I tried making a Lebanon travel video but it didn’t feel right so I made the Bcharre and Beirut videos separate. I did not add music to these videos because 1) they are short and 2) it’s always a struggle so I just avoided spending the time on it this time. The videos can also only be monetized (not that we make more than a penny like every few months) if they don’t have copyrighted music so there’s that too. I used the original sound (mostly) for the Bcharre video and no sound for the Beirut video. I would have used sound but I didn’t decide that was a good idea until I began making the Bcharre video (I made the Beirut one first). The Beirut video is also very shaky, practically hurts my head, but we didn’t have much stable footage (you should see how much I don’t include at all each time- we need to use tripods more) and I can’t stabilize video which has been sped up. Kyle recently told me I could pre-render and add stabilization, but I am not completely thrilled with the stabilization tools anyway. Even if I tell them only stabilize- don’t stabilize and crop- they still often do crop! Well, whatever. I’ll work on it. Here are the videos for now.
Additionally, you may remember that the last specific-area video I did was in SE Asia (Bali, Kl, plus bits of others combined) so sequentially Sri Lanka should be next, but Kyle claimed it long ago. I’m sure he’ll do it eventually. The next videos will be Cyprus, Belgrade, and Budapest.
Cyprus is home to several prehistoric sites across the island, with Choirokoitia being one of the largest, and best preserved sites. It also just so happened to be pretty easily accessible. It lies just off the highway about halfway between Limassol and Larnaka and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We made our way out to the site during the time that Briana’s dad was visiting us. Just like our other adventures out to Tomb of the Kings and Kurion, this would also turn into a hike.
Being the middle of summer, it was really hot out probably somewhere in the mid to upper 90s so we made sure to bring a fair amount of water and we put on a little sunscreen. The site, like much of the island, is very dry, on the verge of being desert.
Upon arrival, we saw that the site was very well maintained with a visitor entrance, bathrooms, plaques, and some stone pavement. Entrance to the park cost 2.50 Euro per person, so it was not too bad a price.
The site lies at one end of a longer hiking trail that will take you to several neolithic sites including the Kalavasos-Tenta (another site you can see off of the highway) and the Byzantine church of the Panagia tou Kambou. However, considering the heat of the day and the fact that the hiking trail was several miles in length, we elected to just see the Choirokoitia site.
This worked out perfectly anyways as we still were able to explore the site itself for around two hours at a leisurely pace. The entire site makes its way around a hill, with several smaller sections to view. Near the entrance, manicured paths take you to various plaques that describe how the aboriginals of Choirokoitia lived on the land as well as about the wildlife, climate, and habitat of the region.
There are also several brick and plaster buildings that have been preserved and restored that you can view. These buildings show how family units would have lived, with each building serving as a room, arranged in a circular pattern forming a larger familial structure.
Moving on from here, the path turns more to a worn dirt trail and makes its way around the bend, overlooking what used to be a river. It could still be river, but it was hard to see if there was any water considering the drought. Regardless, in ancient times, the settlement existed due to it’s location next to the Maroni River.
Along this section we found the remains of ancient walls and early settlements. It is believed however, that this particular site was later abandoned in favor of a location further up the hill by a few hundred feet.
When we arrived the larger location we were struck by the enormity of the site. Numerous stone alleyways, rooms, and buildings stood embedded into the hillside. For preservation purposes, we were not allowed to go into the ruins themselves (which were covered by a tarp to protect from the harsh sun), but elevated walkways and ramps provided for ample viewing of the archaeological dig.
The structure itself feels small due to the fact that the people of Choirokoitia were between 4’11” and 5’3”. The 300 to 600 inhabitants only lived to 35 years on average.
For reasons unknown, the people of Choirokoitia abruptly abandoned the village around 6000 BCE. The region was not inhabited again for another 1500 years. Recent evidence in Limassol has pointed though, to the theory that the people simply moved further west – mostly likely in response to climate pressures.
At the top of the village there is a viewing platform that provides for a great view of the surrounding hills and valley.
All in all the site of Choirokoitia is a great place to see. It’s a little off the beaten tourist path that you’ll encounter near Pafos, but it’s no less amazing. If you want to visit, it is open daily from 8.00 – 17.00.
Half way through our stay in Budapest, we decided that we were going to visit the Hungarian National Museum. The cost of Budapest tested our budget, so we tried to go on the national holiday, during which time the museums were free. We had first gone to the House Of Terror and expected to follow up with the National Museum, but we had severely underestimated how tired we would be from all the walking and just how much time we could spend at the House of Terror.
With time flying by, we decided that we needed to see the museum. We regretted not seeing the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, so with a little insistence and determination we got up and began the walk to the museum.
It was a pretty brisk day as we made our way. We set off just after lunch, covered up in our winter gear. The walk from our AirBNB took about thirty minutes, but the time passed quickly as we made our way down the busy roads.
Entering the grounds, we were greeted by a large columned facade sitting atop a wide staircase. The building was reminiscent of a Greek or Roman temple. The museum was first created in 1802 and initially set up as the National Széchényi Library. In 1807 it became the museum and the Hungarian Parliament donated to the institution multiple times. In 1846, the museum relocated to its current location.
