Travel Tuesday: Budapest

Happy Travel Tuesday! This week I’ll tell you about my trip to Budapest, Hungary.

As it turns out, I’m really horrible at geography and I’m even worse at history. (I was asleep a lot…) Teenage Lisa really wasn’t interested in European history and College Lisa decided to take History of New York , so it’s fair to say there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of European history, including the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. When I decided to embark on this journey to Prague, I imagined lots of gray. Just…everywhere. Buildings, clothing, food, whatever. I’d done my research (into brunch spots and coffeeshops, obviously the important stuff) but I figured those were the exceptions. Instead, Prague turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities I visited while in Europe.

Now, Budapest.

Budapest looks the way I thought Prague would. There’s a lot of gray. Where I was traveling, of course. I can’t speak to the entire city, but certainly not as colorful as Prague is. The two cities are often compared and whether that’s fair or not, I can’t say, but Prague was my point of reference, so there it is. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful in its own way, though, quite the opposite. Enough prologue, though, let’s get to it.

Where We Stayed

After my week long solo trip to Spain and Portugal, it was nice to go on this trip with my friends and Husband. We decided to stay at an Airbnb in the Josefov neighborhood. It was a super cozy space and since we were only there for the weekend, it was exactly what we needed.

What We Did 


This building is huge! Also, it’s pretty cool to look at, which is really all we could do. We only spent a couple of minutes here.


Castle Hill

Home to Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Holy Trinity Column. This is the go-to spot in Budapest for tourists. Be sure to take the funicular for a cutesy (albeit short) experience.

My personal favorite was the Holy Trinity Column. We didn’t go inside, but the colors and architecture of this building were really beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Fisherman’s Bastion is a cool piece of architecture as well, but I was more interested in its maze-like passages that made it seem like I was in some sort of medieval labyrinth.

Buda Castle has the most amazing view of the city. We happened to get there as the sun was setting and the street lights were coming on and it was gorgeous.

Thermal Baths

You can’t come to Budapest and not try at least one thermal bath. We managed to squeeze in visits to two. These thermal baths are said to have healing properties. I can’t say that I necessarily felt healed, but given the fact that it was cold and snowy the entire weekend we were here, it was definitely a welcome reprieve from the weather.

The first one we went to was Gellert Spa and Bath. Simply put, it was a fantastic time. There are different rooms that house different baths of varying temperatures. There are also steam rooms, saunas, and even ice baths. (You have to try it! I’m not saying you’ll like it, but definitely worth trying once in your life.) On top of that, it’s really just beautiful. The green and blue hues and fountains make for a really luxurious time.

The second one we went to (in the snow) was the Szechenyi Bath. This is one of the famed outdoor baths, with good reason. I was really nervous to go out into the snow in my bikini to make it down the stairs to the pool, but what a unique experience. The bath, of course, is super warm, but with the steam rising from the pool, you’ll quickly forget that it’s freezing outside and just get to relax. Getting out of course, is a mission. Inside, I’ll say that I liked Gellert Spa and Bath’s offerings a bit more, but Szechenyi also had some cool features. In addition to steam rooms and saunas, there was a color room and showers that alternated cold and hot water.  Definitely a can’t miss if you’re in Budapest.


Where I Ate (and Drank!)


Stika is the sort of place that wouldn’t be out of place in gentrified Brooklyn. Minimalist decor, tons of different coffee options made by the bearded and tattooed barista, etc. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my brunch here, I’m just painting a picture for you. I got my brunch go-to, eggs benedict and chai latte. The eggs benedict were great, the chai latte was just okay. There was a bit of a wait, but not too unbearable. It was a nice start to the day.

Steg Fish Bar

I read about this place on Great Trips’ Instagram and it came in handy when we were starving after visiting Gellert. We wanted to try something Hungarian, but something also a little modern and Steg was the best of both worlds. I ordered  fish soup and a wrap. Both were pretty good, but I think I liked the fish soup more. It was something new and had a nice kick. Bonus points for having games on the tables and for fantastic service.

