A Photo Shoot & Fendi- Big Day in Rome 

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I was in Rome for close to a week (don’t ask me what I did except lots of walking and eating) so I thought of making use of my time and decided to go for a photo shoot! My dear friend Linda from The Beehive suggested me her friend Katrina Tan- a local photographer originally from Indonesia.

We quickly made connection and decided on a date. I am so glad to have had such a great suggestion because Katrina was wonderful. She made me super comfortable in 15 minutes which helped me ease out the rest of my time in the neighborhood of Trastevere. I love the way photographers are so patient. There is so much to learn from them.

Katrina asked me why I wanted a shoot since it was important for her to understand the objective. The main reason was that since I travel alone and don’t have any great shots of myself, I wanted some beautiful memories of the trip that I could enlarge later on my wall back home. Understanding the reason of shoot really helped her. It was all about me and Rome. Me and the streets of Italy! 

I hope you enjoy a glimpse of my morning ❤

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~There are countless things that can go wrong when you are traveling but embracing them is what truly counts🙅 I have tried to do that from my very first travel to Italy. I was a self-effacing individual learning to carve a niche for myself but ended up learning a lot of lessons when I traveled with a friend✌️ Looking back, I see the path I treaded on and how it culminated. It was all meant to be❣️~ ~Today I feel blessed to have gone through that path because of which I can converse in Italian and visit nooks and corners of the country that I could once only bookmark on my computer💻With every trip to Italy, I come a little further in realizing this deep connection I have for this wonderfully diverse country and its people!🇮🇹 This connection that has earlier been labelled as "obsessive", "silly", and "crazy" is now loved by you! For that I'm #ForeverGrateful 😍😘~ –PS- another pic from my photo shoot in Rome with @zero_the_one

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Believe me this is something totally out of my comfort zone. I never thought I’d do something like this. But then when I think about it, isn’t that what travel is all about??

It turned out to be a great day and a great week too. I received Fendi’s amazing sunglasses via SmartBuyGlasses the next day. I was over the moon! This was “FENDI”!! 

Everything about them is totally amazing! I was very surprised to discover that the website of SmartBuyGlasses has every big designer you could possibly think of. Not to mention the coolest designs! I was blissfully unaware of it until that day.

I’m all for everything Italian so Fendi was the perfect gift for me! Also, since sunglasses are part of our daily lives, I’m going to use them daily now on my way to work.

These are also the most expensive pair I own till now 🙂 A picture of me wearing them will be shared later once the rain clouds looming over my window sends some sun back! Cheers to SmartBuyGlasses.

5 Cafés to try #WhenInRome

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One tends to walk a lot in Rome (a lot a lot) so its natural to grab a seat by the many lovely cafes the city has to offer. This time was no different for me except that I was a little more open in my choice. Usually I frequent one café my whole trip and make it my morning ritual. But this time I tried different ones almost every day and sometimes even twice. So here is a compilation of my favorite cafes from the eternal city:

Bar Farnese- If you go here you will come back with a smile on your face. It is a true Roman experience with the owner Angelo and his courteous staff. This is one of the many cafes with a great sitting area for people watching. The bar is so old fashioned and vintage that I could cry! The no frill service adds to its charm. Bar Farnese also happens to be a stone’s throw away from the major attractions of the city. But do not confuse it with Caffe Farnese which is very close by.

Via dei Baullari 106, Rome.

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-Pasticceria Trastevere- This was only 2 tram stops away from where I stayed so it became sort of mandatory to try it. Their pastries are to die for!! Small but delicious choux puffs filled with cream, custard, chocolate or something you might not have had altogether. The service is super quick and I loved their painted cups.

Via Natale del Grande 49, Rome.

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Antico Caffè Greco– Do not judge me! Yes I went there for fresh juice and a caffè. It was a costly affair and I was aware of it (if you sit inside a caffè costs about EUR7) but I was a tourist in Rome so I enjoyed visiting the second oldest cafe in the country! I am also a sucker for places where the great writers frequented. Goethe and Byron are two examples who used to come here. If you end up visiting Greco, order at the counter and enjoy the old world experience!

Via dei Condotti 86, Rome.

