San Diego: best places to eat on a budget

I adore San Diego and I adore the food here. Spending about a week here has given me the time to try all the food that I wanted to. I’m always on a student budget, so I’m always looking for cheap places to go that have good food. These are the places that stood out to me.

In n Out

I had to try In n Out burger when I was here, and it did not disappoint. Cheeseburger with onions and fries animal style for me, double cheeseburgers for R. I also appreciate their tiny menu so much, I hate decisions and love simple.

El Zarape

There are two of these in close proximity to each other, but one of them it more expensive, and one of them has .99 cent fish tacos. I’ve been here a few times because they are amazing, and a dollar. I didn’t try any other food item on the menu, but their giant margaritas are good too.

El Zarape

Senior Grubby’s

We grabbed some burritos to go on our way home from Carlsbad and ate them on the beach. If you’re in Carlsbad and looking for Mexican- this is the place to go.

Senior Grubby's

Soda and Swine

PIZZA KNOTS. YES. So good. And a side of fries. We sat here playing Scrabble and drinking. Honestly, these pizza knots were amazing, and this place is really cute with an open ceiling, a fireplace, and lots of board games.

Lolitas

Lolitas is right across from the baseball stadium- don’t be scared away by the line because it goes quickly. We both got the California Burrito. I was sceptical about this one because of the fries in the burrito, but it was unreal. It was bigger than my head and I couldn’t finish it.

Lolita's

The Crack Shack

R said that the sandwich he got here was in the top five things he’s eaten in his entire life, and he has eaten a lot of things. He got the Firebird, and I got the G-Bird. The line here went quickly as well, definitely worth it. We went before the farmers market in Little Italy because it’s very close. We ended up going back the next day and I had the Firebird too, he was “both surprised and disappointed” that I finished it all.

The Crack ShackThe Crack ShackThe Crack Shack

Baked Bear

Yes, you need this in your life. Ice cream sandwiches made out of cookies or brownies. So good, worth the line, worth the calories.

Buona Forchetta

We figured we needed at least one nice-ish dinner that didn’t consist of .99 cent tacos. Make a reservation for this place, we didn’t and waited over an hour. Luckily, there’s a brewery across the street so we played Scrabble and watched the hockey game while we waited. Our food came out in what seemed like minutes, we got the octopus, focaccia bread, and a margarita pizza, all of it was amazing, especially the pizza. I don’t love octopus, but R loved it. We got cannolis for dessert, ALMOST as good as the ones I had in Italy.

Nomad Donuts

Seriously regretting not picking up a couple doughnuts here, but what can you do? I got an everything bagel with garlic and herb cream cheese. There were literal chunks of garlic in the cream cheese. If you’re vegan, they had tons of vegan options for delicious looking doughnuts.

Nomad Donuts

We usually do breakfast at home, and we made lunch at our Airbnb a couple times. Sometimes we would just grab a sandwich at Von’s and eat on the beach. We went to several breweries that would be worth checking out, except I didn’t pay attention to the names of them. There are just so many in this city!

Mike Hess

My favourite thing about San Diego is the great Mexican food. There are so many options, and it’s always so good. I think this is the first trip we’ve gone on where we haven’t eaten hummus, falafel, shawarma, or kebabs, and I’m not even mad about it. Have you found the best food in San Diego? If there’s anything I missed that’s worth checking out, let me know, I’m sure I’ll be back in this city soon.

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Budapest: The best restaurants

I could go on and on… and on, about how good Hungarian food is, but restaurants in Hungary are not where I usually eat it. Budapest has everything you could ever want when it comes to food. I ended up going back to some of my favourites from the last time I was here, but also discovered some new places. These are the spots I’ll keep going back to every time I end up here, because all roads lead to Budapest.