Szimpla Kert

Budapest is famous for what are known as ruin bars. Started out in abandoned, run down buildings, they’re known for their cheap drinks and quirky decor. Szimpla Kert is credited as being one of the very first ruin bars. It’s really a sight to behold, with art, signs, objects, and lights everywhere – on the walls, ceilings, every single nook and cranny. It’s wild. There are also live performances, but we didn’t get to see any when we were there. We were there on a Saturday night, so it was pretty busy, but not packed to the point where you couldn’t move.


Budapest was such a fun trip and really took me by surprise. I can’t wait to visit again in the warmer weather.







Travel Tuesday: Lisbon (and Sintra!)

Even though I’m Stateside again (Surprise! Long story, whatever), I  still have a few more fantastic travel tales to share with you guys, so I’ll be sharing them on #traveltuesdays with my recommendations and experiences.

This week in Lisbon. In planning out my trip, everyone I spoke to had nothing but amazing things to say about Lisbon. How beautiful it is, how much fun it is, etc. Something I learned about myself while abroad is managing my expectations. It’s probably something I should’ve done with Lisbon. *hides from angry mob*

Let’s start at the beginning. So, I’d just come from having the time of my life in Madrid (see post here) . I took an overnight bus – worst sleep ever – to arrive bright and early at about 7 and make my way over to my hostel.

Where I Stayed 

If you remember from the Madrid post, I really loved my hostel, Safestay Madrid (also known as Equity Point Lisbon. I dunno.) . I was excited then when I was headed to Safestay Lisbon.  In case you don’t know, Lisbon has a lot of stairs. Like A LOT. I’d just gotten off of this overnight bus and now have to drag myself up all these stairs, I was huffing and puffing like a creeper when the employee got to the door. All I wanted to do was sleep. But check in wasn’t until 2 pm. Any museums I might want to check out didn’t open until 10 am so,  I ended up just hanging out in the common area with my Kindle Fire plugged in watching Netflix.

Once I was checked in (at exactly 2 pm!), I went upstairs to my room (a 12 person mixed dorm) and crashed for a few hours. I do remember hearing some loud banging like construction at some point late at night and may or may not have cursed at my fellow roommates for talking too loud. I don’t remember, so maybe it was a dream?

Gotta say, I think this was my least favorite hostel that I’ve ever stayed in.  It wasn’t terrible, but definitely not on par with their sister hostel Safestay Madrid. For starters, there aren’t outlets located next to every bed. This sounds like a first world problem, and it is, but when you’re traveling, you really need your technology to be charged so you can get from place to place. As a result, everyone is in the common area charging their stuff and not socializing. Which leads to my second point, while the hostel staff was nice when I spoke with them, they don’t actually host any events. It’s all done through another company. So you have to go out of your way to find the group and do your pub crawl or what have you. Ok, for the walking tour someone comes and gets you, but it’s not the same as having someone you may actually see again in the hostel lead you around.

What I Did

Fado at Tasca do Chico

There happened to be a flier in the hostel advertising this venue for Portugal’s famous style of music. I still had some energy after dinner and this place wasn’t too far of a walk. I felt a little awkward when I came in since someone was already singing and there was  sit, so I just stood by the doorway until the singer finished. Some other people had come in too and we were invited to come further into the venue. It’s such an intimate event, it’s really like being at someone’s family gathering, and all of their family members happened to be super talented singers and all have cds for sale. It was pretty cool to experience, even with not understanding a single word of Portuguese.

Museu Colecau Berardo 

This was actually my favorite museum that I went to in Europe. (Yes, including Academy…. in Florence) Turns out I really like contemporary art. Lots of Warhol, pop art,  and some other super cool experimental art. I spent hours here.

Day Trip to Sintra

To be honest, I think my trip to Sintra is what really made my trip to Portugal. It’s maybe an hour or so outside of Lisbon, on a train similar to Metro North. Sintra is a cute little town that’s home to Peña Palace, the Moorish Castle, and the National Palace. I did this the very day I was to fly back out to Prague so I was on a bit of a time crunch and I definitely could’ve spent more time here, but it was beautiful and I was really glad I went. Peña Palace is just so breathtaking, with its striking colors and details. I didn’t love the Moorish Castle as much, there were beautiful views, but I think I’m kind of over castles. (And yes, I realize how ridiculously arrogant that sounds. ) I didn’t go inside the National Palace, but I did sit outside and soaked up the sun – in December!!! – with a pasteis de belem and pasteis de nata in hand. It was glorious.


