life on pine

December 2016

budapest mini guide: what to explore

Kate ParrishComment


szechenyi thermal bath the most popular and it is definitely pretty, but honestly not that refreshing for the full bath experience. it is very touristy, dirty and overly packed. if you only have time for 1 or 2 then i'd skip it honestly.

gellert spa & bath our favorite of the baths. in a stunning, old and historic building - this bath is a clean, fun experience in beautiful setting. there is a fun walk here up the hill that has great views over the city.

rudas thermal bath new building and much more modern than the other baths, but very clean and is right on the river. they have a cool spa on the roof looking back over the city that i recommend.




shoes on the danube during WWII hundreds of innocent men, women and children (Jews, gays, etc) were ordered to take off their shoes and shot at the end of the river, their bodies fell in and floated away.  it's a tragic story and beautiful memorial, completed in 2005

parliament built for an empire 5 times the size of hungary, it's neo gothic architecture is stunning and it's size grand. also check out the opera house skip a show, but do the tour it’s a stunning building

budapest castle district (fisherman’s bastion, royal palace, matthias church, chain bridge) budapest’s most important medieval monuments and museums (UNESCO site). bring drinks from pest (much cheaper) and go here for sunset

great market hall 100 year old market where locals go to shop, fun to browse and grab lunch here [langos!] 

house of terror & hungarian national are two great museums - the exhibits are moving and eye opening on the war filled history here

margaret island in the middle of the danube. tons of walking trails, big open green spaces, and a couple of great restaurants, etc.

for more on budapest visit our "where to eat, drink and things to try" and "scenes from around the city" posts, or watch our travel video here



budapest mini guide: where to eat, drink & things to try

Kate ParrishComment

budapest, hungary's capital, is actually two cities merged into one [split by the danube river]. its 19th century chain bridge connects the hilly buda district with the flat pest district. buda represents the old town and castle hill, opposed to pest which has the old jewish quarter and represents the upbeat energy of the city today. 

our time here was mixed, with a few days on our own and a few days with friends & family to celebrate thanksgiving. what a wonderful experience we had exploring this unique and incredible city. we loved the pace, the people, their cafe culture and the deep history around every corner. the city is affordable, fun and has a little something for everyone...below are some of things we loved.


BREAKFAST & LUNCH || STIKA budapest coffee and fun breakfast spot || bistro suppé healthy local snacks and really good soup ||  déryné bisztró must come here for brunch before visiting castle hill [short walk from here] || grand market hall can't leave with out trying langos here! || centrál kávéház elegant historic cafe with marble tables & balcony, come here for coffee & cakes || steg fish bar great fish soup and other seafood! 

DINNER || két szerecsen need to do at least 1 dinner here, so cozy - shared plates style and the house wine is delicious. zeller bistro

COCKTAILS || bar pharma or gresham palace budapest for cocktails RUIN PUBS || szimpla kert the first and most popular of the “ruin pubs”. have an organic farmers market here on sundays too. 

COFFEE ||  konyha coffee, tea, food or wine/beer. this place was one of our favorite cafes to hang at for hours.  juicy & budapest bagel grab a juice or try a creative hungarian bagel option like goose liver pate || madal café great coffee and ambiance || espresso embassy beautiful space with a 200-year-old vaulted brick ceiling || fekete ‘black’ in hungarian - their subtle hint on how to order.  

TEAHOUSE || sirius or red lion two old teahouses loaded with cushions and zen vibes for taking a break.


things to try

lángos classic hungarian street food, deep fried flatbread with all kinds of toppings. the basic is sour cream and cheese, adding red onion, arugula and tomato was our favorite.  

goulash soup meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices. 

fisherman's soup (halászlé) & goose liver hungarians are famous for it.

boat ride on the water day or night is fun and a great way to see the city. budapest is second only to paris for brightest cities at night.


a few more photos with our friends... 

for more on budapest visit our "where to explore" and "scenes from around the city" posts, or watch our travel video here


4 cozy european christmas markets

Kate Parrish2 Comments

joyous noel from switzerland! chistmas in europe is the most festive thing i've ever seen.

with no thanksgiving holiday, the christmas markets here start around mid-november which gives a whole lot of time to enjoy the christmas spirit. most city's main squares are covered in tiny wooden shops featuring craftsman, christmas decorations, local foods {meats & sweets}, holiday beverages [for children and adults], beautiful lights, decorated trees, live music, and always happy vibes. packed with tourists and locals alike, every night of the week is lively and gives you good reason to brave the cold winter temps. here are a few of the our favorite christmas markets:

1. VIENNA, austria 

for more info on the vienna holiday markets, click here


2. MUNICH, germany 

for more info on the munich christmas markets, click here


3. BUDAPEST, hungary 

for more information on budapest christmas markets, click here


4. KRAKOW, poland

for more information on the krakow christmas markets, click here

6 places to travel in 2017

Kate Parrish2 Comments

as 2016 comes to a close [i still can't believe how fast this year flew], we're reminiscing on some of the places we've been in the last couple of years. the following 6 came to mind as favorites... in no particular order, really. there is something for every traveler in this list – if you're on a budget or looking to splurge, if you love the mountains or prefer beaches, if big cities are your thing or small tiny villages. for more trip planning, you can also check out our full list of travel guides or browse our post archives. happy holidays! 


PHOTO LOCATION: emerald lake lodge, canada
WHEN WE VISITED: june, 2016
WHAT WE LOVED: the cozy hotel, the endless hikes available, the crystal blue lakes
OUR TRIP DETAILS: see our travel guide for tips on how to make this trip happen, and our travel video here 



PHOTO LOCATION: lagos, in the algarve
WHEN WE VISITED: august & september, 2016
WHAT WE LOVED: the incredibly cool city vibes in lisbon, the quaint and charming feel of porto, the fresh fish, fair prices and arguably world's best beaches that sweep the algarve region
OUR TRIP DETAILS: see our lisbon travel guide for tips on how to make this trip happen, and all of our portugal blog posts can be found here



PHOTO LOCATION: reine, norway
WHEN WE VISITED: august, 2016
WHAT WE LOVED: the raw untouched beauty, the peaceful and remote feeling of the many islands, fresh fish everywhere, endless hiking/adventure options and the unique surf culture
OUR TRIP DETAILS: see our travel guide for tips on how to make this trip happen, and our travel video here 



PHOTO LOCATION: dedon island, siargao
WHEN WE VISITED: november, 2015
WHAT WE LOVED: the mix of adventure and beaches, extremely friendly locals, delicious food and dreamy sunsets
OUR TRIP DETAILS: see our travel guide for tips on how to make this trip happen, and all of our posts here



PHOTO LOCATION: tre cime di lavaredo hike
WHEN WE VISITED: october, 2016
WHAT WE LOVED: the off-the-beaten path feeling of these trails, striking mountain skyline, warm locals and delcious {italian <3} food
OUR TRIP DETAILS: see posts from our trip here



PHOTO LOCATION: lake bled, from the top of the ojstrica hike
WHEN WE VISITED: october, 2016
WHAT WE LOVED: the preserved slovenian culture, geographic diversity and appreciation of their beautiful natural landscape. some locals say this is the new zealand of europe...which seems like a fair comparison.
OUR TRIP DETAILS: travel guide coming soon, but see our posts here

lodging in belgrade: boatel charlie & square nine

Kate ParrishComment


docked on the danube and just across an island bird preserve, staying here is a very unique and peaceful experience. just a short bus ride or 20 minute walk into downtown, you feel removed from the bustle of the city when drinking your morning coffee on the deck, yet comfortably close for when you're ready to explore.

boatel charlie is simple and beautifully designed, with a cozy fireplace to welcome guests on chillier days. even better – they offer bikes, have super comfy beds, an extremely loving staff, delicious breakfast and are located in the park which makes for a perfect morning run if that's your thing. we loved everything about our stay at this unique little hotel. €40 - €75 depending on the season


walking into square nine hotel pretty much feels like you're on the set of mad men. their sophisticated and elegant design goes into every single tiny detail, and it's very obvious that every touch was intentional. you can read more about their gorgeous antique furniture here. stop by for coffee in the morning, drinks and live music in the evening ... or even try one of their tasty restaurants. and if you're looking to splurge on a room, it will absolutely be worth it. €250 - €300 depending on the season

** this post was part of a collaboration, all opinions are my own.