ever job was in a sports shop where I spent my weekends organising rails and rails of tracksuit bottoms and football shirts, only for some bratty 8 year old to pull it all off and make me start all over again. After this I flitted between various different retail jobs before settling into a pub job in my second year of university. 

I thought once I finished my degree I would have more of an idea of which direction my career was heading in but this was simply not the case. I moved back in my with my parents and stayed within the hospitality sector as this is what I knew and enjoyed. Up until very recently I thought this would be my career and my long term plan was to eventually become a GM of my own site. After completing my training and making it to assistant manager I decided that this was not for me and so I jumped ship to a simple office job. After working in hospitality for nearly 5 years a 9-5 is like a dream come true. No more evenings, no more weekends, I finally have a part of my life back that I felt had been missing for a very long time. Although I don't think I'll ever go back, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, as long as it meant I would end up exactly where I am today. It's now been just over 3 months since I started working in my office and today I thought I would share 10 things I've learn about working in an office so far. 

1. Sitting in a chair staring at a computer all day is the least active job you can do. I've gone from walking about 5 miles a day down to about 1.5 miles a day. The recommended number of steps is around ten thousand and I use to easily hit this running around the restaurant all day. Now I try and walk as much as possible, opting for the stairs over the lift and using any excuse to get out of the office and walk around for 5 minutes. 

2. I've mastered the art of looking busy and boy am I a pro. Kind of like when you do the hazard perception part of a theory test and you click every few seconds just to make sure you don't miss anything. A click of the mouse here, a tap of a few keys there and bob's your uncle! 

3. Offices have this backwards etiquette that on your birthday you bring in cake for everyone else? I still don't understand why this is- surely everyone should be buying me cake on my birthday not vice versa? Although I don't understand this rule, I am certainly not complaining as there seems to be some kind of sugary delight every other week in my place!

4. This brings me to my next point. I spend 75% of my working day eating! I have breakfast and lunch and then spend the rest of the day snacking on various treats - whatever I can get my hands on really. We even have 4pm snack time in my office just to see you through that last hour before home time. It's all well and good on days when I'm prepared and I've taken fruit and raisins or veggies and dip, but on the off days I've forgotten, I usually end up raiding the vending machine. Although I am blessed with a high metabolism, I still try to eat healthy and reduce the amount of sugar I am eating. These vending machine days totally screw that up and mixed with how not active the job is, this can be a disastrous recipe for those not as lucky as me. 

5. As soon as I got promoted in my old job I rejoiced at no longer having to wear the awful, awful uniform. That was until I got home and realised I had absolutely diddly squat to wear. When working in the restaurant, it was more often that not I would go home with various food and drink debris all over myself but that doesn't happen in an office. In fact I would almost go as far as to say I miss having a uniform so I don't need to worry about what I am going to wear everyday. At first I just wore the same five tops on rotation to see what other people wore and get some ideas, but now I've raided my mums wardrobe and got some inspiration. My workwear wardrobe is now full of colour, prints and even a couple of summer dresses thrown in for good measure. 

6. In the office world you know shit just got real when they've removed the 'kind' from their 'kind regards'.

When you`re furious with a supplier or another employee, the best thing to do is remove the 'kind' from your 'kind regards'

7. The first time I was left on my own I was absolutely petrified I would do something wrong or completely screw something up. I successfully lasted the afternoon with the business still intact and I am now quite happy to be left on my own to get on with what I need. Especially when it's after a night of one too many cocktails and I've spent the morning trying not to spew everywhere every time I move. 

8. Your working environment can have such an impact on your mentality without you even realising. By the time I left my old job it had become such a horrible place to work with toxic people and an unpleasant environment for most. In all honesty I had been unhappy and looking for a change for a while, but one day I just had enough and within a week I'd handed in my notice ready to move onto the next chapter. Now that I am settled in my new job and my new routine, I can feel the difference in myself and I've had tons of people notice the positive change in me. 

9. You don't always have to be friends with people that you work with but it does help. I am lucky enough to share my office with one my oldest friend who actually helped me get the job, so this of course this is an added bonus. But this is often not the case. Watch who you confide in as you don't want to splurge all your personal business to the office gossip. I tend to keep myself to myself and only share very little of my personal life. There's always going to be that one co-worker who irritates the hell out of you - but just remain professional and polite and remember you only have to see these people at work and not in your own time. 

10. Don't be too hard on yourself. Everybody was new once and everybody had to learn the ropes just like you did. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help, even if it may seem stupid, It's better to clarify if you're not sure than to just make it up. Starting a new job can be scary and daunting, especially if its out of your comfort zone and completely new. Be patient and stick at it and it could end up being very rewarding. 
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Sunday, August 6

The Ultimate Budapest Travel Guide


Budapest (pronounced Buda-peSHt) is fast becoming the place to be. Fancy a life of luxury without spending a fortune? Head to Hungary and you won't be disappointed. Whether your after a relaxing weekend at the spa, a weekend of shopping and fine dining, or a weekend of exploration and discovery - Budapest has all this to offer and more. In the high season prepare for sweltering temperatures and glorious sunshine whereas in the cooler months prepare for minus degrees and lots of snow. Budapest is beautiful to visit all year round so today I thought I would share with you my ultimate guide to visiting this breathtaking city. 

How to get Around
Once you arrive at the airport you have a couple of options. You can book a transfer in advance, grab a taxi or hop on the 200E airport bus which takes you to the nearest Metro station Kobanya Kispet. From there hop on the M3 (blue line) which takes you right into the centre of Budapest where you can change to the M1 (yellow line) or M2 (red line) if needed. A single use tickets costs 350 Forint which is about a £1 and you can pick these up from ticket vending machines at the airport and every metro station. Make sure you remember to validate each ticket you buy or you could face a fine if caught. Depending how much you intend to use public transport you can buy a 24 hour travel card for just under £5, a 72 hour travel card for around £15 or a block of ten single use tickets for about £10 and these can be used on all buses, trams and trains operating within the City centre. 