Where I Ate

Time Out Market

This is a huge food market, with loads of different vendors, similar to Chelsea Market downtown. I was a little hesitant to go here because I thought it might be too hipster-y or not “local” enough. But after reading up on it a bit and seeing that there’s space for real local vendors as well, I was persuaded to check it out. I tried some Stone Soup and some bacalao, both were delicious and reasonably priced.

Oficina do Duque

I found this cozy little restaurant on Yelp and decided to check it out. The service was great and the food was even better. I ordered lamb, which I never do since I’m not really a fan, but people had raved about it online so I figured it was worth a shot. It came with this mint sorbet on top and was just sooooo good. Such an unexpected, but delicious combination.

Ne Ne Restaurante 

This place was actually recommended by the walking tour guide. I sat inside and he helped me order from the daily menu (always handwritten and apparently the best deal). In addition to a full lunch, my meal also came with some tea, which if you know anything about me, you know I appreciate a nice cup of tea, especially if it’s included. It’s right by some of the more touristy sights, but the food was good and service was efficient and friendly.

Cafe Saudade

 After a packed morning seeing all of Sintra’s main attractions, I stopped here for lunch as recommended by one of my friends. For starters, the service was fantastic. So friendly and helpful (and nonjudgmental as I definitely downed that entire bottle of vinho verde by myself. Whatever. Vacation Mode.) The eclectic decor and inviting staff definitely made for a cozy atmosphere. Oh and the food was great too. It was a great place to check out right before I hopped on the train.


While I didn’t love Lisbon as much as Madrid, it was still a cool trip. I’d definitely love to go back in the summer some time.  Check out some more pictures below (including some really dope street art that was up by my hostel!)

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The Prague Socialite: Madrid

As a proud New Yorker (and Bronxite obvs), I really love visiting other cities. I’m not the kind of person that necessarily wants to escape city life when I travel. Sometimes I’m not really that impressed because I’m constantly comparing it to NYC, but other times, I just fall in love with a city’s energy, and that was my experience during my recent trip to Madrid.

I originally wanted to go to Barcelona, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go in the midst of all the stuff happening with the possible Brexit-like situation. Plus, I knew I wanted to go to Lisbon and it was simply easier (read: cheaper) to do so from Madrid. Basically, I went in with zero expectations.

Where I Stayed

I stayed in a 12 person mixed dorm at Safestay Madrid. By far, this has to be one of my best hostel experiences thus far. As a solo traveler, and one who can be particularly hesitant to socialize with others, sometimes you want to link up with someone else to check out somewhere cool, go to a bar, or just take lots of cute pictures of you as proof that you were actually there. This hostel just had a really great vibe that allowed people to meet and socialize. A huge plus for me, which I think made a huge difference, is that the events they run are hosted by the hostel employees. So you get to see them again and meet people who are actually staying at your hostel.

What I Did

Even though I was on vacation, I was still on a pretty tight budget, so I looked up free things to do in Madrid and came across this really great Time Out article that was pretty much my guide for the entire trip. My timing was actually pretty perfect because I got to visit the major museums for free.

Museo del Prado is free from 5-7 pm. You have to wait in line (I was on line for at least a half hour) because people line up very early, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s a huge museum with many classic paintings, you could definitely visit more than once to really see and appreciate everything.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (free from 7-9 pm and from 3-7 on Sundays), which had some pieces from Dali and Picasso, as well as some really cool experimental art by William Kentridge.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (free on Mondays from 12-4pm) had a mix of classic art and contemporary art. They also had a really great gift shop.

El Templo de Debod -An actual ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled and gifted to Spain as a thank you for their help in saving the Abu Simbel temples (or so Wikipedia tells me). Do yourself a favor and go at sunset. It was beautiful!



