Budapest and Bucharest

Marshall, I would not recommend Bucharest as your stay in Romania. Go to Bucharest, then take a 2.5 hrs train to Brasov. Beautiful city with lots around (Bran Castle, Peles Castle) Go to Sighisoara by train, and a medieval citadel, oldest in Europe, birthplace of Dracula. Then a train ride to Sibiu, another wonderful old city. Those 3 cities should be 4-5 days, much better than 4-5 days in Bucharest.

The Artist restaurant in Bucharest used to be worthy of 1 or 2 stars IMO, but that was before Covid, and things may have changed. The Chef/Owner is from Denmark, an he is into molecular stuff.

If you choose Bucharest, visit neighborhoods like Cotroceni (my old neighborhood) or others such as Primaverii. The latter was top of the line, where the big bosses used to live in, the former, a nice upper middle class place with beautiful villas and tree lined streets.

For wines, try Cabernet Sauvignon from Oprisor and a blend called Lupi from Moldova. Those wines will run about $20 per bottle in a wine store or about $50 in a fine restaurant.

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Thanks Otto: We will definitely be visiting Brasov and the castles. We have a river cruise that begins in Bucharest and ends in Budapest and that will take us to the castles. Whenever we do a “tour” we always allow considerable time on both ends to visit the area on a deeper, more personal level. We are planning to see Brasov, Bran and Peles on our own before the actual tour begins. Thanks again, and any other restaurant ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!
Marshall [thankyou.gif]


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Thanks Mark: Certainly appreciate your help and comments. The pandemic has created so many questions that all we can do is give things a try and hope for the best. The restaurant websites still seem promising and since we have never been newhere to this area… we will just go in with eyes wide open. Onyx has a 50 day advance for rezzies so they must still be relatively popular. Here’s hoping!

Cheers!
Marshall [thankyou.gif]

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What cruise line?

I worked in Budapest in 1991, and finally revisited about 10 years ago. HUGE changes. While working there I made it to Bratislava and Belgrade, and wanted to go to Bucharest, but couldn’t swing it. When I returned, I managed to find one old restaurant we frequented that was still open, but it was never anything special. We stayed at the Marriott and just ate local at places as we found them. I wish I had recs to provide, but my last visit wasn’t a foodie trip.

Marshall - The place for cholent is Fülemüle Étterem, however, it seems to be closed currently. The cholent was amazing, though, so I’d recommend keeping an eye on it to see if they reopen.

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What cruise line?

I worked in Budapest in 1991, and finally revisited about 10 years ago. HUGE changes. While working there I made it to Bratislava and Belgrade, and wanted to go to Bucharest, but couldn’t swing it. When I returned, I managed to find one old restaurant we frequented that was still open, but it was never anything special. We stayed at the Marriott and just ate local at places as we found them. I wish I had recs to provide, but my last visit wasn’t a foodie trip.
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Paul; This tour is arranged by Tauck. I believe it is their boat and they do the logistics for both the land and river. I am sure it will be quite nice but, as I mentioned earlier, we spend considerable time on our own at both the starting and ending points. The majority of our meals will be local places but I always like to include a “splurge” or two in each city. Especially if we have never been there before.


Cheers!
Marshall [cheers.gif]

Paul; This tour is arranged by Tauck. I believe it is their boat and they do the logistics for both the land and river. I am sure it will be quite nice but, as I mentioned earlier, we spend considerable time on our own at both the starting and ending points. The majority of our meals will be local places but I always like to include a “splurge” or two in each city. Especially if we have never been there before.


Cheers!
Marshall [cheers.gif]
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We do the same thing - try to find at least one splurge night. But on my return trip, we just didn’t find a splurge place, and the couple we were with weren’t splurgers. But that was 10 years ago. In '91, there were a couple of old world splurge places that the company took us to, but they were gone by the time I returned.

You’re going to have a blast. Just make sure you try a wide variety of the local wines. [cheers.gif]

Since you’re gonna make it to Brasov, in the city center there’s a restaurant called Sergiana. Very good authentic Romanian food. With sarmale (stuffed pickled cabbage leaves) I always get a half liter of Riesling, that is very good, very dry, and very cheap. ($5) But their menu is huge, so you have lots of choices. And you get free jumari (roasted pig fat) served with raw onions as an amuse bouche. As unhealthy as it sounds, my wife cleans that plate.

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I don’t have a ton to add with regard to restaurants in Budapest as my time there was for a work trip and all of meals happened on property but we did get a little time to explore the city thankfully.

Hotels - I arrived a day early and stayed at the Anatara New York Palace hotel. Beautifully restored and a great place to fight the jetlag coming from PDT. Brunch was a highlight and the lobby was a solid location to for distracted working. For the remainder of my trip we were at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus. More modern and located close to the river and next to the ferris wheel. Blue Fox bar in the lobby did a great job on their cocktail program and there is a Nobu at the property as well.

Sights - One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting the bath houses. Visited both the Széchenyi and Gellért baths. Both were wonderful experiences and were I forced to choose one only it would depend on the weather. Gellért is an experience with its colorful tile and the setting is truly relaxing and made for a great finish to a long work week. Széchenyi on the other hand was more lively and expansive with more of an outdoor party vibe of sorts.

The other highlight for sights was the ruin bars. With meetings running from 7a-7p while we were tired we needed a proper distraction and found the ruin bars to be the perfect remedy. Our chosen spot was Szimpla Kert. Multiple floors with different choices for atmosphere from the cocktail laboratory to the live music area and then the DJ/dance room there was a room for everyone. It’s easy to lose yourself in the moment and come to the harsh realization that closing time is 4a which makes for a rough day following. That being there are lots of choices in ruin bars depending on the vibe you’re looking for.

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I spent a few nights in Bucharest in late 2019 - it was for work - accompanied a client to look into possible investment opportunities there. Because of meetings, we didn’t get to eat out of the hotel much. That said, we did have lunch at this old caravanserai (claiming to have been open since 1808) called “Hanu’ lui Manuc” (a.k.a., “Hanul Manuc”, roughly translated “Manuc’s Inn”).
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Very pleasant, quaint and rustic, serving old-school Romanian dishes. We tried all the traditional dishes including the cabbage rolls and tripe soup; but those two weren’t interesting.
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What I did find particularly good was this assortment of typical Romanian starters - the dish of assortments was called “Meat & Spice & Everything Nice”. My favourites on the plate were the “Garlicky Pork Fat” & the “Carp Pick Roe”.
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This smokey “Oven Grilled Crown of Lamb Rack” (served with particularly nice peppermint-cinnamon rice) was hearty and delicious. They typically serve it well-done; but I enjoyed it despite my preference for having lamb much less cooked.

Oh, everything there is ridiculously cheap.

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One other tip re: Bucharest. Avoid using taxis, just stick to Uber.

It’s been a few years, but Bucharest maybe the ugliest city I’ve seen.
Budapest was fantastic. Very much a cafe culture.

Greetings again. We have booked Kane, Vatra, and The Artist for Bucharest. I have a few other ideas but am leaving time open foe local discoveries. Budapest seems to have more options and I will begin that process shortly.

Cheers!
Marshall [cheers.gif]