Hot mulled wine. Goulash in bread bowls. Warm apple cider. Stuffed cabbage. Potato pancakes. Sausage for miles. Hot, grilled, sugary chimney cake. Roasted goose thighs. Salmon roasting/smoking on vertical planks. Rooster testicles in tomato sauce. Budapest’s Christmas market sells all this — something like 20 food stalls just in the main market in Vorosmarty Square. And all of this food is surrounded by 30ish craft stalls where artisans sell their crafts: childrens’ toys, scarves, jewelry, music boxes, nifty casseroles for, say, winter cassoulet, and beautiful, colorful marzipan candies stacked on top of each other.
We really loved Budapest when we visited in August. Damaged extensively in World War II, it’s been rebuilt into a beautiful city that is easy to navigate, has good parks, playgrounds, coffee and beer … and its Christmas markets are ranked 4th best in all of Europe. We really wanted to see a proper Christmas market in full swing, so Budapest was our first stop on our Christmas holiday trip. It was beautiful.
We stayed quite near the main market in Vorosmarty Square so we walked in and around it several times in our day and a half trip. And funny enough, everywhere we turned, there were Greeks! And lots of Americans. We sat next to a nice couple at lunch on Saturday from Athens in this tiny little restaurant (10 tables) where you go get your coffee at the sister stand across the alley and bring it back to your table. We took a ferris wheel ride and played at a park. Saturday night we walked between Vorosmarty Square and the ‘smaller’ market in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (site of Peter’s epic nap in August) to watch the light show being displayed on the cathedral’s facade. A rock band played lots of American music on the main stage – and their favorite song to play is Steely Dan’s “Do It Again.”
Andrassy Avenue – Budapest’s equivalent to 5th Avenue – was beautifully lit up from City Center to City Park, with the Opera House as the crown jewel right in the middle. Peter lost one of his gloves and was so distraught during our walk back to the market, and there it was, right by the B in the Budapest statue. (I knew that’s where it had to be!) He’s sure the Christmas angels found it for him.
We didn’t try the rooster.
And now, over the Dolomites and through the canals to Venice we go.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours.