First impressions of Budapest

After a 2 hour nap I tossed my camera in my messenger bag and headed out to explore in the direction the concierge suggested I go. It's completely different than what I expected... This feels much more like New York City or London than anything else. Below are some of my first impressions and observations about how it is different from Rome where I spent the last 3 weeks.

Internet access on my iPhone works 10x faster than in Rome. Almost as fast as at home.

Monkey and rain sounds in the hotel elevators? What's up with that?

American coffee at the coffeeshop near the hotel... not espresso. Pretty much just like a Starbucks, with comfy seating, etc.

McDonalds, sushi and TGI Fridays around the corner from my hotel. Chinese buffet and Argentinian Steakhouse 3 blocks away.

This is clearly the expensive part of town... In walking 6 blocks I've seen Armani, Guess, an Apple reseller and half a dozen wine bars. Feels much more modern and cosmopolitan than anywhere in Rome. Even passed an Indian fast food place called Bombay Express (just like on Americas Next Great Restaurant).

Normal local people.. Not all tourists. Walked for 30 min and couldn't find a touristy shop or even a place to buy a map.

Few scooters. No smart cars... Normal cars.

Wide streets, feels like New York. Bike lane next to the sidewalk on major streets that no one walks in.

Finally found a bookstore with a few local guidebooks in English. It's a lovely shop, with helpful staff who speak English, lots of seating, a clean bathroom and quiet atmosphere. I don't think I noticed any place in Rome that was quiet except when I was alone in the Sistine Chapel.

Looking for a place to eat... Couldn't find anything Hungarian... Only pizza, tapas, steak, Chinese, lots of Gyros and fast food. Finally went where the hotel concierge sent me... Lucas. It's Hungarian food... A small place filled with mostly locals. Maybe 15 tables. The menu is in Hungarian, English, German and Italian. I ordered local draft beet and had to Google a few dishes to decide what to order... Ended up ordering chicken stew with paprika (a traditional dish) and eggplant and rice in a clay pot from the vegetarian menu. The server said "both at the same time?". Sure!

The food is fantastic. The chicken is really tender and served with what I think is farfal. The sauce tastes almost like chicken korma.

The eggplant with rice doesn't seem to have any rice in it... It's fried slices of eggplant with tomato sauce. Also delicious. :)

With a crepe and espresso for dessert, the total came to 5,150 Ft, apx $27.