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The Recent Political History of Hungary

The Recent Political History of Hungary

October 23 1956

Stalin died in 1953 and the new chair of the Soviet party began a ‘de-stalinization’ process.

The fact that this narcissistic power was now forced to admit past sins and mistakes filled people living in Hungary and other Soviet-controlled countries with the hope that real change might be possible.

In June, workers in Poznan, Poland began demonstrations for better living and working conditions and demanded free elections.  The revolt was ruthlessly squelched by communist authorities.

University youth sympathising with the Polish workers organised a demonstration in Budapest for the 23rd of October.

Young people gathered at different locations in Budapest and many joined the peaceful processions during the day.  The crowd was closely lined up, remained orderly and had a cheerful attitude, but marched on with determination.  They numbered more than a hundred thousand when they reached Bem Square.  Many cut out the Soviet-inspired coat of arms from the Hungarian flag, creating a hole in the middle.  Under the cut-out, waving flags more and more shouted “Freedom, democracy and national independence!”

By dusk, the crowd counting two hundred thousand arrived at the Parliament building.

Late at night, Soviet party leadership in Moscow decided that under no circumstances will they allow their influence and power over Hungary and Eastern-Europe to weaken

Communist Dictatorship In Hungary

At the end of World War 11, Hungary was on the losing side.  “Behind the back” of the country, the victorious powers – the United States of America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union – decided that Hungary would come under the rule of the Soviets and their all-powerful leader, Stalin.

Being assured of the support of the Red Army, communist politicians within Hungary’s coalition government managed to gradually strengthen their power, thereby repressing the rising democratic developments.  By 1948-1949 the Soviet model of totalitarianism became reality in Hungary, its main characteristics being a single-party system, state life submitted to the communist party’s top leaders, mistrust and blame within the party due to the failure to produce expected economic indexes, intellectual and physical isolation of the country, forced agricultural collectivism, legal and material despoilment of the peasantry, forced industrialisation, planned economy, constant shop-shortage; cold-war hysteria; enforced worship of party leaders; state terror to keep the population in constant fear.

Siege At The Hungarian Radio

Late afternoon of the 23rd of October, a group of students marched to the Hungarian Radio to have their 16-point list of demands read off.  The leadership of the radio denied their request. 

They did broadcast communist part leader Erno Gero’s announcement on the same night.  In his speech, he disapproved of the revolt, denied granting of its demands and promised retribution to the participants. 

The atmosphere became more and more charged.  Many grabbed weapons from the military units ordered to protect the Radio but unable to get in.  Some soldiers joined the demonstrators.  First shootings were heard at about 9pm and the siege subsequently began.  The news ‘young people are being killed at the Radio” quickly spread throughout the city.  Many set out to pick up guns and ammunition at local barracks and armories.  The siege of the Radio ended at dawn with the victory of the revolters.

The peaceful demonstration thus turned into a revolt.  Later, as fights with powers loyal to the government and with soviet occupants (invited by Hungarian party leaders to intervene) began, it turned into a war of independence. 

Stalin’s Statue Pulled Down

A decree was issued in 1949 to raise a statue in Budapest of Stalin, the greatest communist leader alive.  The 8-metre tall statue weighing 65 quintals was inaugurated on December 16, 1951 on Felvonulasi Square that was built at the same time.  This square was the regular scene of the communists’ huge public events, parades and musters, where tens and hundreds of thousands of workers would be ordered to “voluntarily” and “enthusiastically” celebrate their parts leaders who would wave to them from the tribune raised on the pedestal of Stalin’s statute.

On October 23, a significant size group left the crowd that had gathered at the Parliament building and set out to demolish the statue of Stalin.  After several attempts they succeed: the statue, almost completely sawn at its knee was pulled down with the help of wire ropes, winders and several vehicles.  The crown pulled the hated monument to the side with trucks and cut it into pieces. 

Its bare torso, remaining on the pedestal – “the Boots” – soon became a symbol of the revolution.

The Revolters – “Pest Kids”

A symbolic figure of the revolution is the “Pest Kid” who takes on fighting with virtually no weapons and against all odds with youthful ardour, virtue and ingenuity.  It is a known fact that the armed fights in Budapest were fought mainly by teenagers and young adults in their twenties.  They fought fearlessly and uncompromisingly, so they are the ones to be thanked for the temporary victory in October. 

The Molotov-Cocktail

One of the simplest and best offensive weapons against tanks in the city guerrilla warfare is the Molotov-cocktail.  It was named after Molotov, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, one of Stalin’s intimates.  It became famous through the 1956 Hungarian revolution when it was commonly used against Soviet tanks.  The Budapest formula for Molotov-cocktail is a bottle filled with gasoline, fitted with a gasoline-saturated rag.  When it is set on fire and thrown at an object the flaming gasoline breaking out of the bottle can set even the smallest nook on fire.  Many tanks and armoured vehicles were disabled with Molotov-cocktails in Budapest. 

Ruined Budapest

Although the revolution spread to other cities, most of armed clashes between the revolters and the Red Army took place in the streets of Budapest.  As a result, the inner city and its surrounding districts were almost completely ruined.  Almost all buildings on major streets suffered some kind of damage.

Intervening Soviet troops, their artillery, air force and tanks ruined many buildings, vehicles, roads, military facilities, airports and railways.  Fights made public transportation, industrial production, trade and education impossible.

Victims Of The Revolt

Even though the routing of armed groups was finished by the 10th-11th of November, political resistance endured until the spring of 1957.

The revolution and the fight for freedom ended with a significant number of casualties.

Several thousand were killed, almost half of them under 25.  Casualties were approximately twenty thousand.  During the retaliation following the defeat, more than twenty-two thousand were imprisoned for participating in the revolution and 229 received a death penalty.

Some two hundred thousand people left all their possessions behind and escaped from the country.  Those that remained suffered harassment from the police for years or even decades to come.  Those publicly sympathising with the revolt or those that participated even to the smallest extent were not allowed to continue their studies or were forced to leave their jobs.  The expression “politically unreliable” was written on their record sheet that went with them everywhere and inhibited both their professional and existential advancement.

The Blood Of The Hungarians

(…) Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years.  But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary… for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories. (…) 

In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere that which the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, even indirectly, those who killed them.

Those Hungarian youngsters, workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us better understanding it.  That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also.  In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us.

Albert Camus
October 23, 1957, Paris

The Most Cheerful Barrack

From the 1960’s on the domestic situation in Hungary grew milder and the era of so-called “soft tyranny” began.  The control over planned economy gradually loosened up, public life was relatively peaceful and cultural life was characterised by a more or less open-minded attitude.  However, all those characteristics make sense only when compared to the rest of the Communist block.  Hungary was no more than – as the popular saying goes – “the most cheerful barrack in the peace-camp”. 

In the shadow of the Red Army stationed in Hungary, true democracy or rebellion against the party that was controlled by the Soviet Union was out of the question.  Citizens lived under strict limitation of human rights, with their freedom of speech and their right to travel freely outside of the country inhibited.  Information networks were present in all areas of life.  As a sharp contrast, people were obligated to march in happy crowds on communist holidays, cheering the “democratic achievements of socialism”.

By the end of the 1908’s it became clear – both in Hungary and throughout the socialist world – that the state party and its totalitarian control is no longer viable.  The new Soviet attitude – refusing to intervene – was a key factor in the political changes that were under way.  Mikhail Gorbachev rightly realised that his country as well as the communistic world order was in total economic and political crisis and the preservation of the Central-Eastern-European power zone would no longer be feasible.


1987 Democratic anti-government circles declare their programs.  Society’ consensus: “Kadar must go!” (06/1987); Lakitelek Declaration: “… our nation has no common vision for the future” (09/1987)

27.05. and 12.09.1988 Demonstrations against the Bos-Nagynaros Dam mega-project on river Danube, expected to cause significant ecological damage

27.06.1988 A crowd of several hundred thousand demonstrate on Hero’s Square in Budapest against government sponsored demolishing of Romanian villages.

13.08.1988 Ex-prime minister Andras Hegedus (1955-56) called 1956 “a national uprising”.

28.08.1989 Minister of State Imre Pozsgay calls the 1956 events “a people’s uprising”.

15.03.1989 About a hundred thousand people demonstrate in Budapest on the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian revolution and war of independence.  The events culminate when on the steps of the Hungarian Television headquarters there is a public reading of 12 points written by democratic opposition groups demanding democratic changes. 

Spring of 1989

10-11.02.1989 The central Committee (the legislative body) of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party declares that a multiparty system can be launched.

22.03.1989 The co-called Opposition Round-Table is formed.

25.04.1989 Partial withdrawal of Russian troops stationed in Hungary begins according to an international agreement.

02.05.1989 At an international press conference in Hegyeshalom, the demolition of the technically closed border, the so-called Iron Curtain, is announced.  Fences on the Austrian-Hungarian border are torn down.

01.06.1989 The abolition of socialist “competition of workers”

05.06.1989 The government decides: social and retirement status of citizens interned between 1949 and 1953 is to be restored.  Favourable decisions are made regarding cases of citizens that lost advantages due to political reasons as well as those that were relocated.  Another decision to ban censure on books and films is also announced. 

Summer of 1989

5-6.06.1989 Incommu, an independent group of artists places 301 traditional carved headstones (“kopjafa”), paying tribute to victims executed following the 1956 revolution, resting in Parcel 301, an anonymous grave in the Rakoskeresztur cemetery.

13.06.-18.09.1989 talks between the Opposition Round Table and state party representatives are carried on regarding crucial laws on the political changes – also called “fundamental laws”.

14.06.1989 United States Senate unanimously votes in favour of a declaration saying “the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was a divide in modern history – the first important indication that the fall of Stalinism would be inevitable.”

16.06.1989 Memorial service and re-burial for Imre Nagy, Prime Minister under the 1956 revolution and his fellow martyrs on Heroes’ Square, with hundreds of thousands present. 

Pan-European Picnic

01.08.1989 Previously closed Western borders are reopened

19.08.1989 Pan-European Picnic, a celebration symbolising the rapprochement of formerly opposed countries is held.  Before celebrations began, some 300 East-German refugees appear at the sight, break through the fence and run to Austria uninterrupted by the Hungarian guards. 

10.09.1989 The Hungarian government opens the country’s Western border for East-German refugees.

Autumn of 1989

Political Changes In Central-Eastern-Europe

23.10.1989 The Hungarian Republic is proclaimed.

09.11.1989 Borders within split Germany are opened and the demolition of the Berlin Wall begins.

10.11.1989 Bulgarian Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov is removed from his position.

22.11.1989 In Czechoslovakia, Milos Jakes, together with the leadership of the communist party resigns following demonstrations.

17.12.1989 In Timisoara, anti-government demonstrations end in bloodshed.  As demonstrations continue, they quickly spread to Bucharest, thus evoking a revolution and the fall of the Ceausescu-regime in Romania.

25.12.1989 The Execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. 

Free Elections

24.01.1990 The Hungarian Parliament passes laws on freedom of conscience and religion, together with new church laws. 

31.01.1990 Press laws are modified.  Individuals are now allowed to found newspapers, television and radio studios. 

12.03.1990 The full withdrawal of Soviet troops begins in Hajmasker.

14-16.03.1990 The old parliament calls off all illegal lawsuits in the period between 1945 and 1963.

25.03 and 08.04.1990 The first free, democratic parliamentary elections take place after 43 years. 

02.05.1990 Statutory meeting of the Parliament of the Republic of Hungary.  The first decision of the freely elected parliament: the 23rd of October, the day when the revolution broke out in 1956 is to become a national holiday. 

October 23rd 2006

Furthermore, a symbolic event of great consequence will take place: The Boots will be installed only on the eve of October 23rd and exactly at 9.37pm on October 23rd 2006 the square will be inaugurated (since in 1956, 50 years ago it was exactly at this time that the statue of Stalin was demolished).  That night the square will become a memorial place dedicated to the Fight for Freedom and the Revolution, its axis defined by the Boots and “One Sentence of Tyranny”.  Not one word concerning present-day politics will be uttered from the speakers, only the striking music of Beethoven will be heard.  Everyone will be welcome to bring flowers or light candles at the memorial.  The Witness Square of our contemporary history will be open to visitors all night long, with people forming respectful and orderly queues.  With the help of web cameras, the park’s homepage will broadcast the celebration live, thus throughout the world people will be able to follow the course of events.

Hungary’s history is very recent as far as history is concerned.  If you were in Hungary when this was all happening or know someone who was please leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading this.

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Hungary’s 22 Wine Regions

Hungary’s 22 Wine Regions

Having been forearmed with the knowledge of Hungary’s twenty-two wine regions, it was always on our radar to seek out at least some of these areas and test out the wines for ourselves.