It is possible to walk in between everything it, just depends on your personal preference. The last time we visited we only used the tram a handful of times so we opted for the block of ten single use tickets. We ended up walking all over the city so make sure you pack comfortable shoes and stay hydrated. If you`re time in Budapest is limited and you`re new to the city one of the best options may be a hop-on hop-off tour ticket. On our first trip we opted for a 48 hour ticket which offered two bus routes, a night tour, a boat line and a walking tour for around £22 pp. This was a quick and easy way to see everything we wanted to see in the short space of time we had. If you`re on a budget opt for the cheapest option of all - walking! Just make sure you pack those shoes as we ended up walking over 10 miles everyday!


Where to sleep
Budapest is full of affordable, cheap hotels and it also hosts a wide range of hostels which offer both dorm rooms or private en-suite rooms if sharing isn’t your thing. The first time we visited we had no idea about areas or the best place to stay so we just picked one of the cheapest options we found which turned out to be ok, if quite far out from the centre. If you plan to spend the weekend partying away with friends then check out the Full Moon Design Hostel which offers free entry into the Morrisons 2 Club located in the same building throughout your stay. If you`re looking for somewhere more central try Lavender Circus which is beautifully decorated by hand and offers a quiet, more relaxed base for your trip. If you prefer something more luxurious I've heard amazing things about the Four Seasons Gresham Palace or Corinthia Hotel which both offer incredible views of the city of Budapest.
 

Where to eat
When it comes to food there are hundreds of incredible restaurants to try as with most cities. Head to Ráday Utca which is filled with indoor and outdoor cafes, bars, restaurants and galleries. There's something for every price range and every taste, its here we managed to pick up a two course meal and a bottle of wine for under £35. You'll also find Budapest's first restaurant to receive a Michelin star Costes on Ráday Utca so there's a whole host of places to suit all. If you`re after more casual dining head to the Great Market Hall where upstairs you'll find an array of different food stands and eateries. 

If street food is more your style head to Kazinczy Street where you'll find the first street food court Karaván Budapest. You'll find a little bit of everything including unusual pizzas and burgers to typical Hungarian treats such as lagos, goulash and Kürtóskalács (chimney cake). You can pick up a hearty meal for two here but make sure you check out all the stands before you decide otherwise you'll be left with a serious case of food envy. If you`re meeting up with a group of friends then Gozsdu Udvar is where you need to head. Described as Budapest's entertainment district, this series of inner courtyards is filled with restaurants, pubs, and bars. This place comes alive every evening filled with edgy nightlife and international cuisine. 


Where to drink 
If you`re heading to Budapest theres a high chance you've already heard of their famous romkocsma (ruin bars). Shaping the city's nightlife, you can't visit this city without experiencing a ruin bar for yourself. Szimpla Kert was one of the first and has now become one of the most well known between locals and tourists alike. Offering a whole programme of unique events including live music, exhibitions, workshops, an open air cinema, live DJ sets and even a farmer's market every Sunday. Another favourite is Fogosház which has recently merged with Impact creating an underground, techno lovers dream. There are plenty of tours you can go on around the Jewish Quarter which visit several different ruin bars but I think the best way to explore them is wander on your own and see what you stumble upon.

If you`re after a pitstop during the daytime be sure to check out one of Hungary's many coffee houses and try one of the yummy cakes. In Buda you'll find the oldest family-run cake shop in the city Ruszwurm which has been operating since 1827. During the warmer months its a fight to grab a seat outside but during Winter its a lot easier to find a table in the snug inner room. On the Pest side you'll find possibly the most beautiful coffee house to ever exist the New York Cafe. Offering a fine range of coffees, treats and Hungarian specialities, this is a must see for any coffee lover. 



Where to shop
If shopping is your vice head to Váci Utca which is Budapest's alternative to Oxford Street. This pedestrian precinct is filled with all the usual high street suspects and many many more. If you`re feeling extravagant head to Andrássy Avenue where you'll find all the designer brands and upmarket boutiques including the likes of Burberruy, Guicci and Louis Vuitton. Budapest is also home to Central Europe's largest shopping mall, WestEnd City Center. This houses over 400 shops! Make sure you pop into the roof garden for a pitstop along the way.

Shopping is usually quite far down on our list when we go away but I always like to pick up a couple of souvenirs along the way. In the Great Market Hall you'll fid an array of leather goods, lace and embroidery alongside the usual touristy tat. If you`re after something more authentic head to one of Budapest's flea markets like Ecseri Market where you can scout out a whole host of trinkets and treasures or try your hand at antiquing on Falk Milksa Street. 



What to see
On the West side of the ride you'll find the narrow, hilly streets of Buda which wind themselves up into the hills. Full of beautiful churches, monuments and old buildings, Buda also houses the Castle District which was the former Royal Palace of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Must see sites on this side of the Danube include the Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion and the views from Citadella. 

On the east side of the River you'll find the urban centre of the city Pest which is broken down into several districts. Home to the world's third largest Parliament Building, this neo-gothic spectacular should be at the top of everyone's list. Breathtaking both at night and day, you simply cannot visit Budapest and not see this gorgeous building. Other must see sites include the Jewish Quarter, St. Stephen's Basilica, the Chain Bridge, Hero's Square and Szechenyi Thermal Baths.


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