Breakfast

Cold cuts, bread, or eggs are popular here for breakfast. I usually just get yogurt, fruit, and sometimes a pastry, from the grocery store. My favourite pastry is the one filled with cheese (túrós táska). R’s grandma makes these, and it was only this year when I was introduced to this magical invention. I’ll need to get her to teach me how to make these all by myself.

pastry

Túrós táska

Kebabs

You’ll find a kebab stand on every corner here, and I consume more of these than I’d like to admit, but my favourite is Pasa Kebab. The baked pita kebabs are unreal, and their kebab pizza is also really good. Honestly, Pizza King Express, and the other 500HUF (around 2.50CAN) kebab stands are good too. I mean you can’t really go wrong with a kebab, ever.

kebab pizza

Pasa Kebab pizza

Hungarian, Thai, Mexican, and Hummus

These are my favourite restaurants in the city, and the ones I’ve found myself going to on multiple occasions.

If you want traditional Hungarian food at a good price, go to Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő. It’s not insanely overpriced like most of the Hungarian restaurants in the touristy areas of the city, and the food is amazing. Last time, I got the goulash, and R got the deer stew. This time, getting the deer stew at this restaurant was a priority, so we went here our first night.

deer stew

Thai food is one of my favourites, and the food at Parasz Thai is some of the best I’ve ever had. The Pad Thai and the hot and sour soup are both really good. The salad rolls are really good. The lemonade is really good. Everything is really good. There’s a few locations around the city.

Mexican food is also something I could eat everyday and not get sick of. Iguana is the place to go in Budapest for Mexican. I’ve been here a few times, and consumed a couple pitchers of margaritas and a few too many chips. The smokey salsa, guacamole, fajitas, jalapeno/cream cheese soup, and taco salad are all my top picks. I think this was the first restaurant I went to in Budapest, and I’ll go here every time I come back.

Falafel and hummus are something I eat on the regular as well. There’s a chain called The Hummus Bar, that has restaurants all over Budapest. Don’t even get me started on their laffa bread, only one of the locations has this though. We had an emergency hummus craving one night, and went here but they were closed. There were still some employees kicking around, and let us buy hummus and bread to go. My HEROES.

Bars

I’ve been to quite a few of the ruin bars, and you should definitely make a point of exploring all of them. They’re all so unique. Szimpla Kert is one of my favourites. It’s usually packed, but if you need to pick one ruin bar, go here. There’s an upstairs, an outside area, and really interesting decor.

szimpla

this was taken upstairs looking down

Especially this time around, I’ve been at Froccskocsma more that I’d like to admit. Go here if you like wine spritzers; they’re 190HUF (90cents CAN) each. We’ve spent a few afternoons sitting here, doing homework, and taking advantage of the cheap spritzers. There’s a cheap kebab stand (yay) right outside, that you can order from if you get hungry from all the homework and learning. There’s a bar across the street with a really similar name that’s owned by the same people, where everything is double the price, so be careful and make sure you go to the cheap one.

Sweet things

I have a huge sweet tooth, and Hungarian’s make the best cakes.

Ruszwurm Cafe is a must visit. They have the best Krémes, which is my absolute favourite cake, ever. This cafe has been around for close to forever, and it’s always busy. It’s right by Fisherman’s Bastion. They make their Krémes with whipped cream instead of the egg whites that several bakeries make theirs with. I tried the Dobostort this time too. It’s very Hungarian, and very traditional; it’s a walnut cake and chocolate frosting with about ten layers in total, and a caramel triangle on top. The cheese danish is also delicious, and so is the coffee. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

kremes

Ruszwurm’s last time

ruszwurm

Ruszwurm’s this time

Another place I’ve tried Krémes is Gerbeaud. We didn’t go here this time, but it’s one of the best cafes in the city. It’s made with egg whites here. I love this cake no matter what, but I think I like it better with the whipped cream instead of egg whites.

gerbeaud

Gerbeaud Cafe last time

Langos is a must try in Hungary as I’ve mentioned before. It’s not sweet, but you can get sweet toppings put on top if you’re not in the mood for garlic. The cheapest and best place to get it is Central Market Hall. This market has everything; lots of people who live here do their grocery shopping here. It’s definitely a good place to immerse yourself in Hungarian culture, try new food, or buy souvenirs.

danube

There are tons of places to eat in Budapest that are good, but I’ve been to all of these places more than once, and would go to them again. Avoid the expensive restaurants in the tourist areas, and read reviews before trying a new place. This city has something for everyone, and any type of food you could ever crave. Even Kraft Dinner, it’s sold at the American grocery store.

