Fresh New “Canteen” Opens Near Szena Ter

Edi looks forward to his Finomito Kantin burger

Edi looks forward to his Finomito Kantin burger


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???????????????????Good news, because good food is hard to find in the Szell Kalman ter (aka Moszkva ter) neighborhood. This one’s called Finomito Kantin – finomito means “refinery” and kantin is “canteen,” implying a cool industrial edge but also referring to a commitment to more refined cuisine than the fast-food joints that populate the square.

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Finomito Kantin is tucked behind the ice- rink-soon-to-become-beer-garden near the Szena ter bus station. Here’s a map: http://binged.it/12mS0dX.

The menu is simple. Freshly prepared burgers, soups, hot and cold sandwiches, salads and some pastas. They have their mantras painted bilingually on the wall: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO EAT GOOD FOOD. and SOUP IS LIQUID HAPPINESS and EAT TASTE SMILE. Can’t argue with those. And can’t argue with fresh food, served simply, on recyclable materials. The best thing to happen to the Szell Kalman ter area since the arrival of Arriba Taqueria. Enjoy.

Opening hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30-8.

Find it on Facebook, in Hungarian, unfortunately but the menu at the restaurant is in English: https://www.facebook.com/finomitokantin?fref=ts. Enjoy.

Posted in Loving Life in Budapest, Wellness-Fitness-Happiness | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Winter in Budapest – Top 5 Outdoor Ideas!

You’ve seen the Christmas markets, warmed up with mulled wine, and now you’re ready for more Budapestian adventures. I’m sure you’ve seen my list of skating rinks (http://wp.me/p1Mrmn-9V), but how about a sledding party? Cross-country ski lessons? Downhilling or snowboarding? For the latter you’d best venture outside the city, but here’s a list of fun snow-filled sports venues in Hungary:

Sledding (the Brits call it sledging or tobogganing, I believe):

The top spot in Budapest for sledding is Normafa. It’s near the top of János Hill, the highest in Buda (and hence all of Budapest). Take a sled – Hungarians are partial to the traditional wooden ones, but a plastic version will do – on bus 21 or 21A from Széll Kálmán sleddingtér or up Istenhegyi út and Eötvös út to Normafa. There’s a parking lot at the top, but it gets quite crowded on weekends so get there early! And you might want to use a four-wheel-drive if there’s freshly fallen snow. Then join everyone flying crazy-fast down the hill, using their feet, or other people, for brakes. Trudge back up to the top and treat yourself at the little huts to a

warm rétes (strudel), mulled wine or hot apple juice to warm up. Or plan for a nice lunch at the Normakert Vendéglő, http://www.normakert.hu/ (no English info).

Cross-country skiing:

AdriKnows Skiing in BudakesziYou can cross-country ski in the forests around Normafa with ease! I do! If you don’t have equipment, don’t know how, or need a refresher, you can join XC ski pro Anna Bozsik and her colleagues for a session either up at Normafa (actually at Anna-rét field next to the playground). There’s a schedule here http://www.sifutas.hu/index.php (in Hungarian), and you could sign up for one of her weekend XC ski camps in Slovenia or Austria…

Bozsik Ski School XC ski lessons

She also has her own shop,  Thököly út 131/B. II/1. In District XIV., open Monday through Friday, 1pm to 6pm. Or do what I did, buy an ancient pair of boots and skis at a used ski shop like the one in Budakeszi  (Admiral Sport Port, Fő utca 38, right next to the Pizza Porta restaurant) and then just hit the trails. Then when I went to Austria

XC Skiing in Austria...

for a downhill skiing trip, I tossed them in and in addition to downhill, I enjoyed the luxury of 100km of groomed XC trails that you’ll find at any Austrian ski resort…

Downhill:

normafa (1)

Some, usually children, are brave enough to ski at Normafa. Or at least they have parents willing to help them back up the hill. There are several ski schools in the city, believe it or not, that teach kids how to ski on small hills covered with a special plastic rug. One is the Pasaréti Ski School, http://www.pasaretisiiskola.hu/index.php?nyelv_valaszt=en and another is Fogarasi, with three locations, click on Ski Courses at http://fogarasisiiskola.hu/. A third is Budapest Sisuli at Normafa, no English on site, though, at http://www.sisuli.hu/.

For weekends, though, head for the hills! There are two ski resorts in Hungary to choose from:

Sípark in MátraszentistvánThe  Sípark (ski park) in Mátraszentistván opens Dec. 14, having produced 25,000 cubic meters of snow, for a snow depth of 30-80cm. It’s got 4 runs, and 5 lifts for a total of 2km of skiing and snowboarding. It also has a snow tubing run that’s open regardless of the weather since it has a special plastic coating. Mátraszentistván is about an hour and half Snowtubing!east of Budapest, here http://goo.gl/maps/NKHoL. Day passes are 4,500 for adults and 3,500 forint for children until Christmas, and 5,500/4,500 thereafter, plus a 1,000 forint per ticket deposit.  Rental and ski school available. On the web (in Hungarian, sigh) at http://www.sipark.hu/ .

A bar at the top of the Síaréna in EplényThe Nordica Síaréna in Eplény, near Veszprém, also opens Dec. 14 with 2 lifts open and skiing through 9 p.m. Altogether they have 7 lifts (including the one for the sledding hill), 16 runs and 4 sledding trails, as well as the longest continuous run in Hungary, 1.93 km. They also have a Freeski and Funpark, Hungary’s largest, with a jump appropriately called “BigAir.” It’s 115km southwest of Budapest, also about 1.5 hours, directions here http://siarena.hu/megkozelites-2/ and map http://goo.gl/maps/JrfJI.  Tickets are by the hour. For example, a four-hour pass is 5,000 forint for adults and 3,900 forint for kids. Separate sledding tickets are available, 3,500 forint for adults and 1,500 forint for kids for two hours, which includes sled rental and use of the lift. Rental and ski school available. On the web (also in Hungarian only, sigh) at http://siarena.hu/.

Skateboarding at eXboxTired of the cold, but need to get out and move after that holiday indulgence? Well, as you may know by now, my favorite place for indoor fun  is the extreme sports park called eXbox, where you can rollerblade, skateboard, climb, zipline, and Trikke around to your heart’s content! See www.exbox.hu (yes, it’s in English, because I translated it :)).

Enjoy the winter! Keep an eye on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AdriKnows?ref=hl if you want to know when Adri(knows) is out skiing or skating with (or without, for that matter) her family!

Adri

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Budapest’s Top 5 Skating Rinks

The holidays and winter wouldn’t be complete with a few rounds around a scenic skating rink, and warming up afterward with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine! Budapest has some great places for a skate, all with skate rental, lessons, opportunities to rent rinks for parties, and a good time to be had by all. I think I’ve been to every rink in the city, since I started teaching my kids to skate when they were 3! Here are my Top 5…