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Roscioli Caffè- I visited Roscioli twice, once with a friend who was most kind to treat me and once alone where I had the freshest panino ever! I loved the whole experience of standing at the narrow bar and enjoying my food. Of course there is free WiFi and a place to sit inside to chat. Their pastries are super delicious and somehow I found that even a cornetto was more creamier here! The service isn’t as friendly but maybe that is because they are always so full.

Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 16, Rome.

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El Mojitaro Bar- Another no frills bar with an owner who loves to chit chat. This could be one of the most photographed places in the graffiti covered neighborhood of Rome. Courteous service and great views I found their cocktails to be a tad expensive. I’d just go for their cappuccino and enjoy the view.

Vicolo del Cinque 5, Rome.

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Apart from the ones above I also loved Caffè Peru, Bar Willy and Bar San Calisto. Have you tried any of these?? I’d love more recommendations for my next trip 🙂

 

 

Testaccio, Trapizzino & Tram Depot

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I didn’t know all of Rome’s districts until recently so one morning I decided to take a walk in the lesser known neighborhood of Testaccio. It was local life at its best! Romans going about their businesses, shopping at Mercato Testaccio, nonni playing with their grandchildren, women having a quick chat at the butchers’. Essentially Rome without the crowds 🙂

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Mercato Testaccio

From the main piazza to the end of the road I chanced upon the Tram Depot-an old inoperative tram carriage made into a kiosk serving coffee, cocktails and much more. This place was totally a win win for me with its brilliant garden swing, shady sitting area and retro styled chairs. I enjoyed their fresh cornetto and cappuccino with the super friendly service. It was a good way to immerse in speaking Italian even though most of it concerned about the many pigeons in the area 😉

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Buonissimi!

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Old world and retro

Address: Via Marmorata 13, Rome

After a long pausa, I headed to the latest street food craze called Trapizzino! In simple terms- a comfort food place offering small triangular shaped pizza with a topping of your choice! There were so many delicious toppings to choose from but I chose a polpette al sugo (meatballs in tomato sauce) witha chilled beer.

The next best options for me were eggplant parmesan and marinated artichokes. Oh well….I was in Italy! My trapizzino was super yumm at just €3.50. The place was packed but had a small sitting area which was a perfect spot for people watching. Now here is where I heard English and also saw tourists like myself 😉

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Which one would you have??

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Yummy in my tummy!

Address: Via Giovanni Branca 88, Rome

Have you been to any of these places?? If not, I’d recommend you to try them #WhenInRome

Also, if you are on Instagram why don’t you give me a follow?? I promise to fill your timeline with beautiful travel pictures and yummy food from Italy 🙂

A Roman Food Tour in Trastevere

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Rome as a city can be so wonderful yet so overwhelming at the same time. It is definitely important to feel the pace of the Eternal city and the best to understand that is through its food.

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While it wasn’t my first time in the city, I definitely hadn’t done a food tour ever in Rome so when Sian of The Roman Guy approached me, I thought why not?! It would be a great way to know more about Rome and see the hidden food points that I may not have known as a visitor. So I went for the Roman Guy’s Trastevere Locals Food Tour.

The Food Tour started at Campo de’ Fiori – only a 10 minutes walk from Trastevere. We we were a good group of 7 people- a mixed bunch from across the world. Our guide, Melissa, originally from Naples came from a family with background in food. She seemed quite passionate about food.

Our first stop was a cheese store where we tasted 5 different types of cheese from all over Italy. A generous amount of Prosecco was served along. I loved everything we ate but Burrata was and remains to be my favorite 🙂 I was wistfully reminded of my adventures in Puglia.

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Heaven!

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Our next stop was something that was on my bucket list thanks to my fellow blogger Natalie. She had mentioned going to Dar Filettaro for its Filetti di Baccala in one of her posts and that’s exactly where I wanted to go too. And….Voila! We were there! Soon there was a hot plate of hot deep fried fish called “Baccala” along with a pitcher of white wine. It was a killer combination and the fish was so delicious! The place was so off the tourist track that I only saw locals around. This also made the service better.

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Baccala

Next started a 10 minutes walk to the enchanting neighbourhood of Trastevere. We stopped at a small bistro that I could have easily missed. It was super cozy and cute. The owners use organic ingredients in everything they made and a happy staff member served us wine with a cheese, meat and bruschetta platter! I surprised myself as I fell in love with a cheese and jam combination.