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Reasons to visit Budapest in the winter

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Why do I love this city so much? I adore it. Last time I was here, it was over 30 degrees everyday. We went to the lake, ran around the island, and spent a lot of time drinking on patios. This time, it’s Christmas. After every city I’ve gone to recently not having their market open or Christmas lights on, Budapest does. I’m hoping the amount of hot wine I’ve consumed since being here is acceptable because of the Christmas lights. Other than the things you should see all year round, these are the must do’s in the winter.

train station

Budapest Train Station

The Christmas Market

This is number one. I’ve spent almost every night here just walking around. There’s one market in Vörösmarty Square that opened November 11th this year, and the other in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica opened November 25th. Hot wine, langos, chimney cakes, goulash, and everything else I can’t pronounce are all sold here. Coming soon is the best things to eat at the market; that place is overwhelming. Things have gone up in price a bit everywhere in this city, and especially are more expensive in the tourist filled markets. Can you blame them though? Even if you buy your wine (or chimney cake) somewhere just outside the market, it’ll be cheaper, and it’s fun walking around looking all the decorations, cookware, and of course, the food.

 

Varosligeti Mujegpalya

This is the outdoor skating rink, and opens mid November. Last time I was here, I remember people using those little swan pedal boats where the ice is now. It’s by the castles and Hero’s Square. I find it really interesting that kids don’t wear helmets when skating. The last time I tried to go skating with the “skate with the players” thing with Robi’s old team, I was asked to put on a helmet. Survival of the fittest I guess? I saw a man here skating around with a weighted vest on as fast as he possibly could. Public skating terrifies me a little because there are so many people who think they’re athletes, and I don’t want to get run over by them. It was fun though. It’s such a big ice rink that it doesn’t really feel as busy as it is.

 

Thermal Baths

I had no desire to go here in the summer, but it’s cold out so I figured I should go at least once. We went to the biggest one, called Szechenyi Thermal Baths. This place is a maze. I didn’t realize how massive it was. I wanted to go from 6-8am so it was cheaper, but I didn’t wake up in the morning. There’s no other option other than to just buy a day pass, but I was over it after two hours. It was the most expensive bath I’ve ever taken. The water also smells like farts in some of the pools… It’s the sulfur and the other minerals that are supposed to be good for you. Did I make this place sound desirable?

thermal baths

szechenyi thermal bath

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

The Budapest Eye

This wasn’t here in the summer, and apparently it used to be here permanently and was way bigger, but now it’s just a plain old ferris wheel with lights on it. It looks gorgeous lit up at night, but there’s not a chance I’m paying for that when you can get the same view from Fisherman’s Bastion. If I had more money to waste on dumb shit, I definitely would though- same deal as the London Eye.

budapest eye

The Budapest Eye

I think I’m enjoying Budapest more the second time around. Whether that’s because of the hot wine, the fact that I absolutely hate the heat, if I’m just stoked to not be paying $16 for a beer anymore, or it’s actually better in the winter, I’m not sure. There’s so much to do even though it’s a bit cold, especially if you get lucky and have a few sunny days.