Entering the building, we came into a large marble room. Here we purchased the tickets to the museum for 1,600 HUF (~$5.50) each. Because of the cold weather, we had obviously had our jackets on and were directed down to the basement to store our coats and backpack. The coat storage was pretty straight forward, and gave us a great place to begin our exploration of the museum.
The museum has a huge collection of gravestones dating all the way back to Roman times through to the Modern era. We went around the large basement room, checking out the headstones and stone carvings. In the center of the room was a very large tile mosaic.
After the basement, we proceeded up to the main floor. Here we were able to learn about the paleolithic and early history of Hungary and the surrounding region. There was a heavy emphasis on the iron age and early migration of the Magyar people. I found it pretty interesting, and the museum presented the information very well.
Once we finished this hall, we visited the other hall on this floor. It was very interesting and started to get into the medieval history. So here we got to see more exquisite artifacts such as swords, royal jewelry, armor and other such things. We also got to see the influence of east Asian migrations. While it never occurred to me initially, it actually makes a lot of sense considering Hungary’s location on the continent that it would receive a fair amount of migration.
The exhibition halls are very large and takes a pretty good while to get through. Once finishing the main floor, we proceeded up a grand staircase to the second floor. The ceiling of the staircase was painted with intricate murals.
The second floor was even more interesting than the first floor, and it really had some interesting items. There were several rooms and halls on the floor to check out. We didn’t pay to see the special, temporary exhibition, but we did see the other halls.
These halls covered the more modern events of Hungary, particularly the Communist uprising and subsequent fall. The Terror Museum covered this far more in depth, but it was nice to have multiple perspectives and sources on such an important event in Hungarian history.
With tired feet, we made our way out and down the front steps of the museum. By this time, the sun had set and rain had begun to fall. We pulled out only remaining umbrella and set out to further explore the city.
To visit the museum, you can find it located at:
Budapest, Múzeum krt. 14-16, 1088 Hungary
It’s hours are: Tuesday through Sunday 10am – 6pm.
Yesterday we went on a short hike in Santa Teresa County Park. Santa Teresa is only about fifteen minutes away from our place making it an ideal spot to hike. In the winter it’s nice and green, and this year it is especially so with all the rain we’ve been getting. Kyle gets home from work pretty early and with the sun beginning to set later, we are able to go on short weekday hikes if we want. It helps a little with curbing our wanderlust and gives us some exercise and fresh air.
Here is short video just for fun.
The main reason I took/made a video this time was for some fun experimentation. I knew this would be a good place because we had already been there and it’s both a nice backdrop and not very crowded (I assumed this would especially be true during the week).
If you want to see more hikes in our area, check out our South Bay Hikes post (though it hasn’t been updated in over a year!- we’ll get on that soon) or see our North and Central America page for even more hiking posts from the bay area.
It won’t take you very long to realize that Serbia takes great pride in it’s citizens. They’ve produced many great names, but there is one in particular that seems to stand a little above the rest – Nikola Tesla.
One of the great engineers, physicists, and futurists in human history, Tesla has become beloved by the Serbian people. They love him so much they even stuck his face on the 100 Dinar bill (he was also featured on the 5 and 5,000,000 Yugoslavian Dinar bill). The airport in Belgrade is the Nikola Tesla Airport. Today, he is a little less known in America due to Thomas Edison stealing the limelight, but he’s no less important or relevant than he’s ever been. His name has been attached the electric car company “Tesla” in his honor.
In the heart of Belgrade, you can find the Nikola Tesla Museum. The museum was founded on December 5, 1952 with effort from Tesla’s nephew Sava Kosanovic. The museum resides in a residential villa that was built in 1927 according to the designs of distinguished Serbian architect Dragisa Brasovan.
The museum is divided into two key exhibits: a memorial exhibit and an interactive one. Upon entering the museum, you will find yourself in the main hall of the house where you can purchase your tickets for 500 Dinar (~$2.50).
When we entered, we had about twenty minutes until the guided tour would begin. While we waited for the tour to begin, we took our time exploring the memorial exhibit. The majority of this section was comprised of his personal belongings as well as his urn.
There was not a tremendous amount of information here, though there were a few interesting plaques. Most of it was simply his possessions and a few journal writings and the such.
The real interesting part was the interactive tour. The tours run in both English and Serbian. It begins with an informative video presentation about Tesla’s life. It’s really pretty interesting, starting with his early life and working through his professional life. It briefly covers the most important Tesla’s 300+ patents, and spent a great deal of time detailing his work on wireless power and his Colorado Springs project.
He spent much of his time in the United States, working for Thomas Edison. Later, he worked on a wireless transmission tower, but when found out by his financier JP Morgan that he intended to provide free energy, his efforts were shut down. Many of his efforts did come to fruition though, such as the development of AC electrical generators and the building of the Niagara Falls power.
After the video, a tour guide went into further detail about some of the details mentioned in the video. As well, they demonstrated some of his inventions such as wireless transmission of energy.
The most interesting – and entertaining – was the demonstrations with the Tesla coil. It could shoot over 1,000,000 volts of electricity, but it was turned down to create cool little lightning bolts to shock people with.
