Monthly Archives

January 2018

Expat Life

Left Alone in Budapest for a Week

January 20, 2018
Alone in Budapest

I am left alone in Budapest for a week. Okay, so not exactly a full week, but six days. Either way, this is the longest time I have been alone in a while. That may sound strange, but it is true. My husband and I spent nearly everyday of 2017 together as we prepared for our new life in Budapest. We spent the first six months packing up the house and then the last six months “moving”. However, now that we are finally settled in, I find myself alone.

Being alone

While being alone is not something I am currently used to – I have never been afraid of it.  I’m certainly not afraid to be alone in Budapest.  It’s by far the safest capital city I’ve ever been too. Before I met my husband (9 years ago), I had been single for a couple of years.  I often took vacations alone.  I went to Mexico on scuba diving vacations alone.  I explored Amsterdam, Barcelona and even the streets of Budapest – alone. But now it does seem strange.  Its funny how quickly you get used to someone being by your side and helping you get through daily life. But this week, I’m getting out of my comfort zone, and I’m going to try something new in this gorgeous city everyday.


I am not a vegetarian nor a vegan, but I love veggie cuisine.  This 100% vegan restaurant is not far from where I live, so I though I would give it a try for lunch. You can find VEGACITY at 23-25 Múzeum boulevard in the 5th district near Kálvin Tér.  Their mission is to “make vegan quality food popular even among non-vegans”. Personally, I think they nailed it.  I had a very difficult time deciding what to eat from all the delicious looking choices.  They have weekly offers and you can find that info here.

I chose the Indian dish, and it was amazing.  The right amount of curry for flavour, but not too “hot” spicy. They did have hot sauces and other condiments to flavour if needed. I bought the “full portion” for 890 forints ($4.40 CDN or £2.53).  This could easily have fed two for a takeaway – especially if you served with rice.

Aside from being simply vegan, they also offer several sugar and gluten-free desserts. I definitely recommend you give it a try!

Vegacity Indian

My delicious tasting vegan curry dish from VEGACITY.

Shopping at Bijó Trade Store

Bijó Trade Store is a huge natural products store located at Róbert Károly krt. 96 in the 13th District. You can easily reach it by hopping on the 105 bus from Deák Ferenc Tér. Hopefully, if you do it in the rain like I did, you’ll remember to bring your umbrella – ugh.

This place is about the size of my local Whole Foods back in Toronto.  Its spreads itself over two floors. I must have spent an hour and a half in their shelves. It is filled with natural food, skincare, beauty products, vitamins and household products. On their website, they promise that all their products are “natural and chemical free”.

Since I have an obsession with all things skincare and beauty, I visited to see if I could make some new fabulous discoveries.  I bought a few things, I plan to test them out and have a separate review post up for you sometime soon.

To read more about our shopping adventures, read this.

Solitary Endeavours

I still have a few more days on my own.  Today, I plan to visit the Buddha Bar Hotel Spa.  And yes, this may be a little bit “cheaty”.  I mean, I usually go to the spa alone so this is hardly brave.  But I have never been to THIS spa before. Next week I am attending the 21st Budapest Burns Supper and I’m trying to make myself more presentable.

(from the Buddha Bar Hotel website)

Andrew and I are really looking forward to this event next weekend. If you haven’t heard of the Burns Supper organized by the Robert Burns International Foundation, you can read all about it on Expat Press Hungary Magazine: “Charity and Celebration at the 21st Budapest Burns Supper”

Where in the World?

England is famous for many things – fish and chips, Big Ben, double-decker buses, black cabs, The Beatles, and tea. This week it’s also famous for my husband – at least the part near Bristol.  Honey, if you’re reading this… I know it sounds like I’m having lots of fun alone – but I can’t wait to be reunited soon!

What are your favourite things to do in Budapest on your own?  What should I do/have done? Let me know in the comments below.

Oh, and if you like what your reading, please subscribe to get an email alert for each new post.  You can do that on the main page in the right hand column.

Köszönöm 😊


Budapest Expat Tips, Expat Life

Discovering Different places to Buy Harder to find Groceries in Budapest

January 17, 2018
Groceries in Budapest

My husband and I moved to Budapest seven weeks ago.  We live in the 5th district in the “Belvaros” area. Belváros means “inner city”or “downtown” in Hungarian. So while we have lots of little shops around, its not always easy to find exactly what we are craving or looking for. We set off to discover some different places to buy our harder to find groceries in Budapest.

Common Grocery Stores

There are many smaller grocery stores and specialty shops all over the city.  Sometimes you will find more than one on the same block.  But if you are used to shopping at Whole Foods or Loblaws like I was, these shops are incredibly tiny. Choice in these shops is usually quite limited and stock doesn’t seem to come very regularly. One week you can find the item you are looking for – but then you don’t see it again for another month.

