Monthly Archives: May 2018

Where I Went

When I arrived in Budapest this semester, I was not thinking about travel. This trip was my first time in Europe, and so finding myself on the continent was so exciting that I didn’t immediately consider all the different places I could go once I was here. But fortunately, I met some wonderful people who organized trips and encouraged me to go beyond Budapest–and I got hooked:

I wanted to highlight each of these places I visited on the weekends, during holidays, and over Spring Break, just to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to when I’m not holed up in my apartment doing math or wandering the streets of Budapest.

So chronologically, we begin with…

Bratislava, Slovakia

My Itinerary: Day trip (Feb 3)

Bratislava’s cool bridge (photo by Alexis Delgado)

Overall Impression: Definitely one day is enough for this city. Sleepy at night, the city offers beautiful views from the Castle Hill and, if you want to pay for it, a trip up to the top of an epic cable-stay bridge.

My Best Photo:

A large empty fountain in the middle of the city.

Best Place to Eat: Only ate at one place, but it was nice. Green Buddha.

The Thai holy basil was great.

Also, they had the most intriguing bathroom…mood lighting?

Prague, Czech Republic

My Itinerary: Two-night weekend trip (Feb 16-18)

The frightening swans along the Danube.

Overall Impression: Great trip. I recommend the Orange Hostel, right on Wenceslas Square

My Best Photo:

Hidden Gem: Not necessarily hidden, but it’s the place to go: Lucerna. They play 80’s and 90’s dance music with their original music videos. Some of the best dancing I’ve had here in Europe.

Best Place to Eat: Chimney cake stands. You should try one while you’re here.

Thought this was good.


Berlin, Germany

My Itinerary: Two-night weekend trip (Feb 23-25)

Seth, Caroline, and me

Overall Impression: Wonderful trip. This was my fourth weekend in a row traveling, so I had the routine down pat. We saw sunset at the Reichstag—if you are going to Berlin, make sure to go online to request free tickets in advance—and saw some of the major monuments of the city. Also, Caroline and I went on a great run, and we all celebrated Seth’s birthday.

My Best Photo:

Certainly not a unique photo, but an interesting view of Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (notice the lighter pools of light at corridor intersections)

Hidden Gem: The Spy Museum is not hidden (you’ll see advertisements for it everywhere), but it was a great museum. I was impressed with the setup and fascinated by all the stories of spies and espionage.

Best Place to Eat: Lon Men’s, from earlier post.

Me and the Berlin Wall.


Vienna, Austria

My Itinerary: Two-night weekend trip (Mar 2-4)

A train yard in Vienna.

Overall Impression: Similar to Budapest, with a better paint job. Travel tip: The Mozart house (where he composed when he was in the city) has a bathroom upstairs that you don’t have to pay for if you just walk in. Try to walk around the city.

My Best Photo:

I loved seeing these around the city. Alexis even got a picture of a couple hold hands next to one.

Hidden Gem: The coolest part of our trip was our reason for going. The band Alvvays performed at the Flex club on the Danube as part of the tour for their album Antisocialites. First, they’re an excellent band (check them out on Spotify). Second, the location was very interesting. I recommend trying to find a concert to go to if you’re in Europe. It’s always (alvvays?) fun to have a reason for travelling to a specific destination.

Best Place to Eat: Daily Imbiss, which I mentioned in an earlier blog post


Copenhagen, Denmark

My Itinerary: Spring Break. Four nights (Mar 23-26)

Cool bridges are everywhere in the city.

Overall Impression: A very cloudy but homey city. I stayed with Zaynab and her host family in the outskirts of the city, where it honestly looked like parts of the Midwest. We biked around the city, had great food, went to museums, and even attended Danish Zumba!

My Best Photo:

While biking 🙂

Hidden Gem: The David Collection. This private collection of Islamic art is impressive and excellently presented. Zaynab and I wandered around for hours with our high-tech informational tablets. I definitely recommend the room in which the curators display art related to each facet of the religion of Islam. Best part: the collection is free to visit.

Best Place to Eat: At one of the stands in the glass market. There you can try a asdfkjalsdf, a traditional Danish open-face sandwich.

In Free Christiania, the independent state within the city of Copenhagen.


Madrid, Spain

My Itinerary: Spring Break (continued). Three nights (Mar 26-29)

Lachlan at his palace, the Palacio Real

Overall Impression: Stepping off of the plane into a warm city was incredible after the longer-than-expected winter in Budapest and the consistently overcast weather in Copenhagen. Both Seth and I had a wonderful time staying with Tom, Christa, and Lachlan in their Airbnb, exploring the city and eating good food.