The tour ended after about 45 minutes. The museum while a little on the small side, packs a nice punch and makes for a great short activity.
You can find it at Krunska 51, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia.
Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
When I first saw Kevin and Amanda’s popular post: Everything I Ate in Budapest!, I showed it to Kyle and we used the article, along with several others, to get some ideas about different foods we wanted to try in Budapest. Because we found it useful and have made similar type posts in the past, I decided to try something like it with the desserts we tried in Budapest!
If you know me, you know I love my sweets, and Budapest did not disappoint. There are many markets, bakeries, cafes and so on where you can find various types of sweets. I included coffee in this post because the few cups we tried out were pretty dessert-esque. We were in Budapest for nearly a month and a half so we had time to try a few spots. Like most other places, we also didn’t have an oven (for baking) which made it necessary to find items to satisfy our (mostly my) sweet tooth. With as many sweets as we did eat, there were plenty of great places (or, at least, places with great reputations) that we didn’t make it to during our time in Hungary. Feel free to make a comment if there was another place you loved in Budapest!
Onto the sweets!
Chimney Cakes (Kürtőskalács) from a stand
Once you take in the scent of this sweet dough roasting, you will find it necessary to try some! I first saw chimney cakes at a mall in Kuala Lumpur (so much international food there!) back in January of last year. We considered getting one, but we had already eaten and they cost a little too much for us at the time. Unfortunately, when we returned to KL in May, we found the place was no longer there. Budapest was already high on our list, though, and I figured we would get it there- and we did. Depending on where you go, you can find different flavors like cinnamon, walnut, and coconut.
Where to find it: We saw many stalls roasting and selling them at the Christmas markets, as well as a few others throughout the city. If you do a lot of exploring you’ll probably come across one. We ate at a random stand near a train station.
Cost: Prices vary widely, but I think the more permanent stalls tend to run cheaper. We found some for 350forint ($1.21) but we saw them going for around $10 other places. They will especially run high at the Christmas markets, but Christmas markets and chimney cakes are a pretty great combination! You will also find that some of the variation in price is due to size. Different stands may have different sized chimney cakes.
If you want to learn more about chimney cakes and better specifics on prices and where to find them, check out The Best Winter Treat in Budapest on the We Love Budapest site. We used this site quite a bit during our time there. Additionally, we didn’t go here, but this place looks delicious and highly rated and I have seen other bloggers mention it.
Ice Cream-Filled Chimney Cakes at Street Cakes
Now, take that chimney cake, choose your preferred flavor, cover the inside with nutella, and add ice cream and toppings. During one of our first days in Budapest we were out walking down Andrassy street and saw a few people eating these treats. At this point we hadn’t had chimney cakes at all. I knew I had to try one!
The shop is small and might be easy to miss if you don’t notice anyone eating ice cream outside. I wondered why the place wasn’t better known yet- it’s probably because it’s new. You can also add all kinds of toppings like fruit and chocolate bar pieces, cookies, candies, etc. but we just stuck to the basics because we weren’t sure how much it would cost. If you’re curious about the pumpkin decoration- we got these in late October. I assume they might add cute decorative toppings for other holidays as well.
How it works: First you choose a flavor for the chimney cake, then decide if you want Nutella, jam, or whipped cream spread on the inside, choose your ice cream, pick your toppings, and add sauce (chocolate, caramel, etc.) if you want. When we visited, the only ice cream flavor options they presented to us were chocolate, vanilla, or swirl soft-serve but I think I’ve seen pictures with a pink strawberry-looking ice cream online. They have savoury options and drinks as well. P.S. I loved the cinnamon flavor for the chimney cake.
Where to find it: Budapest, Andrássy út 61, 1062 Hungary.
Cost: It will vary depending on your choices, but it cost us $6.94 (~$3.47 each) for chimney cake + ice cream + Nutella in one.
Also to consider if you’re interested: Later on in Budapest we were walking around and found this other place that looked amazing- chimney cakes filled with all kinds of other things- I think pudding, whipped cream, etc. (hey! we couldn’t try everything) so if you are on the lookout you may find other places which offer interesting twists on the chimney cakes.
Cake at Ruszwurm Cukrászda
Located in the Castle District close to many attractions, this pastry shop is known for being one of the oldest in Budapest (from 1827). Therefore it’s extremely popular and likely the most famous pastry shop in Budapest. If any blogger/traveler, etc. has one dessert recommendation, aside from chimney cakes, it’s typically this shop. You can sit inside or outside. We sat outside because it was all that was available at the time and, for November, it was a really nice day! You can also get drinks here- from alcohol to coffee. Though I thought we ought to just share a piece, Kyle didn’t have to twist my arm to convince me we should each get our own slice. The chocolate piece was very rich, almost like fudge, and the caramel cake had a nice flavor and creaminess to it. Let’s just say they’ve been around nearly 200 years for a reason.
Where to find it: 1014 Budapest, Hungary Szentháromság u. 7.
Cost: A slice is somewhere around $1.50-$3. It cost us 1245 forint (~$4.42) for the two pieces you see above. I believe drinks cost more but we didn’t get them. Small water cups came with our cake.