Having grown up with a father who enjoyed wine-making himself, I had been taught the virtues of being open minded when it came to wine.  Somewhere along the years that transformed into me liking just one wine, Chardonnay!  Sorry Dad.  That’s not to say I won’t try others, but I always seem to come back to the Chardonnay.

However in a country where the wine varieties have different, unheard of, let alone unpronounceable wine names, one must take this challenge head-on.  So that’s what we set out to do, and just as well because the Hungarian Chardonnay’s just don’t cut the mustard. 

If you are taking a trip to Hungary and are partial to some wine tasting yourself, then you can pick and choose the regions you might like to visit.  Below is a summary of what each region offers and a sneak preview of the conditions these grapes are grown in. 


#1 Badacsony

Fiery mountains, fiery hills.  It has an area of 1500 ha.  Protected by the Bakony, tempered by the Balaton, it has an average annual temperature of 11 C, 600-650 mm annual rainfall and 1950 hours of sunshine.  Basalt rocks and soils formed on Pannonian sediments.  Includes Badacsony, Szent-Gyorgy Mountain, Csobanc, Gulacs.  Well ageing aromatic white wines with high minerality.

#2 Balaton-Felvidek

Includes Keszthely Mountain and Kali basin.  It has an area of 1600 ha.  Climate is balanced, average annual temperature is 11 C and average rainfall is 650 mm with 2000 hours of sunshine.  Bedrock is limestone on the West (Cserszeg area) and brown earth with friable basalt on the East, therefore the wines have diverse characters.  Mostly producing white wines and this is the home of Cserszegi fuszeres.

#3 Balatonboglar

Situated in the Southern coast of Balaton from Balatonbereny to Balatonszabadi, it is 3300 ha in area.  Even climate, typically with long Indian summer, average annual temperature is 11 C, average rainfall is 650 mm, with 2000 hours of sunshine.  Soil type is deep earth formed on marine sediment with loess coverage at many sites.  Variable types of aromatic white and red wines are produced, from very light to full-bodied.

#4 Balatonfured-Csopak

From Zanka to Balaton-almadi and Kenese.  It has an area of 2200 ha and the climate is warm due to the protective effect of the Bakony, average annual temperature is 11.5 C, 2050 hours of sunshine, volume of annual rainfall is high, 700mm.

#5 Bukk

Situated in the slopes of the mountain Bukk, the once famous Miskolc wine region.  It has an area of 1000 ha, protected by the mountains of Bukk, average temperature is 10 C, and average annual rainfall is 500 mm with a lot of sunshine, 1950-2000 hours yearly.  The soil type of the wine region is brown earth formed on rhyolite tuff.  The region typically produces white grapes for selling to other wine regions.

#6 Csongrad

Sunny wine region.  It has an area of 1420 ha.  Its climate is warm, continental, there is a high risk of winter and spring frosts, averaging temperature is 11.8 C, 450-500 mm precipitation, 2200 hours of sunshine, droughts.  Soil types are moving sandy loess and alluvial soil on the North, and sand and moving sand on the South.  Sandy soils are immune to filoxera.  Light white wines and Kadarka are produced.  

#7 Eger

Home of Bikaver (Bull’s Blood).  It has an area of 5500 ha and is surrounded by the mountains of Matra and Bukk.  Average annual temperature is 10.5 C, average rainfall is 600 mm and average sunshine hours are 1980.  Diverse bedrock, mostly rhyolite and rhyolite tuff, which is the most suitable for carving cellars into it.  There is andesite in Meszhegy and rick limestone in Nagy Eged.  White wines are produced in Deleno area and red wines in the Eger area.  Main wines are Bikaver and Egri Csillag.

Eger’s old town will impress even the most discerning of tourist with its Castle and quant old town.  Make sure to include a visit out to the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman, not just for wine sampling, which is fabulous, but to look at the unique bars dug into the stone walls, and of course to enjoy some traditional Hungarian cuisine for lunch or dinner.

#8 Etyek-Buda

Vineyard of Budapest.   It has an area of 1660 ha.  Its climate is cold, windy, average annual temperature is 9.5 – 10.5 C, annual rainfall is 650-680 mm, soils are mostly calcareous brown earth formed on limestone bedrock.  Most of the raw wine for champagne making is produced in this region.

#9 Hajos-Baja

Friendly winemakers.  It has an area of 2050 ha.  Climate is warm, continental; average annual temperature is 11-12 C, average rainfall is 460-500 mm, with 2100 hours of sunshine.  Soils are mainly loess covered with layers of moving sand of different thickness.  Most typical wines are Hajosi Kadarka and Kekfrankos. 