My Best Photo:

One of the Easter marches.

Hidden Gem: Since we were visiting the week before Easter, we were able to see several religious parades with elaborate floats carried on the backs of several dozen people.

Best Place to Eat: Celso y Manolo. Also, be sure to go to a vermouth bar!

The panorama got a little messed up at the end, but it gets the vibe.


Barcelona, Spain

My Itinerary: Spring Break (continued). Two nights (Mar 30-Apr 1)

El Born, which used to be an open-air market.

Overall Impression: This was the very end of my trip. I took the high-speed train (up to 200 mph) connecting Madrid to Barcelona, which was awesome. Once in the city, I met up with Caroline and we went to the Sagrada Familia, and several other famous Gaudi-designed buildings. We also ran on the beach and walked through the medieval parts of the city.

My Best Photo:

As a storm approached, I got both of these shots.

Hidden Gem: Hiking up the hill to the Montjuïc Castle at sunset was a great adventure. Got these pictures before and after the sunset.

Best Place to Eat: Tapas on the Carrer del Blai.



Kraków, Poland

My Itinerary: Four nights (Apr 28 – May 1)

Overall Impression: I went with Alexis, Caroline, and Kim, Caroline’s mom, to this very interesting city. We took a tour of the city (I recommend going on one of the free walking tours that are offered), visited the Auschwitz concentration camp complexes, and went underground to see the salt mines under the city.

My Best Photo:

One of the most intriguing street performers I’ve seen.

Hidden Gem: We were there during the Off Camera film festival. If you’re in the city when this is going on, I recommend that you check it out! You can see some fascinating film, like the horror film we saw: Beast. Also, I would recommend the Lost Soul’s Alley, if you’re up for a haunted house—and try the yellow level if you’re adventurous.

Best Place to Eat: The restaurant Curry House was a solid choice.

Révfülöp, Lake Balaton, Hungary

My Itinerary: One-night weekend trip (May 12-13)

On our way!

Overall Impression: Alexis and I decided to go on this final trip outside of Budapest two weeks before leaving (most of us are staying in the city during this final weekend here). We took a regional train and stayed on the beach most of the time, reading and swimming in the nice and shallow water.

My Best Photo:

Hidden Gem: It was clear from the food carts and water slide that this town is a popular destination during the summer. But visiting in mid-May, we had the perfect combination of nice weather and peaceful beaches. I got sunburned like never before, but I’ve learned my lesson.

Best Place to Eat: Gomba Étterem, the calzone was just what I wanted.

~ ~ ~

It was fun traveling around Europe, but I think that my favorite place is Budapest. Nowhere like home.



Just a couple days ago while going to my bus after class, I passed a neatly-dressed older woman on the street. As I was walking towards her, she stopped suddenly. Then she stepped over to a windowsill on which a large slice of bread sat. She picked it up, turned it over in her hands, considered it thoroughly, and put it back down. I honestly thought she was going to eat it. Now, I won’t say that I have high standards—I don’t—but I personally have not extended the five-second rule to mysterious bread slices on Bethlen Gábor utca left out for an indeterminate amount of time. As we passed, I think I was watching her with a dumbfounded expression because I tripped on the sidewalk and she gave me a what’s-wrong-with-you? look.

While I am still confused by the whole situation, I definitely am glad that she made the choice that she did. Some things are better left to the pigeons.

I think that my parents will be happy to hear that my standards are still firmly above the bread-off-the-street level. In fact, I’m proud to report that we’ve had some great homemade meals this semester. I know that restaurant food generally gets the attention during study abroad, but I wanted to highlight the fun of cooking and eating for oneself in Budapest.


Getting ingredients to cook here can be a lot of fun. There are grocery stores on nearly every block in central Pest, so it’s easy to find a small neighborhood Spar, Tesco, or Aldi to walk to. Even better, however, are the markets around the city. Vendors set up shop inside large wrought iron structures to sell everything from produce and bread to meat and spices. These were the places where I really had to practice my Hungarian–certainly no one spoke English!

Something to keep in mind: the key to food shopping in Hungary is to arrive early. The markets and grocery stores generally open at 6am, and most don’t replenish their stocks by the end of the day. While I could never wake up quite that early to get my bananas and cauliflower, it is good to remember that the early bird does indeed get the worm.

Shopping at the Rákoczi market


Our friend group has had several potlucks over the course of the semester. I think that our final one will actually be happening tomorrow–brunch, as it turns out! It’s been a great way to stay in regular contact with everyone from my language course at the beginning of the semester.

Featured here: Indian curry and chicken, rice, soup, and a peanut noodle salad.

Memorable Meals

In no particular order, some memorable foods I have made or people have made for me.

The largest single meal that I made–other than sesame chicken for a potluck–was an egg bake. Want to guess how many eggs?

26. 26 eggs. I definitely recommend egg bakes for high quantity food production.

One of Alex’s gourmet mushroom cheeseburgers.


Sometimes we make mistakes as we cook. What I thought was a wrapped package of ground beef turned out to be baloney. C’est la vie, it still made for good pasta.


And see? The next time I was able to identify the ground beef. Remember, study abroad is about challenge and growth!


The homemade alfredo pasta that I could never achieve, by master chef Sina

Homemade Japanese curry and panko chicken with miso soup by Andy and Vincent, also something that I could never make.

When we have no toaster, we sometimes also make mistakes while trying to make toast with an oven…

…and sometimes we make those mistakes more than once. Challenge and growth, people, challenge and growth!


Needless to say, this has been an exciting semester for food. I’m guessing that you’ve seen enough food reading these posts to make you hungry–I have–so let’s go have lunch, shall we?

This will be the last week of my blog, but I anticipate writing on a couple more topics. I am planning on writing two shorter posts intended to (1) help students considering BSM determine whether the program is right for them and to (2) give some recommendations to future BSM students on how to prepare for and be successful in the BSM program. This may be relevant to current readership, but is intended for underclass college students. But in addition, I’ll be writing a culminating post at the end of the week. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!


*drumroll* Best Desserts!

…and we continue our culinary tour with some of my most memorable desserts. For those of you who requested to read about some of my food experiences, I’ll try to throw in some food critic buzzwords to keep it interesting.

The Perníčkův Sen Gingerbread Store, Prague: Best Smell

The gingerbread was okay.

The Cakes of Magveto Café: Best Taste

The cakes at Magveto Café, our hangout and study spot in downtown Pest, are some of the best around. Among my favorites: a simple but wonderful apple cake, a traditional Hungarian poppyseed cake, carrot cake, and a caramel dark-chocolate tart. After finishing a particularly difficult math problem set, I often celebrate with a slice. So when I heard from one of my roommates that the cafe receives a cake delivery every morning, I was intrigued. Where could they come from? More importantly, how could I get my cake directly from the supplier?

I asked the proprietor of Magveto, Péter, what bakery supplied their baked goods. He told me, but my plans to cut out the middleman were foiled. Apparently his friend bakes them in her home every morning and brings them to the café herself.

Alas, I’ll just have to break in and take them from her.

A slice of Magveto carrot cake.

Bertels Kager Frederiksberg Cheesecake, Copenhagen: Best Texture

Some truly inspired cheesecake. I loved the mouth-feel.

Ah, and the plating is superb.

Dessert Tapas Barcelona: Most Exciting

I love tapas. These little, one-euro desserts were absolutely worth it. Why can’t we buy everything in one-euro bites?

Budapest Spring Market, Kings’ Marzipan: Most Decadent

Spring in Budapest is so different than the winter. In March, once the weather hesitantly crept above freezing, the city leapt into action. Early in the semester, we could do some research and find a few interesting cultural events happening around the city each week. Now, it’s impossible to keep track of all of them. In fact, as I write this post, I’m sitting at a café waiting for a concert at Café Frei celebrating the “Night of Coffeehouses” festival in Budapest. They just seem to want to celebrate everything with a festival!

The beginning of this transition to Festival Season in Budapest was marked by the opening of the Spring/Easter Market in downtown Pest. Featuring stalls with art, pottery, clothing, and food, it was quite the spectacle. By now, we’re used to it.

I decided to try a Whisky Truffle Marzipan from Kings’ Marzipan, and I think it was the most decadent food I’ve tasted since coming here.


Levendula Ice Cream: Most Innovative

For the first half of the semester, my roommates and I would often stop on the way home for a 300-forint rétés (Hungarian strudel). But once warmer weather came around and Levendula opened for the season, we immediately switched our biweekly investment for this excellent 300-forint ice cream.

The variety is fantastic. While it’s hard to choose, my favorite flavors are Strawberry-Ginger, Lemon-Mint, Toffee, and–at the very top of the list–Gorgonzola, which is now tied with Tumeric for my favorite ice cream flavor.

In the next installment, we get a little closer to home. In fact, we go home, to my apartment, for some of what I’ve cooked up while abroad.



And the Winner Is…

The beginning of study abroad can be disorienting. Upon my arrival in Budapest–a city unlike any other, on a continent I had never visited–there was so much to explore. There was a lot to do, but I definitely had a top priority. My first self-assigned task was to take several long walks around the city, looking at the apartment blocks and offices, and wandering around public buildings. Once I had a sense of how Budapest was built, I felt like I started to know the city’s culture better.

A couple months later, I was sitting outside BSM between classes with Alex and we were talking about how people get to know a culture. While we both had experienced many facets of the city, we noticed that each person we knew seemed to have a different first priority—a cultural point of entry. For some it’s music or dance. For others it can be literature or sports. For me, the point of entry was architecture. Alex knew immediately what it was for himself: food.

Eating food is a central part of a culture, and certainly one of the important ways in which I have gotten to know Budapest. So today, I plan on publishing several blog posts on food. And just because I think it makes it more exciting, it will be a competition: the top ten dishes I have eaten while abroad, the best desserts, and the most memorable homemade dishes, as well as some well-deserved honorable mentions. I suggest you eat something now, or prepare to be hungry!

Note: We are serious about delving into this topic. The photos will be centered around FOOD, not friends, fun, or other distractions. The following top ten list was based on a holistic evaluation of my culinary experience of the dish (i.e. I have no idea of how to rank food).

Without any further ado, let us begin…


10. Kisharang Étkezde, Budapest

This restaurant, located near St. Steven’s Basilica and run by a Hungarian couple, is one of the few traditional Hungarian restaurants at which I have eaten. We’ve noticed during our time here that Hungarians don’t go out to eat Hungarian cuisine, only tourists do. When Budapestens want Hungarian, I suppose they cook it themselves!

I have had several meals here, but the best was the so-called “Salty Crepe.”

One of the only photos of a person–we’re serious about food here, remember?–but it was lovely to have Zaynab here for a weekend back in March!

A pork-stuffed crepe with cheese and paprika sauce, wonderful! Paired with a homemade raspberry soda with real raspberries.

9. Menyország Szíve, Budapest

Did you know that food that Americans would label “organic” is called “bio” in most of Europe? So organic milk will often be proudly labeled “bio-milk.”I discovered this “bio-store” and vegan restaurant just two days ago, but it was good enough to displace another contender on this list. A perfect balance of different tastes and textures–just what you hope from a hole-in-the-wall discovery!

Beans, a plantain side, this nut and eggplant thing–ugh, so good

8. Hummusbar, Budapest

This has been a regular stop for lunch and dinner in Budapest. Located in the seventh district, near the so-called Jewish Quarter, hummusbar is an easy, filling option. They also give you a small cup of tea as you order–very classy.

My favorite, the falafel plate. Just chickpeas, through and through.

7. Lon Men’s, Berlin

When I went to Berlin with Caroline, a fellow BSM-er, to visit Seth, a friend from back home, our first dinner was at Lon Men’s, a Taiwanese dim sum restaurant in the Charlottenburg neighborhood. It was quite good–I would recommend it if you’re in the area!

Seth, Caroline and myself having a jolly time

6. Bors Gastro Bar, Budapest

Located on trendy Kazinczy utca, Bors (pronounced ‘borsh’) is an unusual street food sandwich shop. Their tiny Star Wars-themed restaurant is always crammed with people looking to buy one of their creative sandwiches and a cup of soup.

The “French Lady” baguette, with beef, onions, and a raspberry compote is the best option, hands down.


5. Daily Imbiss, Vienna

After visiting Schöenbrunn Palace–the residence of Maria Theresa during her reign as Austro-Hungarian Empress–Alex, Sam and I decided to eat lunch at this small restaurant about a block away. Certainly it was the best snap decision of the trip. The chicken tikka masala was fantastic!

I wish I could go back and eat there once more…

4. City Gyros™, Budapest

When I said in a previous blog post that 25% of my diet consists of gyros, I may have been exaggerating, but there has hardly been a week when I haven’t eaten two or three of these things. City Gyro is located right on my route to school every day, and offers a gyros pita for 550 forint (the exchange rate is about 1 USD = 250 forint). Not a bad price for a dependably good meal. This place will remain near and dear to my heart.

The arugula is a lie, as is the price.