Andrew was very excited to find his favourite cookies at our local SPAR when we first arrived.  However, once we bought up the few packages in stock, we never saw them again.

Some of the typical downtown grocery shops:

  • CBA
  • Tesco Expressz
  • SPAR
  • Prima
  • ABC
  • Aldi

Shopping near Kálvin Ter

We live close to the Danube, in the southern part of the 5th district close to Kálvin Ter. We wanted to find more ethnic type foods and some North American & British comfort foods. Our research complete, we decided we would visit the Asia Market, the Great Market Hall (“Nagyvásárcsarnok”) and the USA Candy Store. All 3 stores are no more then 15 minutes walking distance – important on a chilly January afternoon. There are also several metro, tram and bus options to get to this easy to reach spot downtown.

The Asia Market

Located right next door to the Great Market Hall is The Azsia Market . This Asian Market sells all things Asian with generous helping of Mexican and Indian food items. We bought our rice cooker from here along with some other kitchen items.  There is row after row of amazing foods, sauces, canned goods, baking goods, teas and more.

They have a massive spice, rice and pasta section made from a wide variety of plants, flours and grains. I would highly recommend this place for vegetarians, vegans or anyone who likes ethnic foods. You can visit their Facebook page to read about their latest offers.

Azsian Market

You can find the market at Vámház körút. 5, Budapest 1093. The operating hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 6:30 pm, Saturday 8:00 am to 3 pm and its closed on Sunday.

Groceries purchased:

Black beans, baked beans, variety of curry spices, garlic, soya sauce, sweet and sour sauce, rice noodles, jasmine rice and herbal peach tea.

The Great Market Hall

The Great Market Hall, built in 1897, is the biggest and prettiest of all Budapest market halls.  Located beside the Liberty Bridge, the building is 10,000 square meters over 3 floors, covered by a steel structure. A distinctive architectural feature is the roof which was restored to have colourful tiling. And while being a tourist hotspot, it also serves as a functioning and practical place to buy your fresh groceries. You can also find other smaller market halls located in various locations in both Buda and Pest.

Great Market Hall

The interior of the Great Market Hall (still decorated from the Christmas holiday).

The stalls on the main floor sell fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat, dairy, baked good and booze. Downstairs you’ll find the more pungent fish vendors and butchers, along with an Aldi supermarket. Upstairs you’ll find an incredible amount of souvenir items, Hungarian handicrafts, prepared food stalls and restaurants.

Andrew and I enjoying the relative quiet of the main floor Market Hall on a rainy afternoon.

The Market is closed on Sunday, opens at 6am on other days, and closes at 5pm Monday, 6pm Tue-Fri and 3pm Saturday.

Groceries purchased:

Mandarin oranges, bananas, lemons, avocado, onions, walnuts, eggs, Brie cheese, milk and rye bread.

USA Candy – London Gourmet

Our final stop was USA Candy – London Gourmet.  This store stocks not just American candies, but British sweets too. This small shop is just across the main road from the market and on our way home.  Here you can find lots of satisfaction for your sweet tooth – but also some familiar and comforting foods.  They sell tea, condiments, cereals, marmalades, and more.

Andrew headed straight to the Cadbury section as soon as we walked in…

You will find the USA Candy shop at Királyi Pál u. 13b, Budapest, 1053. The operating hours are Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 1 pm and its closed on Sunday.

Groceries purchased:

Flake chocolate bars, KitKat mocha bar, M&M Dark Chocolate Mints, Tetley’s Tea and Vegemite (personally a yuck for me).

Additional Grocery Stores

I’m sure there are many more amazing places for groceries that I have yet to discover.  In all fairness, we’ve just explored within a very small area near our home.  However, I would be remiss not to once again mention the British Pantry – a home delivery grocer that Andrew and I also use. I also spoke about the service in my post about the Best Facebook Groups for Expats.

Is there somewhere fabulous that I missed?  Do you have a favourite place I should know about?  Is there an awesome market I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!

Expat Life

Get Sore Feet with Expats on Margaret Island in Budapest

January 9, 2018
Margaret Island Bird

Unlike the majority of our friends and family back home, we are happily having a very mild winter here in Budapest.  We’ve been so lucky to be able to move around the city so easily and get settled into new life abroad without freezing or struggling with the snow. It’s also allowed for us to simply explore and discover this gorgeous city.  Yes, this means sore feet – especially mine – but we are happy and very grateful.

Margaret Island

Margaret Island is a 2.5km long island in the middle of the Danube in Budapest.  The island spans the area between the Margaret Bridge (south) and the Árpád Bridge (north). The island was called Insula leporum before being named after Saint Margaret (1242–1270) in the 14th century. Margaret was the daughter of Béla IV of Hungary, and she lived in the Dominican convent on the island. Today, the island is directly managed by the city and is a recreation area with athletic buildings, gardens, parks, pools, cafes, a hotel, a small zoo, running trails and more.