  1. Városligeti Műjégpálya – Don’t try to pronounce it, just go! This is the biggest open-air  skating rink in Budapest, in Hungary, and probably in Europe. It’s not just big – it’s the most stunning setting for a skating rink outside of Rockefeller Center. The imposing, newly renovated neo-Baroque building (built in 1893) greets you at the entrance to the City Park, adjacent to Heroes’ Square. Once you’re on the ice, you’re looking at the Vajdahunyadvár castle as you skate ‘round and ‘round. There are huts dotted along the edge with hot tea, mulled wine and other snacks, or you can step inside the vast changing rooms to warm up. Or pair your skating outing with a trip to the Szechényi Baths just a few minutes’ walk across the park! On Facebook (in Hungarian) at https://www.facebook.com/mujegpalya.varosligeti with an English website (which sounds like a poor computer translation but more or less comprehensible) at http://www.mujegpalya.hu/?lang_id=2&p=articles&articleGroup_id=6. Prices: entry is 1,200 forint on weekdays, 1,400 forint on weekends. Multi-session passes available. Skate rental is 700 forint for an hour, on up to 2,200 forint for four hours.Opening hours: Most days from 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. and mornings too. Check http://www.mujegpalya.hu/ on left-hand panel, or you can try the English version at http://www.mujegpalya.hu/?lang_id=2.
  2. The “Ice Terrace” (Jégterasz) moved this season to the Arena Plaza mall from WestEnd City Center, where they’ve built a go-cart track instead. The good thing about the move is that parking is free at Arena Plaza, and the rink is still outdoors. It’s in front of the old grandstand that once overlooked Budapest’s horse-racing track. The racetrack was located here until 2004 and the grandstand was preserved as a designated historic monument. The website is http://www.jegterasz.hu/, in Hungarian only, same for their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jegterasz. (Do you know how to say “shame on you” in Hungarian? It’s pretty funny, “enjye-benjye” – just pout and say en-yeh ben-yeh!). Prices: 1,100 forint (adult) and 800 forint (kids) on weekdays, and 1,300/900 on weekends, with family discounts and passes available. Skate rental 600 forint for an hour, 1,800 forint for four hours. Opening hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to midnight with ice disco from 6 p.m.
  3. Óbuda Main Square – If you’re just looking to soak up some cozy neighborhood holiday cheer, try the tiny outdoor rink on the charming, little-known main square (Fő tér) of Óbuda. Skating is FREE here, from December 1st, with skate rental and a snack bar in the adjacent tent. During Advent, there will be a Christmas market on the same square. Think artisans offering traditional crafts – a VERY miniature version of the Vörösmarty tér Christmas market, and kürtőskalács, that irresistible fresh-baked sugared curly pastry…. No English information for this tiny rink, so I’ll put a link to a map instead. http://goo.gl/maps/ytEZ3. Prices: FREE entry, skate rental prices not listed on website. Opening hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  4. Marczibányi Sportcentrum: This rink is under a tent on Márczibányi tér, behind Mammut II mall and the Millenáris complex. It’s got a heated tent with snack bar and features lessons with a skating school owned by Hungary’s former Olympic figure skater, Júlia Sebestyén. I take the kids here after school, especially on Fridays, when at 6 pm they turn off the lights, turn up the music and the disco ball starts spinning, reminiscent of the rollerskating parties I went to as a kid… The website is http://marczibanyi.hu/en/skating_ice_hockey, but the English version of the skating part of the site has virtually no useful information apart from a link to a map (click on Contact). Prices: 1,650 forint for adults, 1,200 for kids, passes available. Skate rental is 1,200 forint for adults, 800 forint for kids. Opening hours: open skate most afternoons, all day Saturday and Sunday. Schedule (in Hungarian) is here, and open skate is “közönségjég” http://marczibanyi.hu/hu/korcsolyazas.
  5. Jégkert: I’m biased toward this one, because this is where my son plays hockey. It’s a tent-covered rink right at Széna tér opposite Mammut II mall. It has a tiny snack bar, but it does have a good and reasonably priced restaurant above it, which makes it a good option for a Sunday family outing or a child’s birthday party. They have ice hockey for girls and boys from age 6, and skating lessons for all ages. Not much of an English website here either but for what it’s worth: http://www.budaijeg.hu/hunice/app;jsessionid=D29EF1C6AB21B7016266CE0AE319A815?service=page/EnglishHome. Prices: 1,250 forint for adults, 800 forint for kids, family discount available. Skate rental is 1,100 forint for adults, 700 forint for kids. Opening hours: Unfortunately open skating times change every week. They’re marked in green on this timetable, so check before you go: http://www.budaijeg.hu/hunice/app?service=page/SimpleTimeTable.

Enjoy! Let me know if you want to know next time I’m out skating with my kids and we can go for a round together. adri@adriknows.com.

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Remembering Extraordinary Hungarians

November is a time to remember those who have gone before. In Hungary, Imagefamilies visit cemeteries, leave wreaths and flowers, light candles and talk about loved ones they’ve lost. For me, it’s a time to think about Hungarians whose lives were lived in the shadow of war, fascism, communism or poverty, and I am once again grateful to have grown up in peace, freedom and prosperity.

My husband and I visited his family gravesite earlier this month with our children, who made a wreath of chestnuts for their great-grandma. Yesterday, I finally visited one of the most moving sights in Budapest: the array of shoes on the Danube bank, in memory of those who were shot into the river during the fascist regime toward the end of World War II. Why shoes? Because they were asked to remove them, shoes being valuable commodities.