Tip: If you’re looking to get the cake that any person/blog/website always shows for Ruszwurm Cukraszda, it’s called “Cream Cake” (perhaps the “Traditional Cream Cake” or something along those lines). I originally thought I would get this slice but the menu has no pictures so it’s difficult to discern the appearance of a given piece simply from its menu description. The servers also tend to be busy due to the place being so popular.
So now you know about that cake but if you are looking for another particular slice, or want to be prepared, just scroll through the pics on TripAdvisor– many visitors label their cakes. Additionally, though I didn’t realize it, at first, you actually can go inside and look at some of the cakes on display (though you might have to navigate a small crowd for a peek). I was actually a bit more in the mood for chocolate anyway when we visited so it was fine. In the end we both had absolutely delicious desserts so I really don’t think you could go wrong with anything here, but it’s information to keep in mind.
Ice Cream at Gelarto Rosa
Rose-shaped ice cream. Pretty + sweet = pretty sweet, right? Interestingly enough, this was not the first time we found rose ice cream. We first tried such a treat in Seoul at a place called Milky Bee. We both love ice cream and it’s such a fun idea. I don’t always expect things which look so pretty to taste amazing but this ice cream was GOOD. If I’m going to be honest, the rose ice cream was a tad bit better in Budapest than Korea. If nothing else, they certainly had the advantage of more decent flavor options. You can choose either two or three flavors. I think I chose pistachio, sour cherry, and lavender white chocolate and Kyle chose mango and strawberry. They serve other desserts and drinks as well.
Where to find it: Budapest, Szent István tér 3, 1051 Hungary (near St. Stephen’s Basilica).
Cost: ~$2.35/piece. It cost us $4.69 for two ice creams- one with two flavors and the other with three.
Gelato at Fragola
One night we were craving ice cream so I did some research to find the best option factoring in cost and distance from our location. It was Fragola. I tried strawberry cheesecake ice cream and it was the last bit of it for the night so the woman really filled my cone. Kyle ordered a nut ice cream. Both were good. We visited a different location while out another night something and I got lemon and Kyle got something with chocolate in it. The ingredients are Italian and they don’t use any artificial flavors which is nice (I believe both of those statements are true about Gelarto Rosa as well). Flavors include white chocolate, gorgonzola, caramel, chestnut mascarpone, and more.
Where to find it: There are several locations throughout the city. You can find the various addresses on their Facebook page. Also see the Fragola website.
Cost: 280-300 Forint, or ~$1. It cost us 560forint (~$2) for two ice creams. The second time it was a little more because we opted for waffle cones over cake cones.
Shake at Sweetheart Milkshakes
This was a pretty cute little place. We decided to share the Salted Caramel Pretzel Shake but they have waffles and regular food as well. It was a little more salty than I preferred but it was still good and Kyle was fine with the saltiness level.
Where to find it: Budapest, Wesselényi u. 18, 1077 Hungary
Cost: The item we got cost ~$3.49. Most of the other items were more expensive which is why we elected to just share the one item.
Crepe (Gundel Pancake) at Frici Papa
I came across Frici Papa when I was scouring small blogs for interesting/different things to do and try in Budapest. Kyle had mentioned that one of the dishes he most wanted to try in Budapest (there were a few) was the chicken paprikash. A particular blogger (sorry, no longer remember where I found it) raved over this dish there and it was reasonably priced so we decided we would give it a shot one day. The restaurant actually has pretty good prices. I was a little bit more in the mood for sweets at the time so I chose to get a crepe. Yum! It was very different from other crepes I’ve tried. Re-examining the menu I noticed it was actually called a “Gundel Pancake” which is a type of Hungarian crepe. You can find the menu here. My crepe was so good. The inside was filled with a sweet cheese and the outside was covered in yoghurt and chocolate (or so it seemed). It was pretty filling too.
Where to find it:Budapest, Király u. 55, 1077 Hungary
Cost: Our whole meal cost 1500 forint ($5.34). My crepe specifically was 539 forint ($1.86).
Honey Gingerbread Cream Dessert from Panineria
It was our last night in Budapest and we were hungry. We thought about our options and decided on Panineria which we had passed quite a few times, but hadn’t yet tried. We ordered sandwiches (we’ll talk about them in another post) but I was thinking I might want a dessert after since we had none left at home. Though I couldn’t find the menu online, I believe it was “mézes puszedli pohar kremIt” which translates as “macaroon cream cup honey”. It was basically cream with little gingerbread (that’s what it tasted like to me) pieces with honey and, as good as it looks and sounds, it tasted even better.
Where to find it: Oktogon tér 4., Budapest, Hungary
Cost: The total cost for two large sandwiches and the dessert was $8.95. I don’t recall the specific cost of the dessert but I believe it was somewhere around $1-$2.
Website: They don’t have a website but they are right next to a place called Made in Pasta and I think they might be run by the same people.
Donut from The Donut Library
We went here late one evening after trying to go to the Pinball Museum (unfortunately it was closed at the time). Because it was evening, there weren’t many donuts left so we just chose one to split. For the same reason (I assume), the donut was a little on the dry side. We chose an oreo donut which was good, but I’ve had better. Maybe try them in the morning. They are supposed to have really cool flavors. Either way, the place was cute and cozy.
