At the risk of making a very cool, very popular place even more popular I have to mention this Italian restaurant a friend and I went to last night. It's called Vapiano and it's in the city centre, in the 5th District on Bécsi utca (here's the review and map on Google).
It's an italian restaurant with a nice modern style. The first thing you notice that's different is that they have a swipe card system, so you get a card when you go in to the restaurant and then swipe it when you buy something, so that on your way out you give them the card and pay the bill. The second thing that's very cool is that you order your food directly with the chefs, who cook the food right there in front of you.
When you've ordered your food (I had the ravioli with chilli and garlic, which tasted fantastic) you can sit down in different areas - on bar stools, at tables, there's even some comfy lounge sofas and chairs. A really nice touch is that there's olive oil, spices, and fresh herbs plants on the tables, so you can add some fresh basil or thyme yourself :-)
The price was also really reasonable - sure, it's not the cheapest place to eat in the city, but for the quality of the food it's certainly not that expensive. I paid about 1800HUF for my meal which is about 6-7 euros.
I can't praise it highly enough, it was great, and I've decided that whenever someone is visiting, we'll have to eat out at Vapiano.
Saturday started all too early - it was the weekend and getting up before 10 should be banned - we got up at 8am, had a coffee and then drove into the countryside, towards the Croatian border.
We visited one small village near a national park, and on seeing a property for sale, we stopped and went to have a look around. A dear old lady, with thick glasses that covered most of her face came out and began telling us all about the house and the old farm buildings in the garden - of course, when I say she was telling us these things, she was really telling Aron and his father - she kept talking to me, and I kept standing there and nodding, throwing in the occasional "mmm ... okay". She must have been wondering "who is this mute with sunglasses?".
The sun was shining and everything seemed like a normal day - I felt a little ill actually, but Aron did too so we concluded that it was probably in connection with the beer from the previous night. We drove to another village, and stopped to look at some more houses. We then met someone who Aron's father knew through his work, and that's when normality left the building.
I have a Hungarian friend called Aron, who I've been studying with and written a project with, and since he's staying at his parent's apartment in Pécs [pronounced "pea-ch", well, almost] at the moment, while he waits to start his internship, I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit him. First of all I had to catch the train from Budapest Déli station (on the Buda side).
I always imagine that journeys are going to be stressful events and sometimes they are. This however was really quite straightforward. It was Friday afternoon, and the queue for the ticket office was long - there are a few ticket machines outside the office, but the queue for them was also long, so I took a deep breath and stood in line. Thankfully it was a relatively speedy process, and apart from a rotund middle-aged woman who kept trying to subtly shuffle her way forward, it all went smoothly. A good tip to remember is that there's a 50% discount on student tickets, so the ticket was only 2000HUF (about 7-8 euros) for a second-class ticket in intercity train ... and of course, remember your student card - I showed my Danish one, which seemed to be fine.