ImageThe memorial is a small way for tourists and expats to feel the depth of Hungarian history. Having learned Hungarian, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know people who’ve had extraordinary lives, full of tragedy and the occasional triumph, the latter, often mere survival. I’ve heard their stories in bits and pieces over the course of several years. Two of them are no longer with us, and I remember them formally, with my husband and children, on November 1st, and think of them every other day of the year. Each deserves a memoir, a documentary, a film or a monument, but here are their stories, in short:

  • A woman whose husband was taken away by the Soviets in 1945, returning after three years, only to die of leukemia just a few years later, after which she became a successful single working mom to her two boys and lived to be 95
  •  A bank vice-president who escaped with his three-year-old son in 1946 after surviving being taken in for questioning by the much-feared secret police, and after ducking into a doorway to avoid being shot into the Danube
  • A neighbor whose parents left to tour the West with the circus when she was 3, and didn’t come back until she was 11, having been constantly bullied at school for having “capitalist” parents

ImageI thought of these people, and all those I never had the privilege to know, as I looked at the shoes. I marveled at the number of candles and flowers that had been placed there. Then I saw one tiny child’s shoe that seemed to have a note in it. It said, in English, “Take me!” and was clothespinned to a red heart made of felt. I opened the note, and inside, it said “All you need is love.” I put it back in the shoe for others to enjoy.

The fall sunlight warmed my face and I was grateful to be alive, and grateful to have known some extraordinary people, whose stories I cherish and hope to share. Image

For more information about the Shoes on the Danube Promenade memorial, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoes_on_the_Danube_Promenade. For my collection of photos of the memorial, visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AdriKnows.

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Live It. Love It. Budapest!

I’m back in Budapest and ready to help you get the best out of life here. That’s why I now offer a Live and Love Budapest seminar, an informal two-hour introduction to the ins and outs of the city, from how to ride the metro to urban legends and culture-clash solutions. If you like my blog, you’ll love the seminar, and the chance to ask all the questions you can think of. As I say, Adriknows, and if I don’t, I’ll find out for you!

That’s not all. How about hitting the town after the seminar? Crack the Budapest Code by teaming up with friends or colleagues and solving riddles downtown. Join me on this downtown tour/treasure hunt, courtesy of Adriknows partner UniqueHungary, which you read about in this blog post. You can book with or without the seminar, but do book via adri@adriknows.com for a discount!

Are you even more adventurous? Let’s tool around
downtown, or points beyond, on the Trikke three-wheeled electric bike with Adriknows partner Trikke Tours, which you read about here. You can book with or without the seminar, but do book via adri@adriknows.com for a discount!

If you’re looking for a special kind of urban adventure, let’s go to the new indoor eXtreme sports eXtravaganza called eXbox, which you read about here. We can skate, climb, trampoline, freeline or zipline,  and then relax at a bar built from a retro Budapest bus. Great for corporate events, team-building or birthday parties. You can book with or without the seminar, but do book via adri@adriknows.com for a discount!

These are the currently featured tours – lots more are available, from partners Adriknows well. I look forward to helping you… Live It. Love It. Budapest.

Adri Bruckner

+36 (20) 365-3169

adri@adriknows.com

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American-Hungarian Culinary Culture Shock

I’m in the States on vacation, making sure my kids are not only bilingual, but bicultural. That means introducing them to American food culture, right? Here are some American culinary delights I’ve indulged my children with, and some that I’ve already introduced to Hungarians – well, not all Hungarians yet, but I’m working on it.

1. Root Beer Floats. My kids had their first today. While my Hungarian husband thinks root beer is one of the most vile beverages in the world, we Americans think otherwise.  Root beer, if you’re not in the know, is a non-alcoholic carbonated beverage originally made with the root of the sassafras tree, and contains almost as many herbs as Unicum (see the Wiki entry). You make a “float” out of it by adding vanilla ice cream. Yum. Nice and spicy, but usually too sweet for the Hungarian palate. My kids liked it a lot – I guess they’ve got enough American blood. Meanwhile, I can absolve myself of responsibility since it wasn’t me who offered it to them, it was friends who had had no idea what a brilliant new experience they were about to provide.

2. Donuts. Hungarian “fank” are fabulous, but you only get these freshly fried delectables (best with apricot jam inside) in February at farsang. The rest of the year they are tired, dried-out pastries at your corner Fornetti franchise. In America, you can get fresh(ish) donuts at any moment of the day or night. When here, I indulge in a glazed one (light fried dough with a sugar glaze, never the “cake” kind), a French cruller (the dough has more eggs in it, same sugar glaze) or an apple fritter (same as glazed but with apple pie filling throughout).