Where to find it: There are three addresses: Pozsonyi út 22. XIII. kerület; Karinthy Frigyes út 18. XI. kerület; Károly krt 7. VII. kerület
Cost: Our donut cost 360 forint ($1.24) but some donuts cost more.
Waffle from Habros Goffri Waffle
We came across this place one rainy night on our way somewhere. I thought it looked good and after I checked out the prices I thought it looked even better. We just got one because Kyle wasn’t much in the mood for sweets but it took a little to decide- there were so many spread options like cherry chocolate pudding, peanut butter, and apricot jam. I chose the chestnut cream spread because it seemed fitting for the night and weather. It was good. Overall: good taste, lots of flavor options, and a price you can’t beat.
Where to find it: Ferenciek tere 4. Budapest, Hungary (near Ferenciek square)
Strudel from a stand in front of Oktogon Bistro
We were walking home one day and this lady was selling all these, strudels (I think) in front of a restaurant. She looked hopeful that someone would buy them and I knew we didn’t have any candy bars at home at the time so I decided to give them a look. I hadn’t tried something exactly like it so I opted to give it a shot. I am not sure exactly what kind of fruit filling I chose but it was decent. The only downside was that there were some really hard pieces (like pits) inside as well. I assume that would not be true of all of them.
Where to find it: Though I’m not positive if it was associated with the restaurant, there are several locations, including Budapest, Teréz krt. 23, 1067 Hungary
Tiramisu Coffee at Lira Pont
Lira Pont was literally just across the street from us. We passed it constantly on our way across Hunyadi Park to get to the market and our host’s girlfriend recommended it to us while she was over one time. One late morning we decided we were in the mood for some nice coffee and walked over after getting through some work. It’s a cute, pleasant place and our choice (tiramisu coffee) was definitely a good one. It had a great flavor. Lira Pont also offers sandwiches and many other drink choices. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, but on that particular November day we thought inside was best.
Where to find it: Hunyadi ter 5, Budapest, Hungary, 1067
Cost: Varies. It cost 750 forint ($2.58) for the drink we shared.
Cat-puccino at the Budapest Cat Cafe
Everywhere we go, I check to see if the city has a cat cafe. If they do, we try it. There are actually two cat cafes in Budapest but we decided one would be fine. I couldn’t resist getting the cat-puccino (how cute!) but Kyle got something different. They were both good but Kyle’s drink (sorry, don’t remember the name) was really good.
Where to find it:Damjanich utca 38, Budapest 1071, Hungary (The Jewish Quarter)
Cost: It cost us 1600forint (~$5.79) for both drinks and the privilege to spend time at the cafe.
Cake from Hunyadi Square Market
I’m sure you could find similar desserts at any of the markets, but Hunyadi was the closest market to us. I had to get what slightly resembled the cream cake I wanted at Ruszwurm, but the slice of cake I had another time (see below) was even better.
Where to find it: Budapest, Hunyadi tér 4, 1067 Hungary (or any other market)
Cost: The options will range from less than a dollar to a couple dollars. Mine were both at the lower end of that range.
Desserts from Grocery Store Bakeries
We tried many grocery store bakery desserts because we could just pick one or two up anytime we went to the store. Kyle’s favorite pastry which he seemed to get most times is the first one you see above. Each grocery store has a slightly different selection and we shopped at like ten different grocery stores but most of the treats came from a Roni ABC. We always picked them up with other groceries so I can’t say the exact prices but like most other things, they were pretty affordable.
Candy Bars from Grocery Stores
We could have made an entire post reviewing candy bars but we didn’t try anything weird or outrageous and we also didn’t take the time to review them so they will just go here. We found many of the same candy bars we liked so much in Serbia and then some others. The seasonal options were a special treat. There were many great flavors available including bars filled with raspberry and strawberry, caramel, etc. Yum! You can find different candy bars at any grocery or convenience store.
Does this count? Because it is sweet and amazing. It is perfect for walking around the Christmas markets.
After deciding the New York Cafe was too posh for us we searched for several ice cream places only to find them closed (it was late at night). So we went to Burger King.
Muffin from Unknown
I don’t remember where I got this muffin. It was not the best muffin.
We also saw into both the New York Cafe (known as the “most beautiful cafe in the world”), and the Alexandra Book Cafe and both were stunning. When we passed by we never felt that we were dressed well enough and, especially for the New York Cafe, the prices were on the high side but if you can manage I would recommend either of them just for the experience of dining in such an extravagant place.
With my new job keeping us squarely in California for the moment, I have been getting a little more experience in doing some video editing. I know we haven’t put up as many posts lately, we’ve just been busy is all, but I have taken the time to make a cool video presentation about one of our favorite cities: Seoul, South Korea.
I hope you enjoy, and if you all like this, I’ll make more of these for some of our other locations we’ve visited.
“Ever since I was a young boy I played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all. But I ain’t seen nothing like him, in any amusement hall. That deaf, dumb, blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!”
Okay, not really. I rarely ever got the chance to play real pinball machines, but I always did enjoy the few opportunities I got. More often, I played the pinball games that used to come for free on old Windows computers.