3. Carrer del Blai tapas, Barcelona

In Barcelona, Caroline and I went on an adventure to the famous Carrer del Blai, a street that comes alive at night with tapas joints and gelaterias. The system is slick: you don’t order your food, but rather select it yourself from trays at the bar. You save the toothpicks as you eat and when it comes time to pay, the waiter simply counts the number of plain (1 euro) and fancier (1.5-2 euro) toothpicks to determine your bill.

We decided to hop from one restaurant to the next, and had a great meal of fish, fried dough, various meats, and even eggrolls, all arranged neatly on little baguette slices. I love it when food can be an adventure!


2. Soul Food, Budapest: Best Meal

I wasn’t expecting Louisiana Creole to be on my top ten list of places to eat in Budapest, but I love this place. Soul Food offers a solid menu of jambalaya, gumbo, caribbean curry, and burgers and a fun atmosphere.

This is where I had my best meal experience while in Budapest. It was a day when many people had left to travel for the long weekend, and so I ventured to Soul Food in the drizzle. I remember I had to wait because the restaurant was packed, but it was one of those occasions where time didn’t really matter. I had an excellent meal, had fun with the strangers at my large communal table, and simply enjoyed myself. Definitely what a meal should be.

My seafood gumbo during the Best Meal night.

The Creole burger

1. Celso y Manolo, Madrid: Best Bite

I believe that my best bite so far while abroad was during my time in Madrid visiting Christa, Tom, and Lachlan (family friends from Minneapolis) with Seth. One night, Christa and Tom took us out to Celso y Manolo, a tapas-style restaurant near the Plaza de Cibeles. While all the food was fantastic–I remember the artichokes vividly–I believe it was the venison that took the cake. So good!


That’s my top ten! Thanks for reading through this. If you’re interested in food, I’m going to be posting two more quick posts about best desserts and best home-cooked meals. Honorable mentions below 🙂

One more week until I’m home–this is crazy.



Honorable Mentions – Other Memorable Food

Also in Madrid, seafood tortillas!

My photo of Stella Artois® beer in Madrid, which I think is worthy of a commercial, or at least a magazine ad!

Papas bravas

Hanami Sushi Budapest

With Alex and Missy–her first time trying sushi!

Czech food I ate with Sam in Prague. Very heavy, eat at your own risk.

Green Buddha Thai in Bratislava, very good.

Mmm traditional Hungarian sausage.

The Mufasa beetroot and curry box from Pasta, a Budapest take-out restaurant specializing in innovative pastas

Excellent schnitzel in Vienna. This is a meal that definitely has certain food-group priorities.

Certainly one of the most memorable meals: Don Pepe’s Pizza. 55cm across–that is a 750 mL nalgene for comparison. It could not fit through the door.


Small Miracles

Yesterday marked twenty days until I fly back home. Yipes, that went fast!

It’s been a while, but I wanted to report on two miracles that happened three weeks ago today. First, I finished the Budapest Half Marathon along with several other students on my program. It was exhilarating to be running with thousands of other people and pushing myself to get in under two hours—which I did!

The second miracle on that day was my trip to the Rudas thermal baths. After the race, most of us were suffering from full-body soreness. For me, the primary issue was dealing with my knees, which I had pounded all morning. They were sore enough that locomotion was difficult, especially going down stairs, and they threatened to let me collapse to the ground if I used them for more than three steps at a time. But despite the soreness that we were all experiencing, the decision to go to the baths had already been made, so I hobbled there with Zaynab, who was visiting me, as well as classmates Caroline and Alexis.

I’m glad I did make it, because the experience of the baths was rejuvenating. We followed a bathing regimen posted on the wall, alternating between a numbing ice bath—outfitted with an ice-maker that spat out occasional chunks of ice to maintain the 10˚C temperature—and the 40˚C thermal pool. It worked wonders. Whether it was the intense temperature change, stretching in the water, the naturally occurring fluoride ions and calcium that the baths like to advertise, or simply my knees’ failure to register any further pain, I noticed that my joints gradually felt better. By the time I left, I was as good as new. In fact, I even hopped down a small flight of steps!

Thank goodness for small miracles.

The rooftop pool at Rudas bathhouse.

Since the half marathon, I have been focusing a lot on classes. We are nearing finals, and so some professors are pushing through some difficult material. Sorry that you haven’t heard much from me!

I will post more about my experiences soon. In the meantime, feel free to look at some of my homework and give me hints, read about how Hungary’s stance on immigration means that it can’t find workers it desperately needs, or watch a fun personalized half marathon video that includes clips of me running!