Special celebrations like wedding anniversaries are very different when spent overseas, away from friends and family. It is however a chance to spoil yourself whilst travelling.
We spent our wedding anniversary, the 2nd of February, in wintery Budapest, a very different experience to our home in Australia where it would be summer and likely 40C. So we treated ourselves to a day at one of Budapest’s famous thermal spas, for a massage and soak in the warm baths followed by a 3 course lunch at Cafe Intenzo.
Gentleman, are you reading this? It does not matter where you are in the world, or what your travel budget is, she will expect to be spoilt! But if you are determined to keep to the budget, Red Fedora Diary has some great tips for 6 Free or Cheap Things to do in Budapest.
The Gellert Bath and Spa, is a gorgeous art nouveau hotel and thermal spa, perfect for spending a wintery day relaxing in the warmth. We braved the snow and ice to walk the 2 blocks from our apartment to the Kalvin Ter metro station which delivered us under the river where we popped up in no time at all, right at the front door.
The Gellert was absolutely amazing; huge cupolas decorated with stained glass, floral plaster decorations adorning the walls, and the various thermal baths were surrounded by ornate carved columns. We opted for the 36 degree celsius pool first, a semicircular affair which was constantly refilled by a couple of stone lion faucets. After that we wandered off to the 42 degree celsius pool, which was absolutely glorious. There really was something marvellously decadent about lying back in an opulent, highly heated thermal bath, whilst snow and ice were piling up outside.
Next was an hour long massage, a very pleasant treat indeed when travelling and boy did they give us a pummelling. All those travel kinks were well worked out. Cath felt that the weather was perfectly balmy at 2C, a huge change from -8C, as it had been in the early morning and went sans beanie and scarf for the quick return metro trip and we arrived at our lunch venue, the Cafe Intenzo, which did not disappoint.
Cafe Intenzo has both traditional Hungarian and international cuisine. We followed our general rule of trying local dishes before going for the usual pasta or meat dishes that make up international cuisine menus the world over. We had chosen Cafe Intenzo because we walked past it regularly on the way to the metro station and it always looked busy, we had also been there for a wine previously and loved the atmosphere. We were happy to be led by the staff and ordered as they suggested, a very sensible move. We enjoyed 3 courses of delicious hearty food and a fine bottle of local red wine, as recommended by the waiter. Ian almost made a faux pas with his goulash starter, which arrived with a small pot of chilli paste (or paprika, as they call it) Ian couldn’t help himself and put a large spoon of the paste in his soup. He was just about to add a second when the owner called out “Don’t do that! Is very hot!” Suitably admonished Ian stirred the mixture and had to admit that one spoon was heat enough.
The interior of the cafe feels cave like, with low ceiling and soft lighting making it feel comfortable and warm, the perfect place to have a lazy romantic lunch out of the cold. The staff were fantastic, even if they were a little bemused and amused by a couple of Aussies visiting Budapest in the winter, who add too much chilli to their meals!
We finished off our meal with a non traditional dessert, Baileys with ice cream, Cath being somewhat of a Baileys fan, before escaping the cold in our cosy Airbnb apartment just around the corner and the rest, well let’s just say it’s a need to know basis.
Cafe Intenzo was not the cheapest lunch but who goes cheap on their wedding anniversary?
The cost of lunch including wine and Baileys for dessert was approximately $15,366 HUF or 50 €.
The cost of the Gellert Spa (with locker) and Royal massage for 2 people $37600 HUF or 122.35 €.
Our three course lunch consisted of:
- Traditional Hortobágy style pancake with paprika sauce (do not miss this, AMAZING)
- Goulash soup ‘alföld style’
- Hungarian style pork medallions, turmeric rice, onion and strawberry chutney (also AMAZING)
- Chicken paprikas with egg dumpling
- Baileys and ice cream for dessert (always a winner