#10 Kunsag

One third of the country’s vineyards.  It has an area of 22,700 ha.  It has a continental climate, average temperature on the North (Jaszsag) is 10 C and 12 C on the South (Bacska), rainfall is low, 400-500 mm annually, 2000-2200 hours of sunshine.  Main soil type is calcerous sand, partly earth and alluvial soils, that warm up quickly and does not hold water.  Mostly white wines are produced: Sarfeher, Ezerjo, Israi Oliver, Cserszegi fuszeres, Olaszrizling and Red Kadarka.

#11 Matra

Gyongyos, Abasar, Nagyrede, Visonta, Gyongyostarjan.  It has an area of 6250 ha.  It has a continental climate with hot summer and cold winter, but the region is protected from spring  and autumn frosts by the mountains of Matra.  Average annual temperature is 10.5 C, average rainfall is 550 mm, with 1950 hours of sunshine.  Soils on the South slopes of the Matra are rich in volcanic content.  Clear, fresh, full bodied white wines and diverse red wines are produced.

#12 Mor

Home of Ezerjo.  It has an area of 670 ha.  Its climate is windy, average annual temperature is 10 C, winter is milk, summer is sunny, annual rainfall is 600-650 mm.  Highly calcerous clay loess soil formed on loess and sand bedrocks.  Main variety is Ezorjo.

#13 Nagy-Somlo

The mills of this region looks like “God’s forgotten hat” – as a famous Hungarian poet described.  It has an area of 600 ha, and includes the regions Somlo, Sag and Kis-Somlo.  It has a temperature climate, average annual temperature is 10 C and it is windy with 600-750 mm annual rainfall and 1950 hours of sunshine.  Varied soil types were formed on Pannonian sediments with fragmentary basalt.  It’s most famous wine is Juhfark, the “wine of wedding nights”. 

#14 Neszmely

Also called as the “pearl of Danube”.  It has an area of 1600 ha.  Balanced climate, the average annual temperature is 10 C, rainfall is 550-600 mm, there are 1950 hours of sunshine and the proximity of the Danube has a beneficial impact.  Soils are marl on the West, linestone, dolomite, sandstone and brown earth on the East part of the region.  Gives fresh, aromatic, mostly white wines.

#15 Pannonhalma

Anno Domini 966. It has an area of 660 ha.  Climate is balanced, the average annual temperature is 10 C, and average rainfall is 550-650 mm, with 1950 hours of sunshine.   The soil is Pannonian sedimentary sand, sandy clay, clay, and earth formed on these.  Elegant white wines are produced with fine acids and also Pinot noir. 

#16 Pecs

Home of Cifrandli.  It has an area of 780 ha, spreads from Dunaszeksco to Szigetvar on the slopes of Baranyai hills and Mecsek Mountain.  Climate is sub-Mediterranean with mild winter and warm summer and average annual temperature is 11 C.  Long, undisturbed growing season, annual rainfall around 660-700mm.  Soils are loess on the East, clayey earth to the West and werfen schist on the West.  The famous native variety cirfandli is grown here.  The region gives fresh white wines and full bodies red wines.

Pecs is not only a fabulous place to sample wines, but it has lots of reasons to visit showcasing 17 visitor attractions including exhibitions, art galleries, factories, museums, and much more.

#17 Sopron

“Blaufrankischland”.  It has an area of 1920 ha.  Its climate is windy and it rains a lot, although the annual rainfall is only 600-700 mm, and there are 1950 hours of sunshine.  The best parcels are the ones facing the lake Ferto.  The main variety is Kekfrankos.

#18 Szekszard

The Hungarian Burgundy.  It has an area of 2380 ha.  It has a warm balanced climate with Atlantic, Mediterranean and continental impacts.  There are 2050 hours of sunshine, 600 mm of rainfall, 11.5 C average temperature, hot, sunny summers and long, warm fall.  There are thick soils, brown earth formed on 20-4- metre deep highly calcerous loess base.  Famous wine types are Kadarka, Kekfrankos and Bikaver.