So when I found out that Budapest was home to Europe’s largest pinball museum, I decided that it was a must do activity. Briana wasn’t convinced at first, but it only took a little goading before she was ready to go as well.
We decided to put it off until towards the end of our stay. We decided that we wanted to do this later on because it was an indoor activity and it would not be affected by cold weather or rain. This way, we could do our outdoor activities while the weather was more amiable.
As the last few weeks approached, we finally elected to make our way to play the machines. We built it into a trip that stopped by a local mall before arriving to the museum. The mall was pretty large, but the food was lacking in vegetarian options for Briana, so we ended up leaving a little disappointed but ready for the games.
The pinball museum wasn’t too much further, in fact just about a kilometer down the road from the mall. Upon arriving though, we discovered along with some kids that the museum was closed. The sign on the door stated that it was closed for a local convention that was currently under way and would not be reopened for another few days.
Disgruntled, we proceeded on to grab a donut, walk along the waterfront of the Danube and look at the city lights. We would not give up though. We were determined to make it, and would not be put off from visiting.
We made another attempt about a week later. Initially, we were going to attempt a day or so earlier to that, but I was hit with a nasty case of Noravirus (to the best of my knowledge), so we had to put it off until I was physically capable of moving. After partially recovering, we made our way to visit the museum, which was open this time.
We came to the front door, and descended down the steps to the basement of the building where the museum was located. Immediately, the sound of bells, whistles, and electronic buzzers filled the air as we made our way to the front desk. We purchased our tickets to the museum for HUF 2500 (~$8) each. The tickets have gone up since we visited however – as of January 1st, 2017. This seems to be the case across Budapest, regardless it is still pretty cheap as far as similar game halls go.
The tickets allow you free reign of the numerous pinball machines and games that range from the early 1900s to now. The machines are free to play and you can just play all you want. We made our way through each room playing a good majority of the machines. It was really awesome, because there was so much variety. The difficulty level changed dramatically across them, so if you lost quickly on one, you didn’t feel like you wasted your money, because it was free and you could just go to an easier one.
But there weren’t just pinball machines, although that was the primary game available. There were also other arcade games, the names of which I couldn’t tell you, but were just as fun to play. There were even a few older games such as the original Mortal Kombat.
While there were plenty of kids there, and it was geared towards kids – anyone of any age would have fun there. We spent several hours playing before we decided it was time to go. We could have spent longer if we’d wished, but we were starting to get a little tired – I was still a little weak from my previous sickness. All in all, a very successful and fun outing.
If you’re in Budapest for any lengthy duration and you want an activity away from the sightseeing, you should absolutely check out the pinball museum. It’s a great evening activity, as it’s open late:
The roundup is later than normal not because it took me longer to write it but because I forgot to post it (it’s actually been sitting here ready to be posted for several days-oops). Anyway, back in the last roundup in October I mentioned that we weren’t really sure what was going to happen in the following few months and it could have gone many different ways but in the end Kyle was offered the job in California and now here we are sitting in our very own apartment in San Jose. I haven’t decided if I’ll be continuing the roundups after this but if I do they’ll be a little different because we are no longer traveling full time. I originally wrote this to be very long with the full format for both November and December but I changed it to November and an abbreviated version for December. I hardly got on my computer the first few weeks in December which is why the November roundup didn’t get up then. We kept ourselves busy both months and, as per normal, there are various of things I will probably leave out of the post simply because it’s already going to be long and I have to use some discretion.
Where We’ve Been
31 days in Budapest (part day plus a flight with a short layover in Oslo before arriving in Orlando to be picked up and brought to Jacksonville)
8 days in Florida (specifically: Fleming Island, Niceville, and Destin)
3 days on the road including a night in San Antonio and a night in Tucson
19 days in San Jose, CA
Distance Traveled by..
November Foot Over 100 miles
December Plane 5,525 miles Car ~3,000 miles
November: 1. The Christmas Markets! They’ll get their own post but we went to multiple Christmas markets within Budapest and we went to the one in Vorosmarty Ter three times. I really enjoyed everything about them, especially the mulled wine! 2. The Baths. We tried to go to a different, cheaper public bath but it didn’t work out (we’ll write about that later) so we thought, you know what, let’s just splurge and do Szechenyi. It’s iconic Budapest (at least for tourists) and we already wanted to at least see it (which itself costs money) so we went there. We had a great time! 3. Margaret Island. I am sure this place is nice year-round but it was just lovely in the Fall. There is a bunch of different stuff to see/do there, but this too will get its own post. 4. Gellert Hill Outing. Before we went to Budapest I saw a picture of a place in the city on Pinterest and thought ‘I want to go there!’ so I asked my mom to ask Jutid where it was and she said it was Gellert Hill. It was just as beautiful in person and luckily I feel we were able to capture that with our camera. 5. Pinball Museum. My favorites games there were actually the non-pinball games like shooting and bowling but we both had fun. 6. The Great Market Hall. 7. Trash day, also known as lomtalanítás. This was unexpected and interesting. 8. Ice skating. Okay, another slight splurge, but where else are we going to get a chance to ice-skate in front of a castle?? 9. Sweets. Everything from the grocery store bakery section sweets, to candy, to ice cream, to the market desserts, to a Tiramisu coffee, we enjoyed many different sweets this month. 10. Panineria. We ate here the night before we left and Kyle just raved about his sandwich. Mine was also good and I especially liked the dessert.