Palacio de Cristal – located in the famous Retiro Park, which is beautiful in and of itself, the palace is this beautiful, structure tucked away in a quiet location in the park. I opted not to go inside, but I think it’s even better to just appreciate it from the outside. That or I’m just a cheap bastard. Whatever.


Retiro Park – A huge park with all kinds of different amenities and things to do, kind of like our Pelham Bay Park (except, to be honest even more beautiful, but I mean there’s a palace in it!)




Where I Ate 

Alhambra – I found this place on Yelp after discussing with my new friends I met at the hostel how we all wanted to try paella during our time in Spain. In addition to the paella, the three of us decided to split a grilled meat platter for two. Oh, and a pitcher of sangria of course. Everything was soooo good, but there was so much of it, we had to take it to go.  Right when we thought we were ready to pack up and go, the waitress brought over three extra glasses of sangria for free! This is something I could definitely get used to.

El Tigre – One of my friends (Shout out to Cindy!) recommended this place and it’s where I had my final meal in Madrid before heading out to Lisbon. For the price of one drink, you’re served up a huge plate of tapas. The catch is that you don’t get to choose, but it didn’t matter. It was all delicious. Another cool thing is that the plates vary from person to person. I was served potatoes, bread and cheese, croquettes, and once I finished that, I was given a plate of stuffed mushrooms. Spain just really knows how to do hospitality. It totally changed my view on tapas.

La Campana – Just off of Plaza Mayor is a small, almost hole in the wall type of place.  The  tour guide of the walking tour I took recommended it for their squid sandwiches. It’s really just calamari on a baguette-type of bread, but it was a fresh, cheap, and filling lunch.


All in all, I think Madrid has been one of my favorite trips to date. Definitely my best solo trip thus far. Below are some other cool pictures I took while I was there. Enjoy!

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The Prague Socialite: Ciao! Milan & Florence

A couple weeks ago, I got to visit Milan and Florence for my friend Elisha’s birthday.  Obviously, I was excited to celebrate her birthday, but also of course to stuff my face with delicious Italian food and drink allllll the wine.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people who say that Florence is one their favorite cities. It’s not hard to see why – the architecture is gorgeous, the food is amazing, and you can walk everywhere.

We only spent a few hours in Milan and we saw the Duomo and walked around a bit to see some of the shopping. It was okay.  It’s very much a shopping city, and everyone is so well dressed, but since I wasn’t there to shop for luxury brand name items, there wasn’t a whole lot for us to do.


Where I Stayed:

We stayed at the Locanda Daniel hostel, which is just a short walk from the train station. It’s a small hostel, and you get that cozy feeling as though you’re staying at someone’s house. They also had probably the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on at a hostel. It’s a no frills kind of place, but it was perfect for the three nights we stayed there.

What I Did: 

We saw the Duomo, (whose detail is absolutely mind-blowing), the lush Giardino di Boboli, and of course stopped by the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the statue of David. Despite seeing pictures of the statue of David throughout my life, it was actually really impressive to see in real life. Unlike, the  Mona Lisa, which was really underwhelming when I saw it in person (like 1,000 feet away -_-).

One of my favorite things we did was actually just watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo while drinking a bottle of wine we’d brought with us.

What I Ate:

I ate so much pizza and pasta, I definitely can’t name all of the places I went to, but I’d say the best pizza I had was at a cute little restaurant called Simbiosi. It was not too far from our hostel and had a really cozy ambience. Another plus is that their ingredients were organic, which was a nice bonus (considering that when I’m eating pizza, I am really not concerned about my health!)

We also stopped by the central market for breakfast. Actually, it was only breakfast in name, being the first meal of the day in the morning. I went straight for a cannoli and some lemon gelato. It was amazing.

To be totally honest, Italy hasn’t ever been high on my list of places to go, but of course I’m so glad I went.

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The Prague Socialite: A Weekend in Bratislava

One of the best things about Prague is its central location, making it super easy to travel to other countries. In the time it would take us in the Bronx to take a bus to D.C., you could be in an entirely different country. It’s really cool. 🙂

It hasn’t been the easiest month for me, that’s a post for another day, but I felt the need to get away, so I booked a trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Because I know I was asleep in history class, I’ll give you a very brief history lesson here. The Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be one country (Czechoslovakia, which you are definitely not to call either of these countries, it’s considered a major faux pas) until they decided to separate in 1993. It’s apparently the only former socialist state to separate without violence, according to Wikipedia anyway.