#19 Tokaj

Vinum Regnum Rex Vinorum.  The number one wine region in Hungary.  World’s leading natural sweet wine producer region.  It has an area of 5900 ha.  There is a continental climate, hot summer and cold winter, average temperature is between 9.5 and 10.5 C, 2000 hours of sunshine and a rainfall of 530 mm.  The area has a special microclimate that allows the process of shrinkage of grapes caused by a special type of fngi, the so-called “noble rot”, and the preparation of aszu wines from these grapes.  Soils are mostly clay soils formed on rhyolite, rhyolite tuff and andesite rocks, with loess coverage on the South part, and highly variable geological patterns.  The region became world famous in the 18th centure.  Main wine types are Furmint, Harslevelu, Sargamuskotaly, Szamorodni, Aszu and Esszencia.

#20 Tolna

The forgotten wine region.  It has an area of 2500 ha.  Climate is balanced, average annual temperature is 11.5 C, average rainfall is 600-650 mm, with 2000 hours of sunshine.  Most of the vineyards are in Tolna country, some are in Baranya and Fejer counties.  Mostly fresh white wines and produced, there are some large vineyards and many small ones.

#21 Villany

The Hungarian Bordeaux.  It has an area of 2800 ha.  There is a Mediterranean effect on climate, hot summer and mild winter, long growing season, hight risk of hail, 700-750 mm annual rainfall.  Mostly red wines are produced in Villany area and white wines in Siklos area.  Villanyi Franc is the most popular wine.

The Cute Wine Bars in Villany

#22 Zala

Hilly land.  It has an area of 1600 ha.  Climate is cool, with 9.5C average annual temperatures, rainy (700-800 mm) and free from extremities.  Characteristic terrain and North-South oriented steep-sided highlands, clayey soil, hard to cultivate.  Intense white wines with pronounced acid structure.  Fragmented vineyards and small cellars.

If you like wine…

Hungary will have plenty in store for you.  Just a word of caution however.  As an avid Chardonnay connoisseur I was expecting my favourite tipple to taste somewhat familiar.  It wasn’t.  I had to move onto a different variety and thankfully found one to my pallet.

So there you have it, 22 ‘other’ reasons to visit Hungary.

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Please also leave us a comment.  Comments keep us motivated to keep writing to bring you useful information about our travels.  Thanks.

Eat These Hungarian Foods

Eat These Hungarian Foods

The day we arrived into Hungary we knew we were in a very foreign country.  Being foodies, we love to learn about different food cultures (not the yoghurt kind) and experience the different flavours that each country holds dear.

Hungary was no exception.

In fact it was from my cousin in NZ that I learnt Hungary was best known for paprika.  How did I not know that?  I guess that’s what travelling is all about – learning!

What I found out about paprika is that it was introduced to Hungary from the Turks in the 16-17th Century.  Ah, that makes sense, I love Turkish food.

This blog is about the different foods we tasted and what we recommend you try when you get to Hungary. 

I’ve categorised these into grocery items, street food, main meals and eating out venues.

Hungarian Foods to Try

Grocery Items


Patiszon Ledig

An unusual vegetable that greeted us in the Penny Market supermarket might have well been from Mars for all the relativeness we had to them.

It’s called patiszon ledig and is like a courgette.  We tried these grilled at a friends place later on in our travels and they reminded me of a marrow.  They are quite tasty.


Although duck isn’t traditionally Hungarian, we were thrilled to find this delicacy for a mere €2.86/kg.  Needless to say we enjoyed duck several times.  For a couple of yummy duck recipes click here.  Also to note is that pork is a regular favourite of this region and is well priced for those people looking for a bargain.

Yummy Thai Red Duck Curry

Vegyes Virag

We were sitting in our motorhome outside Lidl in Eger, minding our own business.  A knock on the door yielded a conversation (thanks to Google Translate) with Balog Csaba, a beekeeper.  He gave us a jar of his own, mixed flowers, honey (Vegyes Virag).  If you are in the region he makes home deliveries so give him a call on 06-30/2329-111.

Street Foods

At Lake Balaton we were accosted with the sights of food we’d never seen before at a street food vendor in Keszthely.


At Keszthely Park we were given this hot to brush a mixture of oil and garlic over the top. Then they took it back to spread sour cream over it and grated cheese on top.  Oh my goodness, these are great. They look like a heavy bread treat but in fact they are light, airy and are so full of flavour. You must try them.


Chimney Cake (Kurtoskalacs) were to become items of immense intrigue. They are like a cinnamon sugar donut.  Crunchy on the outside and warm and fluffy inside.  They are best eaten hot straight from the coals over which they are typically cooked.