December: Our highlights included seeing people and pets, Christmas celebrations and Christmas decorations/displays, nice gifts, heated seats, good views on our drive, finding a place (and one with a washer and dryer and a dishwasher), having our things, food and drink, knitting and playing instruments, the mountains, making a couple travel videos (did you see our spin video and follow video?) because it’s fun for me, and Kyle liking his job so far.
November was fun, but various things (see lowlights) also interfered with plans at times. They’re not in chronological order. 1. Sick/Virus. Look up norovirus. I don’t know for sure if it’s what we had but basically those symptoms. First Kyle got it and then after a few days I contracted it from him. It was just terrible. You pretty much don’t stop throwing up for the first 12-24 hours and it’s just exhausting. I think Kyle stopped throwing up after his initial time period but I continued beyond this, just with longer intervals in between. Between us we were out for a week and it took longer than that to feel all the way better. 2. Workers Outside. Really not a big deal but the workers outside could be kind of loud in the morning which would wake us up. A couple days they also actually blocked our door painting or something so we were not able to leave. 3. Planning Stress. First there was the wait to see if he really had the job and then we were waiting on a finalized start date while also trying to plan our time in Florida and getting across country while not knowing just what awaited us in terms of how much stuff we would need to do in each place (Kyle’s parents’, my mom’s, my dad’s, and my grandma’s), what my parents’ work schedules might require, etc. We were also trying to figure out whether or not a stop in Orlando was realistic, decide if Kyle was trading his car with his parents, decide if we were or were not going to take both cars and cats on our initial drive across country and the implications for which hotels we could stay at, figure out if we could tow one car, and estimate how long we should book a place/how long we’d be apartment hunting. We were also trying to look at apartments online but the rents changing by hundreds per month from day to day (at the same places) and we were trying to figure out if we really could live alone or needed roommates especially not knowing what exactly the wage would be at that time, and so on. 3. Knocked Down. When we decided we were done ice-skating Kyle said he wanted to go one more time around so I said that’s fine but I am tired and went and sat down. After he was done he told me I needed to do the same. I said I didn’t want to but he said I must so fine I went on the rink and within about fifteen seconds this little girl flies out of nowhere into my legs and knocks me hard to the ground. It hurt and my hand bled and I experienced pain in my hand for many days and a mark for a couple weeks. And that was just a couple hours before I got sick. 4. Not Getting In. The first time we went to the Pinball Museum it was closed for an event (not disclosed on their website or any of their social media because we checked) which was pretty upsetting because we planned our whole day around it but we did end up going back on a day it was open. Then there was the NY Cafe, the most beautiful cafe in the world. We tried to go in one night and wow, we felt so out of place and underdressed we had to leave immediately. We were really in the mood for ice cream, though, so we searched Maps for another ice cream place but saw it had already closed so then we searched for another but when we arrived it was closed too. So then we went to Burger King and got ice cream there which was pretty good. 5. Souvenirs. Just all the cool stuff we didn’t or couldn’t get for ourselves or others (like the item in the cover photo) because they were too big, too fragile, etc.
December: Our lowlights for December included not having as much time as we wanted with family and friends, not having enough time to go through all my stuff or the room for all of it, getting sick again (me)- I had a cold in Niceville and pretty much literally did not stop blowing my nose on the entire car ride across country, Kyle’s wage being lower than he was originally told (though it was balanced by cheaper insurance and better benefits but was initially a concern), moving expenses, us planning our schedules around a particular work date and then arriving to California only for his work to tell him they changed it meaning not only could we have done things a little differently (though it did work out well) but he also was not getting paid for those two days which we were sort of counting on, not getting holiday pay for two four day weekends and one three day weekend because he had not been in the system long enough, finding out he won’t get paid at all until mid-January, and finding out that we are missing a bunch of stuff (such as most of our tupperware, our crock pots, some mugs, our ladle, a few small souvenirs from Budapest we had in the car, and some things I hope are somewhere at my parents’ places but that I didn’t come across).
First time having mulled wine.
Kyle’s first Christmas market.
Kyle first time ice skating in a foreign country (it might have been mine too but I don’t remember). What is crazy is that he never went ice-skating at all until he was in college!
Kyle’s first time having a curly mustache. December
Farthest north we’ve been together (Oslo).
First time with our own place that we are renting long-term while married (lol).
First time seeing Augustine lights (me).
Kyle first time donating his hair.
Interestingly NOT our first time driving across country from FL to CA nor our first time moving to San Jose.