3. Veggies and Dip. A banal, ho-hum party food standard here in America, this was nothing short of revolutionary the first time I served it in Hungary. “Are you sure it’s okay to eat raw broccoli?” someone whispered to me as I set out my colorful array of beautifully arranged vegetables, onion dip in the center. I assured her that millions of Americans eat all kinds of raw vegetables in this manner on a daily basis. In addition to enlightening her on that, I was one step closer to convincing foreigners that Americans do eat things other than burgers, steaks and hot dogs. Here in the land of enormous portions and a plethora of pre-prepared platters, at the store I was confronted with the question of how many pounds of veggies and dip I would like! It was lovely to skip the chopping and arranging, for once. Though Hungarian vegetables, of course, are much yummier. All the more reason to eat them raw…

4. Corn Dogs. This is a hot dog (I mean, a frankfurter, no bun) covered in cornmeal batter and fried. Served on a stick, this is beach food along the lines of the legendary langos in Hungary. We indulged in many of these while at the Jersey Shore, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law, who bought at least 100 of them at the huge Costco wholesale store. We merely had to bake them in the oven, dip them in ketchup or mustard, and yum. Maybe they have some artificial stuff in them, but at least we can say they’re gluten-free. Can’t we?

5. Brownies. I make these on an almost weekly basis back in Budapest – never for my own family, but  requested by others. I’ve considered going into business. I recently made a quadruple batch (requiring 12 eggs – nearly industrial quantity, no?) for a big party. In fact, I once got so tired of being such a one-hit wonder in the kitchen, I brazenly took something else to a party, and the hostess was visibly shaken to see that the brownies had not arrived. It was irrelevant that the brownie-baker had indeed arrived, bearing a lovely honey-poppy seed cake.

Anyway, here in Michigan I was recently treated to a whole batch just for me, Mom and the kids, baked by the lovely neighbor who gave me the recipe I still use. By baking these in Budapest, I’ve introduced Hungarians to the following, apparently mind-blowing concepts: 1) desserts do not have to be as beautiful as an Eszterhazy torta to be yummy and 2) anyone can bake. Hungarians are still unsure about #2, since they are brought up to think one must be a grandmother or go to patisserie school to bake, or they are baffled by my cup-and-tablespoon measurements. Well, they can either learn, or order from me.

That is my culinary update from the land of plenty. Of calories, as well as everything else. Let me go find that 5-pound veggie-and-dip tray…

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The Coolest New Way to See Budapest

It’s called the Trikke. Go ahead and pronounce it “trike,” rhyming with bike, because it really is a three-wheeled wonder that’s as fun to ride as a trike when you’re three. It’s the funkiest way to see downtown Budapest, whether you’re new in town or been here awhile.

I fall into the latter category, as you know, so I was eager to cruise around downtown on something safer than a bike (because you can stick to the sidewalks), greener than a car, and faster than my feet. I met Geri Tumbász of Trikke Budapest at the opening of eXbox, the indoor extreme sports center I wrote about recently, and couldn’t wait to take to the streets with an electric Trikke.

We met downtown, and drove out to Március 15. tér for some practice on a flat surface, and soon I was up to speed and slaloming in and out of the lampposts like a skier – an electro-powered one.

We rolled down the Duna Corso promenade, tooled around Vörösmarty tér, scaring a few tourists but rewarding them with Trikke brochures, and whizz down to Szabadság tér to fly by the US embassy, take a few spins in front of Parliament, and then dropped by Szent István tér and the Basilica. Though I say we were whizzing around the city, I think it was all in my mind – I don’t think we even got close to the Trikke’s maximum speed of 25 km/h. Still, we were going fast enough to create a breeze for ourselves in the 30+ heat, another bonus of this amazing vehicle.

You can go anywhere with a Trikke in Budapest. Groups can go on tours of up to 4 hours, which include every corner of the city from the Castle District to the Citadella, up Andrássy út (the Trikke can be used in bike lanes) to Heroes’ Square and the City Park, or even a spin around Margaret Island. I only got a small taste of the highlights of downtown on my one-hour tour, but it was worth it to see the old sights from a new perspective. A fun one.

Tours are €50 per hour, per person – kids are free, and kids 5-12 can ride with an adult on a Trikke. Group discounts are available, and so are corporate team-building events. See http://trikkebudapest.hu/ for more information and to book a Trikke tour.

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