Anyway, Bratislava is only about a 4 hour bus ride from Prague, so I booked some tickets and a cheap hostel and packed my book bag with a change of clothes. As much as I like to think that I’m spontaneous and go with the flow, I’m starting to just accept the fact that I like to plan things out a research information so I know what to expect. But, with all the stress I was dealing with, I literally only planned the hostel I was staying at and a brunch spot. It was actually really refreshing to just wander the city and say “Oh, that’s a cute street, I’m gonna walk over here.”

Where I Stayed:

Because I planned the trip so last minute and just needed a place to sleep for one night, a hostel was my best bet. In the States, I think hostels get such a bad rap (probably because of that movie I never saw), but I’ve been in some really great ones all over the world and they’re especially great when you’re on a budget. I stayed at Patio Hostel because of its affordability and proximity to the city center. I stayed in a mixed 6-person dorm, which consisted of bunk beds and drawer-style lockers. I always bring my own combination lock when staying at a hostel. It was okay. Literally a place to lay my head at night.The woman working at the front desk gave me some suggestions of where to go and where to eat and gave me a coupon I could use for 10% off a nearby restaurant.   They did provide a free welcome drink, which I definitely appreciated.

[I use HostelWorld to search and book hostels. I’ve used it for about five years or so and I have no complaints.]

What I Ate:

Since I still had about an hour to check in, I took my 10% off coupon and headed to Slovak Pub.  To be honest, I wasn’t super excited to check this place out because Czech food has a reputation for being very heavy – lots of meat, potatoes, and bread. So I  figured Slovak food would be similar. Thankfully, I was wrong, I got a cheesy garlic soup in a bread bowl, which would have been enough, but I was starving so I also ordered a dish with chicken and potatoes. I even got two glasses of wine for 1 Euro each. I was stuffed afterward.

Another really cool place I went to, and the only place I actually looked up beforehand was a cute, trendy restaurant called Urban House I went to on Sunday for brunch. The decor was really warm and inviting and the food was delicious. I ordered a slice of avocado toast and some eggs benedict with smoked salmon.


What I Did:

Like I said, I pretty much just showed up. So on Saturday, armed with a map from the hostel, I looked at some things that sounded interesting. I walked to the presidential palace, Bratislava Castle and gardens, the city walls, and Old Town. Sunday, it was raining so I headed to the Natural History Museum, the Nedbalka Gallery (which resembles the Guggenheim in Manhattan!) and explored the Europe Galleria mall.



As it turns out, my visit coincided with Bila Noc, an art festival that uses lights in all kinds of different ways, so I bought a ticket, and wandered around Old Town following the crowd. My favorite exhibit was a series of lights shone through e metal square with a variety of slats so a new design shone through with the changing of the lights in time with music.


Overall, it was a really great weekend trip and definitely worth a visit. I never would have though I’d find myself in Bratislava but I’m so glad I did.

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The Prague Socialite: Living in a Story Book

After two weeks, I still can’t get over how beautiful of a city Prague is. The Bronx and New York City in general is beautiful, but in such different ways. You could literally spend an entire day just gazing upwards at the buildings. Just regular buildings like the one I’m staying in have detailed statues on the outside and the buildings are just so many colors. It’s just been a fantastic two weeks meeting new people, going to all the restaurants and all the pubs. Anyhow, here’s a few photos from this past week .We went on a boat tour so I got some really great shots from the Vltava river.



The Prague Socialite : The First Week

So, it has officially been one week since I moved to Prague. It still hasn’t really set in that I’m going to be spending the next 10 or so months here, but it still has been amazing. I love architecture and I think have spent a good chunk of my time just marveling at the colors and details of the buildings. The cobblestone streets are obviously just charming by nature (that is until I go somewhere that warrants wearing heels. Then I may just need to Uber it because that’s just a skill on its own.)  I’m in class for most of the day, but I still managed to take a few pictures to share with you.