Szia (Hello) and Chag Sameach (Happy Jewish New Year) from one of my favourite new cafes in Budapest, the lovely Kelet Kávézó és Galéria. Located just a few minutes walk from our home, it’s a great cafe to hang Hungo-style and type out some further highlights about our trip. We are well and truly Hungarian locals living in a city that couldn’t be more different to Sydney in so many ways. This is what we wanted the kids to experience and believe me, they now know that there is a world outside the eastern suburbs! As mentioned in previous posts, I will write more about Hungary in my last post however a little story that I hope will make you giggle.
Here goes… Every morning, I go downstairs to the local bakery and using my best Hungarian, I attempt to order some lovely ‘pogacsa’ (pronounced por-gar-cha) which come in many different savoury and sweet combinations. My favourite are the cheese ones and I have digested so many I may have to ask Wellington cake shop on Bondi Rd to cook me up a special batch on our return home. Over the last few days, I could tell that the woman in the shop was becoming somewhat bothered by my pronunciation and as I spoke, she would make the weirdest faces (think a face that has just tasted the strongest blue cheese on record) at me which actually made me feel quite uncomfortable. After a couple of mornings getting the same ‘look’, I decided it was time to have a ‘face-off’ with ‘Pogacsa Penny’ (this is what I have named her) and I gave her the same look right back at her. OK , so a bit childish and perhaps I need to get back to work soon however I am happy to advise that Pogacsa Penny and I are now friends and worked out our differences. She now greets me nicely every morning and thankful for my patronage (I think). I have now realised that Pogacsa Penny’s facial reactions were valid as after checking with Mrs G, I was infact ordering chicken juice with a touch of underpants. Ooops.
London. We had the best time. Spending a few days in one of my favourite cities a few weeks ago (I get a feeling I have quite a few of these now) with Mrs G and the kids was fantastic. Prior to leaving Sydney, I had booked seats on Hungary’s low cost carrier WIZZ. Yes, that’s the name and it was quite the experience! We have got quite used to flying around on these cheap and cheerful airlines in Europe (we also flew Vueling in Spain) and I would recommend booking as far in advance to secure the best prices. Another tip would be definitely adding priority boarding, luggage and food prior to departure as it can cost double when trying to secure these add-on’s on day of departure. It’s also pretty standard to have to walk to the last departure gate and then perhaps even get a tarmac bus to the plane etc to make up for the perks of a cheap fare. Not complaining, just stating some facts that we weren’t too familiar with. So, arrival in London was easy and we made our way to the new Ham Yard Hotel https://www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/ham-yard-hotel/. When it comes to London, there are so many hotels on offer. There really is a place for every kind of traveller. Part of the exquisite Firmdale Hotels Group, The Ham Yard Hotel embodies the London boutique hotel experience. I experienced a stay at its sister property in NYC, The Crosby St Hotel a couple of years ago, and I was keen to see what visual feast had been created by Kit Kemp and her team. It truly has everything it needs to cater to its guests (and more!). This property has one of the best locations in the entire city. The hotel is a minute away from Piccadilly Circus, Mayfair, Soho shops and restaurants, Regent Street and a short walk away from Oxford Street, Leicester Square, Covent Garden and the Seven Dials. The Ham Yard Hotel is tucked in a great part of Soho which is full of life, design, culture and atmosphere. The first thing I noticed about the hotel is the impeccable design. A lovely mix between modern design and boho chic, the extraordinary Kit Kemp and her team have done it again. The lobby and indoor/outdoor dining areas are lively (and currently serves as one of the hottest spots in Soho to have a meal) with very attentive and friendly staff. The reception desk is right between the hotel’s restaurant and its impressive library. The staff training is impeccable. Every time we entered the lobby, we were greeted with a smile and ‘how was your day?’. Over the years I have found that it is this familiarity with hotel guests that our customers love. Service with a smile. It’s not hard and Ham Yard do it so well. Jamie even managed to have a sparring competition with one of the blokes on the door which continued pretty much every time we went out on a London adventure. The kids loved their special children activity packs on arrival in the room as well as the fantastic 1950’s bowling alley located on the ground level of the hotel! The rooms are really spacious which is rare for London (and due to the fact that it’s a new build hotel). Everywhere you look you are greeted with colourful (and eclectic!) wallpaper and bed linens overlooking the roof tops of Soho or the very lively inner courtyard of the hotel. The mini-bar is excessively stocked with the best of the best (from organic beetroot juice to a play kit to a variety of wines), while the bathroom boasts a TV in front of the bathtub and a speaker system. I love the fact that the beds are quite hight off the ground so you can get a better view of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Free internet access is also included for an unlimited number of devices. So as you can tell, we loved our stay and give it a massive 10/10. Goldman Travel Corporation have fantastic rates and all our customers are given the red carpet treatment. Thanks Craig and Narelle for making it so special.
During one of the days of our stay we took the kids on the obligatory ‘hop on & off’ bus tour to show them wonderful London town and finished the day with a late lunch at Borough Market http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk down at Southwark. This was a real highlight for me (and the fam) as the food on offer (over 70 food stall and stands) is so good. All I wanted to do was to ‘borough’ my face in a salted meat sandwich (sorry for that bad joke) and after that, my day was complete. Highly recommended when in London. A visit to London wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to see The Tower of London (with a quick look at The Crown Jewels), The Victoria and Albert Museum and Hamleys Toy Store (take Panadol prior to visit to help cope with 100,000,000 kids screaming in unison). We enjoyed strolling the streets and became quite accustomed to quick sandwiches or soups at pret a manger. Great value for lunch when traveling with kids on the GBP ! We also had dinner one night at Jamie Oliver’s Italian in Piccadilly and a lovely afternoon tea at the Langham Hotel London. One restaurant I can recommend near Ham Yard actually in Soho is ‘Bocca Di Lupo’ http://www.boccadilupo.com. Best Italian food in London. Book way in advance as it’s so popular. Managed to have a quick shop at Selfridges and Liberty before we headed over to Espana (that update will come soon).
Wait a minute! How could I forget our few hours at the Notting Hill Carnival 2014? We were in town the weekend of this annual event in Notting Hill which has been held since 1966. The streets of West London came alive to so many vibrant costumes,food stalls and music of the wonderful Caribbean! I managed to enjoy it even though my ears almost fell off from the noise (yes I am an old man already and the panadol packet I took to Hamleys came in handy) and Nat and the kids didn’t stop dancing all afternoon. Better get back to the apartment now to start cooking up some Hungarian ‘lecso’ for dinner (look it up, it’s so delicious). Budapest really feels like home and I am glad that we are spending a good amount of time here. It’s weird not to have moved in a couple of weeks and be based in one city however enjoying the Hungo way of life. Maybe I should invite Pogacsa Penny over for some lecso ? Maybe not. A few pics here however having some problems loading them so will add more soon (some of the Ham Yard pics are amazing). You can also follow our journey on instagram at davegoldman.