Melissa mentioned that we were half way through our tour and I believed so was my tummy. But I was ready to have a slice of pizza and that’s just what our next stop was. Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) was the next stop at another cute little place in Trastevere’s lively streets. I could have had another one 😉 It was a very short stop and I wished it lingered and we could have just sat and talked.

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I want more!

Our second to last food stop was dinner with two types of pasta- Cacio e pepe and Amatriciana– classic Roman dishes! We were informed of their backgrounds and our group enjoyed it with wine and a plate of Parmigiana.

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Parmigiana

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Fully Roman

We ended the tour with the classic gelato! (No pic sorry) I chose hazelnut and melon as my flavors. Divine!!

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A Happy Little Group (The other table wasn’t with us) 😉

All in all it was a great food tour as it gave insight into the food and culture of the Romans. The tour group being small also added to the fun. I would especially like to highlight the food quantity which was apt and sufficient. My stomach gave a happy clap at the end. But even though I loved the food at the tour, I would have appreciated a fun energetic guide because in my humble opinion it can totally up the whole tour!

Disclaimer: I was a guest at The Roman Guy’s Food Tour. However, all opinions expressed here are solely my own. Big thanks to Sian- the Marketing Voyager at The Roman Guy who helped plan this tour! Sian-see you again in Rome or India! 🙂

Lunch with a view at Aroma Restaurant, Rome

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Buonasera from Rome!! I had a surreal lunch experience today at the Aroma Restaurant in the ancient Palazzo Manfredi. The Restaurant is situated just opposite the Colloseum and is the perfect spot for anyone looking to have a meal with a view! Chef Giuseppe di Ioro and his team do an exceptional work of keeping the place to Michelin star standards.

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My super amazing lunch started with wine from the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and fresh parmesan bread. The view of the Colosseum was just so fantastic with the light on it and the shade to my side. My host, Alessandro, made sure he wasn’t overbearing to me but at the same time there for any call. I ordered ricciola in melone sauce and some fresh herbs for the first course. I don’t call myself a food expert but there was something about that dish blended in white wine that was so exquisite and light. For the second course I ordered ravioli with olive oil and thyme in a potato filling. This was personally recommened to me by Alessandro himself and it was simple seasonal food at it’s best! I was enjoying every bite with that view!

The chef sent me greetings of a small dessert of chocolate and raspberry afterwards which was perfect to let go of the buttery texture of ravioli. Very dainty plate!

I ordered a beetroot cake that looked right out of a MasterChef Australia episode and to end the fabulous meal in an Italian style I finished with a caffe. I would recommend Aroma Restaurant to anyone looking for a bit of quiet amongst all that noise and rush in Rome. I spent around 3 hours there alone simply because the food was fresh, the service relaxed and the views to die for!

Thank you to everyone and Marianna at the Aroma for making my day so special! Grazie mille tanto!!

Contact:

Via Labicana 125, Rome.

Dear Readers: Never Stop Dreaming

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Cari Lettori,

On the 5th of March I wrote this post about missing Italy. I had no idea when I would visit the land of my calling. Many of you reached out to me, empathising with me, understanding my feelings; some of you were responsive with the same thought while others asked me when would I go. Trust me I had not the faintest hint because I was just thinking of it as a far fetched dream…..

You might have heard that sometimes when you least expect, things happen at the drop of a hat. That was exactly what happened to me!

I realized that all along I was waiting for something to transpire, something out-worldly, when in reality I should have been the one making it happen. So I focused on what I had- the resources, time, money…..and things started to come to me. I set some goals and budgeted my trip. And now...

I AM IN ITALY!

fiastra lake from the top

Lago di Fiastra, Le Marche (Credits: DiscoverMarche)

I have collaborated with the lovely ladies from DiscoverMarche who have an excellent blog on the most beautiful yet one of the least talked about regions of Italy- LE MARCHE! Go follow them and see what they have to show you!! I will be in Le Marche with them and there will also be many other towns before and after.

Join me on my Facebook and Instagram pages and drop me a comment if you follow me there!

But before you go…

I just want to tell you all something that I have learnt in the past few years and that defines me well. If you are thinking, planning and dreaming of something big in your life, don’t wait. Find that inner courage and do it.

MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Let go of the fears, the ifs and buts…If you have an idea, materialize it; if you have a sense of urgency, don’t wait.

Never stop dreaming!!

Arrivederci from the other side of the world!

Ishita

Charming Italian Sentences I Love

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Many of you who have stuck around on Italophilia for long know that I did posts on Charming Italian Words. Those posts were a hit because they connected with people who are either in Italy or Italians or just fellow Italophilies like me!

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Today I go a notch higher to see some phrases/sentences that I love using. I have recently taken a break from classes and am continuing study from home. It is a test to see how much I have gathered in the past year of study because I know the best test is talking in Italy.

Anyhow, here are some of the my Professore told and that have stayed with me:

Al piu` presto: As soon as possible

Con buona volunta: With a good attitude

Stato d’animo: State of mind

Mettere la benzina: Add fuel to the fire.

C’era di tutto: There was everything

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Non ce la faccio piu`: I can’t manage it anymore

Non mi importa un fico secco: I don’t give a damn

Sotto banco: Under the table

Portare in giro: To show around

Ognuno ha i suoi gusti: To each his/her own

Favorites please?? Mine are non ce la faccio piu`and ognunoi ha i suoi gusti! They resonate with life in general 😉

The Medieval “Festa dei Ceri” in Gubbio

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Every year on May 15, the town of Gubbio celebrates a festival as old as 8 centuries. Losely translated “Festa dei Ceri” means the Festival of the Candles. But let me tell you that there are no candles in this festival. Instead, you will see huge long wooden sticks or “Ceri” that are part of a wooden base or a “Barelle“, each with the wax statue of a Saint.

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Image Credits: Italia.it

Festa dei Ceri is Gubbio’s way of honoring its Patron Saint – Ubaldo whose miraculous abilities have always been honored by the town.

Festa dei Ceri involves the entire town and I think that is commendable because it gives a spirit of unity. Every man, woman and child; young or old, upholds the tradition and folklore behind this festival.

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The town is divided in three different teams/groups that can be distinguished by the colors of their clothes:

Saint Ubaldo group wears Yellow
Saint Antonio group wears Black
Saint Georgio group wears Blue

At 5:00 a.m. on May 15 every year, there is a mass at the Church. After that around 9-9:30 am people start to gather at the main square of the town called “Piazza Grande”. This is where the Ceri are lifted by their respective teams. The Ceri contain wax statues of each saint. Around 11:30 am each team undertakes three laps with their ceri in the Piazza. There is a lot of shouting and merriment for the teams as well as the onlookers.

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The octagonal Ceri, which weigh more than 250kgs each, are then taken to different streets of the town. They look quite a sight bobbing around and getting swayed by different hands. Its fabulous to see how the Italians celebrate!!

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After some time, each Ceri is rested on a base in Via Savelli della Porta while the teams go for lunch. Unfortunately, after lunch I missed evereything as there was a bus strike in Perugia (yes that happens in Italy) that day and since I could not get a hotel in Gubbio, I had to head back to Perugia by 4:00 p.m. However, a few locals that I befriended told me that at around 6:00 p.m, the Ceri return to the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo, which is located on top of Gubbio, in Mount Ingino.

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Visiting Gubbio was as if I had traveled back in time. Everything was traditional and done as per the customs and rituals that were followed aeons ago.

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In the paper next day, I saw a shot of the festival from above. I was stunned to see it for a minute and it was hard to believe that I really managed to stay intact among all that crowd and chaos!

Points to Note:

  • Book a hotel on time. Everything is full by the first week of April.
  • As a tourist or a spectator try not to do anything that upsets the locals.
  • Always make sure you get a good spot as you may be pushed and shoved especially when the Ceri arrive at the piazza.
  • Check the bus schedule from Perugia. There are no trains to this town.
  • Grab a bite before you head to the piazza. My stomach grumbled after 12 p.m.

I planned my entire trip to Italy to just view this festival and I am thrilled and proud to have been involved in something that is so medieval.

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Festa dei Ceri should not be missed if you are going to Italy. The festival attracts a crowd of more than 150,000 every year. The mayhem and spirit is addictive! I could go again someday just to feel it! Also the gothic architecture, Roman theatre, medieval gates add to charming ancient”ness” of the town of Gubbio. 