Keszthely, Csik Ferenc setany 5., Hungary

Chimney Cakes


The next thing we found was Kolbice in Pecs.  This a bread casing with onion, bacon, duck sausage and red cabbage.  Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as the picture suggested.

What The Picture Looked Like

How It Looked In Reality

Hungarian Ice Cream

Although you can get this next food in lots of countries, I must admit that Hungary has delivered some of the yummiest ice creams we’ve had.  In fact, we even went back the next day for another round, which is most unusual for us!

Capri Cukraszda, Citrom u. 7, 7633, Pecs, Hungary

Toltott Kaposzta

We wanted to try Toltott Kaposzta, which as the name suggests (not!) is Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. They were stuffed with rice and had a sour flavour. Sometimes you may find them stuffed with meat as an alternative.


You must go to the First Strudel House of Pest” I read in a blog, so off we went, blindly.  The blog sung the praises of the attentive staff, the delicious food and the atmosphere.  The writer went back there a second time.  So we expected to find the same.  It didn’t happen!

What we experienced instead was uninterested waiting staff who saw us as a bother, extremely slow service and very ordinary food.  Drat, it’s such a pity that consistency is difficult to achieve with restaurants at times.

The strudel we had was cherry with curd and apricot with curd.  There was more curd than fruit and the light and crunchy multi-layered filo pastry I was expecting was soft like it had been heated in a microwave and the pastry just one layer.  At least the ice cream was nice.

There was interesting memorabilia inside the shop (we sat outside) and the hand-basin in the ladies toilet was interesting.

Sadly I can’t recommend this place based on my experience so there’s no sharing of their address.  However there are other places in this city that sell strudel so I urge you to hunt down a good one yourself.

Gelarto Rosa

One place that was on our list that we didn’t get to was Gelarto Rosa. We were too full from the Cat Café to visit and the line was out the door and onto the street.  However, we saw plenty of people walking around with happy smiles on their faces while devouring these unique looking ice creams.  So if you’re in the area, pop this place on your list.  And you are likely to be in the area because it’s right near St. Stephens Basilica that you won’t want to miss.

Szent István tér 3, 1051, Budapest, Hungary

Gelarto Rosa

Check out the crowds!

Main Meals


Having just tried Goulash at Tranquil Pines Camping, it was then time for us to try making this delicious meal in our motorhome.  We added some herbed dumplings for a bit of fun.  For the recipe click here.

Meson Plus Preparation

Cooked Goulash With Dumplings

Wild Boar Stew & Hungarian Pork Schnitzel

While in Eger we had dinner one night out at the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman.  It’s primarily a wine tasting area filled with adorable little boutique shops carved into the stone walls behind them.

While at dinner Alan tried slow cooked wild boar stew with noodles and it was a Hungarian pork schnitzel for me. Both were delicious.

Eger, Almási Pál u. 38, 3300, Eger, Hungary

Wild Boar Stew

Pork Schnitzel

Chicken Paprikash

Another traditional Hungarian dish is Chicken Paprikash shown here from a lovely restaurant called Ramazuri Bistronomy located near Matthias’ Church, (which you will want to visit).  It was served with noodles, which are similar to pasta, with a sour cream sauce.  At the Central Market Hall the dish of the same name looked slightly different.  Their dish had the chicken inside wraps.

My Lunch

The Same Dish At The Market Hall

Alan enjoyed the Beef Goulash Soup from the same restaurant.  I always thought of goulash as a stew, however it was originally a thin soup.

This is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country.  Its origin traces back to the 9th century to stews eaten by Hungarian shepherds.  These are hearty dishes and have modern variations.  We’ve made this on several occasions in our motorhome using two different styles.  One incorporated pork and Hungarian sausage, the other just plain beef.  Both are delicious, however the beef is a little healthier.

Ramazuri Bistronomy, Úri u. 30, 1014 Budapest

Eating Out Venues

Market Food Hall

While in Budapest we visited the well-known Central Market Hall.  This place is a foodie’s dream and the place to go to try the Hungarian gastronomic dishes.  On the top floor is the food stands selling all manner of interesting and enticing looking goodies.  Just a word of warning, it gets crowded so try to avoid it in the weekends and don’t take a pram.  You will want to bring an empty stomach with you and try a little bit of everything.

We had to try Langos again, just to make sure they still were delicious.  However, the first one we had in Lake Balaton took the prize for the most delicious (and it was cheaper).