November cost $1085.56. Accommodation The cost of our place for the month was $530. Yes, one of our more expensive places, but worth it. We didn’t actually pay that this month and instead paid our final payment of $180 towards it which brings our actual spendings down to $738.56 this month. Food Wow, so uh, we spent $181.96 on groceries this month. We were pretty amazed last month when we only spent $235 and this month we significantly cut that! And everywhere (including the market near us) took cards so there were only a couple time we had to use cash so we can see our spendings online. I don’t really understand how we spent so little but I think a few things played a role. Kyle barely ate at all for like a week (when we were sick). Illness has never been able to keep me from eating so I did eat (especially kiwis which I was craving like crazy) in between throwing up but I also ate less for a few days. Another idea: I wouldn’t have thought this would have played a role but we literally went to the store like every day so maybe that somehow helped us keep our costs down too. We also shopped around- for example, the avocados were way cheaper at the market than at the grocery store. There were like five to seven different grocery stores we went to based on what we wanted/needed and prices. The specific dishes we were making may also have been playing a role. I mean, we do try to be careful with our spendings but I feel we used a similar level of care in each location. Maybe groceries are just cheaper in Serbia and Hungary than we realized. I mean we look at the prices of everything when we buy it but with us moving locations and the currencies and exchange rates changing everywhere it can be confusing. I think certain currencies make us more frugal than others for whatever reason. Of course, that was not all we spent on food. We also spent $55.68 on food out including 9 ice creams, 2 donuts, a chimney cake, langos, coffee, mulled wine, a pita, a piece of pizza, a kebab, fisherman’s soup in a bread bowl, a burger, 3 sandwiches, 2 fries, a salad, and another dessert. So we spent $237.64 total on food. Entertainment/Outings We tend to like to keep this pretty low due to the number of free and cheap activities available in many regions but in Budapest more activities require fees (there are even parks which require you to pay to enter there) and some activities are expensive. We chose not to do a couple things we were interested in due to price but we weren’t going to go there to not do things. We ended up spending $87.83. If we hadn’t got sick and had the construction workers blocking our door it would have been higher though because we had several more things we really wanted to do which cost money such as the Bear Sanctuary and a couple of caves close to Obuda. We just didn’t get a chance before we left. Regular stuff$141.44 for storage, Netflix, Google Storage, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud. Miscellaneous$75.77 on souvenirs, gifts, and developing a little bit of film. Fees$12.88
Now for December. Because we are no longer traveling, even if I continue the roundups I will no longer be disclosing these relatively full, informative financial reports because it would probably be weird. If we are able to travel I might talk about the cost of trips, though and I will still note things of significance like wow we only spent so much on this or wow this was so much.
The December budget was pretty significant. WE SPENT MORE MONEY THAN WE HAVE EVER SPENT IN A SINGLE MONTH EVER (I have been tracking our spendings for years but even if I hadn’t this would be obvious). That amount of money would have lasted us months traveling (UGH). And we basically couldn’t work the entire month, though we both got paid a very small bit for things we did last month. Costs included everything from the apartment stuff (application fee, deposit, rent for December, rent for January), transportation stuff (driving across country, renting a uHaul, the smog test, registration, a new license, etc.), a place to stay while looking for a place (less than a week at one of the cheapest Airbnbs we could find still came close to what we were often paying for a place per month abroad in Asia), bills for electricity and internet already coming in, all of our regular expenses, food, and more.
Kyle: Work for me over these past two months has been a little weird, but then it always seems to be a little weird. I finished up a large project in November and began another large project which has just wrapped up now after the holidays. I’m happy to report that both ultimately went off without a hitch, although there was some last minute understandings on the first project that did get taken care of. As well I had some work from one of my regular clients that I was able to finish up as we left Budapest and took care of packing in Florida. I’m happy to report that I have been hired as an artist at the University of California Santa Cruz and the role itself is great, but I will miss the regular travel. Briana: I don’t feel like writing a lot more just to say the same things I’ve said most other months. Pretty much things were the same for November. I was unable to work in December, especially at the beginning. If I had chosen to work I couldn’t have taken care of the things I needed to do and I would have had to basically ignore our families to earn a low wage so I lost my clients. I can still do my flashcards though and I did one set at the end of the month. I can also still log onto a tutor site and wait to see if anyone needs help with something within my knowledge base. I tried to find some community college teaching jobs which I’d be qualified for which would be starting the Spring semester but I only found one which I did not get. Obviously we were busy with all kinds of other stuff this month and I also worked on the travel videos and other things.
Health and Fitness
As I said above, we walked well over 100 miles in November alone in Budapest. We did our first hike back in California on the day after Christmas. Since we have gotten settled Kyle has started working out a little bit everyday and I have been trying to stretch a little everyday. It was fairly rare for us to do any exercising, stretching, yoga, etc. on our travels because of many reasons which varied by time and place but now we can more easily get back into doing these things. It helps that we have carpet. In terms of food we have been making more Mexican food but we are still eating pretty healthy.
Next Month/Next year
What’s in store for next month? We will continue to get back into the swing of the ‘normal’ life, though I think we’re pretty much already there. We both have so much more time than we did while traveling which is really nice. I’ll explain the reasons in another post. We’ll be further organizing and decorating our place and doing our regular hikes. Hopefully my car and our furry friends will be arriving. In terms of the blog, I will probably be working on articles about the year, maybe a “year roundup” and/or travel superlatives (our favorite cities, food, etc. from the past year), possibly one on our overall travel budget, things we’d do differently, and so on. Of course, there are lots of other articles Kyle has been wanting me to write that I have been putting off for many months ago, such as the Batu Caves, Angkor Wat, and so on. So we’ll see. Kyle will probably be writing more on Serbia and Hungary.