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“Gubbio produces an absolutely stunning effect and has something unreal and perturbing about it.””

 

Goodbye Budapest: A Magical Evening on the Danube

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Walking from the Castle Hill

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Shoes on the Danube: A sad reminder of the Jews who died during WWII

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Tranquility

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Did you know the Danube river flows through 10 countries

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The magic begins at 7 p.m.

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Breathtaking!

Sunset vibes in Budapest.

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Goodbye Budapest!

Budapest, you are so wonderful!😍🙌

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And it’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading the Budapest series this whole month as much as I enjoyed posting about it 🙂

See you soon!

Ci vediamo presto!

Where to Eat in Budapest

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I don’t usually do food posts, this is my first. I just eat and don’t have the patience to click every thing on my plate. So you might have to imagine certain things because I don’t have pictures for them 😛 Nevertheless, here are some good spots for coffee, gelato, drinks and food in general:

California Coffee Company: I saw it everywhere in Budapest. It was like Cafe Coffee Day of India. But only better. Coffee was real nice even though it was super crowded and in one of the busiest square of the city. The smoothies were delicious and the views didn’t disappoint me. This coffee shop is dog friendly so that’s a big plus.

Type: Budget and Medium

Goa Mama Coffee: This is the cutest cafe in Budapest and I stopped here only because of the name (Goa is a place in India). Goa Mama has very pretty exteriors and interiors along with great iced coffee, shakes and home made cakes! It’s really worth visiting.

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Type: Budget

Ruin Pubs: I have to admit I only went to two ruin pubs in Budapest. Once with a Free Walking Tour in the day and once alone at night. I wish I had company to enjoy because it really did feel unfair sitting alone and sipping my negroni. But I love the concept of shady ruined dumped furniture and equipment being used to create these cool places. Szimpla and Instant are my recommendations for ruin pubs.

Type: Medium and Splurge

Vaci Utca: This is a shopping street laden with cafes, restaurants and stores. There are a ton of options to eat and contrary to what I thought they aren’t as expensive as it would be in other parts of Europe. Just pick one!

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Type: Medium and Splurge

Gelarto Rosa: A famous Hungarian gelato parlour that gives rose shaped gelato. Not only is the packaging dainty and pretty but its delicious too. There are gelato types for vegans and lactose intolerant as well.

Type: Super budget

Prettiness in a cone at Gelarto Rosa🍦😍

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The people at 'My Little Melbourne Brew Bar' are doing a great job promoting filter coffee. #welovebudapest

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My Little Melbourne Brew Bar: There are two bars by this name adjacent to each other, one is the espresso bar and the other is the brew bar. I had a filter coffee at the espresso bar- a very cool hipster cafe. The service wasn’t very friendly then but I loved the coffee. Couldn’t believe how cheap everything in Budapest was compared to other cities of Europe.

Type: Budget

Frohlich Bakery: The Jewish quarter in the city has so many food joints that it seemed like a city within a city. What I specially liked was the fact that it was so traditional. Try the Apple and Poppy seed cake at the Frohlich- a modest bakery with a very happy looking owner. The cake is very heavy but worth it. Also Free Wi-Fi!!

Type: Budget

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A Hungarian wrap with lots of vegetables, cheese and mint. It was delicious and perfectly hot! #traveltoeat

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Pizza Eataliano: Good Italian food only 5 steps away from the Andrassay tram stop.  It has a beautiful terrace to relax after a long day. Loved their selection of Italian wines though I only enjoyed a quick pizza here.

Type: Medium

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Callas Cafe: Callas is a very Parisian feel cafe in Budapest. Slightly expensive as its on the main street next to the Opera but its worth a visit. Try their gelato and coffee or if in the mood to splurge anything you don’t understand which could be very Hungarian.

Type: Splurge

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Bamba Marha Burger Bar: At the corner of the Andrassay Avenue is this cool place serving delicious burgers. The place is full at night and it definitely seems like a very popular spot for locals. I tried their Elvis burger and loved it! The only problem here is that there are only a few options for drinks except for some canned juices.

Type: Budget

TOP TIP: If you are not from around Hungary, please check what you are paying. I mean the currency is a bit confusing and a couple of times I ended up paying more Forints than what I had to. I was lucky that both times I was returned the correct amount back. (Bless those people)