We wandered around the markets taking in all the different foods, sights, and smells. Here’s a photo gallery of the things that piqued our interest.

Vámház krt. 1-3, 1093, Budapest

Click on the image gallery below to see more (20) photos of the Central Market Hall and the different foods available.

The Cat Café Budapest

If you’re a cat lover you’ve going to enjoy this next place.  It was called The Cat Café Budapest.  There were 14 cats, usually just sleeping or walking around who were nonchalant about us being there.  We got to have pats with a few (they are not to be picked up) and enjoyed being around cats again.

We treated ourselves to cakes (unusual for us) and had I known these types of cakes were so delicious I would have eaten more in my life.  My waistline thanks me for not doing so.  Mine was a light and airy white chocolate mouse sitting on bed of a crunchy chocolate biscuit base.  I was in heaven with every mouthful.  Alan scoffed a strawberry and white chocolate layered cake which was equally as delightful.

Révay u. 3, 1065, Budapest, Hungary

Click on the gallery of (14) photos below to see more… 

Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

The next day we ventured out to lunch at the famous Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar.  Here we enjoyed the most interesting atmosphere in Budapest and some delicious BBQ buffalo wings and two glasses of wine for just €11.30.

Next door to the Ruin Bar is the Street Food Karavan, they have different morsels from around the world.  It’s a fun vibrant place, but is not cheap.  I imagine it’s here to cater for those who’ve come out of the Ruin bar at night looking for something else to eat.

Kazinczy u. 14, 1075, Budapest, Hungary

You can read more about this area in our post on Budapest (coming soon).  Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

Food At The Ruin Bar

Street Food From Around The World

Goulash Station In A Van

Relaxed Atmosphere

Just A Sample Of The Food On Offer

New York Café

One place I recommend you definitely put on your list is the New York Café.  The architecture is divine, unlike anything I’ve seen before.  It’s opulent with a capital oh!!!  We popped in here just to soak up the atmosphere and ordered a plate of small cakes (again!).  We avoided the coffee and tea at €7.50 per person and headed straight for a small dish we could share and at €16 we ate slowly.

Erzsébet krt. 9-11, 1073, Budapest, Hungary

Click below on the gallery to see more photos (12)


A couple of days later we enjoyed lunch at Kertem a relaxed, casual beer garden café in the park. They had cosy seating where people were just sitting under the sun soaking up its rays, or catching up with friends for the afternoon.  This is in the park near the Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and not far from Szechenyi Thermal Baths.  It’s also a stone’s throw from the Hero’s Square that you will want to visit.

The food was tasty enough but not traditional Hungarian, hence I won’t bore you with the details, other than to give you a couple of photos.

Olof Palme stny. 2, 1146, Budapest, Hungary

Hungarikum Bisztro

While in Budapest try the Hungarikum Bisztro for traditional Hungarian food.  We ordered the shared plate of pork knuckle, which was accompanied by potato wedges and sauerkraut.  Even without ordering an entree, this was a large meal and we needed a doggie bag for the significant leftovers.

Friends who visited here a couple of times had recommended this place and it lived up to its reputation.  The staff were attentive, friendly, smiling and just couldn’t do enough to please us.  Their mantra is “to create a place, a good place where a guest can truly feel like a guest would feel in our home, where the meals are prepared in a traditional, authentic way”.  They delivered in spades and I recommend you visit them if hungry while in Hungary!

They kindly gave us a booklet which included a recipe for Hungarian Goulash Soup.  Check it out here.  However, we didn’t think it was the best (as it was very thin), so I’ve also included our favourite goulash stew recipe for a tasty alternative, Easy Hungarian Goulash.

Hungarikum Bisztro, 1051 Budapest, Steindl Imre u. 13. +36 30 661 6244.

Pork Knuckle accompanied by Potato Wedges and Sauerkraut

Valley Of The Beautiful Woman

Here’s a sneak preview of what the wine bars and their caves are like in the Valley Of The Beautiful Woman in Eger.  There are umpteen eating establishments here and of course plenty of places to sample the local wines.

Inside The Wine Bar

Check Out The Date On These Bottles!

Old Vintages Under Lock & Key

Well that’s it from us.  With bulging waistlines and clothes that seemingly shrink in the Budapest air, we’re off for another culinary adventure in Slovakia.  Who knows what we might find there…

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