An arial view of Margaret Island

An arial view of Margaret Island.

A January Day

Yesterday, it was 12 degrees so we decided it was perfect weather to head to Margaret Island to walk with the dog.  Since Lucy no longer has a backyard, we really wanted a chance to let her run free on the grass like she loves to do on Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands.  Our new apartment is in the 5th District in Budapest, so we hopped on the number 2 tram to take us to Margaret Bridge.  We got off at the end of the line and walked across Margaret Bridge to Margaret Island from there.


Once we arrived, we simply wandered around the island and enjoyed what we accidentally found.  We found lovely buildings, cafes, trees, open green spaces, sculptures and even ancient ruins.

The Knights of St. John settled on the island in the 12th century. Among the present historical monuments of the island are the 13th century ruins of a Franciscan church and a Dominican church and convent, as well as a church from the 12th century. The park was officially turned into a public park in the early 1900s.

Running Activities for Expats

If you are a runner, there is a monthly event and free timed 5k run around the island.  Find about more about it on their Facebook page. As you can see by the photo below there is a dedicated path for runners (the red one).  There is also a path specifically for “walkers” and then also paths for bikes and motorized vehicles all around the island.

Dedicated traffic lanes on Margaret Island

Dedicated traffic lanes on Margaret Island

Andrew and Lucy enjoying the sun.

Andrew and Lucy enjoying the sun.

Until next time…

There is so much to see and do, but we only spent a couple of hours.  We hope this wonderful weather streak continues and we have many more winter walks on the island.

The day was so beautiful, we decided to walk all the way home from the island and took some great photos in the winter sun.


Expat Life, Personal Stories

Our Fun and Festive New Year’s Eve Celebration in Budapest

January 1, 2018
Baalbak New Years Eve

Andrew and I had our first fun and festive New Year’s Eve celebration in Budapest last night. We celebrated with two other couples at the Baalbek Lebanese Restaurant located inside the Buddha-Bar Hotel Klotild Palace. We ate an Arabic Style Gala dinner listening to live music and enjoyed the belly dancing show.

Our new friends kindly invited us to their gorgeous apartment near the Parliament for cocktails. After we spent some time drooling over their gorgeous apartment and Danube River view, we headed off to the Baalbek for dinner around 7pm.

Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building on New Year’s Eve.

Buddha Bar Hotel Entrance

Buddha Bar Hotel Entrance

Aniko Friends

New friends in Budapest. Such wonderful ladies!

Andrew enjoying the show

Andrew enjoying the show. It was a thrill to experience something out of the ordinary for New Year’s Eve.

The Klotild Palace

The Klotild Palace is built in a British neo-baroque, eclectic style in the 5th district of Budapest, at Ferenciek Square.  Princess Marie Clotilde, the wife of Archduke Joseph Karl had the palace built in the 1880s.  The building’s glass windows were made in the workshop of Miksa Róth, while the 48-meter-high towers are adorned with an enlarged replica of the archduke’s crown. It is the first building in Budapest to be fitted with an elevator. With various uses over the past century, the Buddha Bar Hotel was opened in 2012.

Buddha Bar Hotel

Klotild Palace near the Elizabeth Bridge in Budapest. Photo: Juhász Norbert

New Year’s Eve Dinner

Since it was my birthday celebration as well as New Year’s Eve, Andrew let me decide to where to go for dinner.  One of the reasons I picked Baalbek was because we had never experienced Lebanese food before.  It definitely wasn’t a typical New Year’s Eve dinner at the yacht club…

For our appetizers, we feasted on a gorgeous platter of hummus, moutabel (eggplant cream), beetroot, tabbouleh (parsley salad), kibbeh, grilled salty cheese and spicy lamb sausage. Not surprisingly, I ate every last bit of this offering, but my British husband skipped a few suspicious looking items.



Incredible food at the Baalbek Lebanese Restaurant

Our second course was lentil Soup with sumac and scallop. Lentil soup is a tradition here in Hungary.  It is typically served on New Year’s Day and can be found at most restaurants. The traditional goes that if you eat lentils – a symbol of money coming your way for the coming year – abundance in all worldly goods will accompany you in the New Year. *fingers-crossed*

The main course was a choice of meat or fish and we both had beef tenderloin with potato gratin and green pepper sauce. It was followed by a coconut & rose water cake with raspberry sorbet.  I enjoyed the sorbet but strongly disliked the cake.  Luckily, Andrew loved it and ate mine too.

Coconut & Rose Water Cake with Raspberry Sorbet

Coconut & Rose Water Cake with Raspberry Sorbet

Happy New Year

Thanks to my husband, my family and my friends (old and new) for making 2017 a fabulous one! We are finally moved into our new apartment and our things will arrive from Canada in a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to more adventures in 2018.

What did you do for New Year’s Eve? Let me know in the comments below!

All the best from Budapest!