 

budapest castleBudapest Castle

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budapest in winter

Roadtrip to Rouen and Normandy, France

What do you do when it’s a Tuesday, but your flight out of Paris isn’t until Friday, and your hotel has no more space? Drive up north! We rented a car and drove from Paris to Rouen. It was absolutely terrifying driving in the city, but we made it out alive. Rouen is only an hour and a half drive from Paris, and it’s the most enchanting little town.

cathedral

We spent the first night wandering around. Somehow, we always end up staying in the sketchiest part of town. Another thing that sucks about travelling mid November is that they start decorating for Christmas and setting up the markets, but they’re not actually open yet.

cathedral

this town has an abundance of fancy churches

The streets were beautiful with wood houses, cute bakeries, and tons of boutiques with nice clothes and jewelry.

I think I could live here. It’s not a far drive from Paris, and has everything you could need. It’s not too busy but also not a ghost town. It looks like the type of town fairytales were written about. We weren’t sure if it was worth the hassle of renting a car to come here, but I’m so glad we did. The vanilla tart pictured above is also one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. On our last day we went back in search of the tart but the bakery was already closed. Sad was an understatement.

On the second day, we drove up to the beaches of Normandy, and that was one of the most eye opening days I’ve experienced. These beautiful beaches are where the Allies finally gained foothold in France on June 6th, 1944. The beaches are littered with museums, monuments, cemeteries, and battle remains from D-Day. This area of France is absolutely gorgeous. The beaches go on forever; these little towns surrounding them look like they thrive in the summer with carousels and ice cream stands, but nearly 20,000 people died on these beaches.

We got off to an early start and drove to Sword beach first. This was probably the shortest stop of the day.

Juno beach was next. Taking Juno was the responsibility of the Canadian Army- their WWII museum is here.

Juno Beach

Gold beach still has the remains of the artificial dock they built after taking the beach.

We kept driving and reached Omaha Beach. This is where the US memorial and cemetery is; we spent quite a bit of time here.

Omaha BeachOmaha BeachOmaha BeachUS CemeteryUS Cemetery

Between Omaha and Utah is Pointe du Hoc. It’s the highest point between the two beaches. Here, there are craters in the ground from bombs, bunkers, and the Ranger Monument. US Army Rangers scaled the 100-foot cliffs and seized the German artillery pieces that could have fired on the American landing troops at Omaha and Utah beaches.

Pointe du Hoc

The most eye opening part of this day for me was the US cemetery. All of these white crosses seemed to go on forever- and they were only US men, killed only on D-Day and the days following.

If you have extra time in Paris, you should definitely consider going here. Normandy is more than WWII history. It’s rich in French culture, art, and the region has over 30 Michelin-starred chefs. There are lots of other things to see, but exploring this area filled with history was both powerful and heartbreaking.

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Everything I ate in Paris

Why does everything taste better in this city? As much as I loved seeing the Eiffel Tower, walking down the Champs Élysées, the Louvre, and everything else Paris had to offer, I might have been more impressed with the things I ate.

The first thing I ate upon arrival was a lemon tart.

Lemon tart

We got a baguette for breakfast on our first morning and ate it on the bed in our hotel room. The baguette was still warm, and why is French butter so much better than in Canada?

Breakfast!

For lunch one day, I had a life-changing shawarma from Ya Mir. I don’t know what they did to the meat, but it tasted almost sour, but not sour. Horseradish? Mustard? I don’t know. That makes it sound gross, but it wasn’t. It was also pretty cheap- 5.5 euros each.

Ya Mir Shawarma

Ya Mir Shawarma

 

I had my heart set on eating a croissant in Paris, and I ended up having one for breakfast every day after the first morning. The last morning here, I branched out and tried a pain au chocolat. These were all far more impressive than the ones I used to get at Tim Horton’s.

L'as du Fallafel

L’as du Fallafel

L’as du Fallafel is all over the internet as a “must try” in Paris, and for a good reason. I was not prepared for this falafel, it’s the world’s best. I will go back to Paris for this before I go back for the Eiffel Tower. How is it so good??? And it’s only around 6 euros each. The line moves quickly, but even if it didn’t, it would still be worth it.

Vanilla Flan

R got this Vanilla Flan from the Smith Bakery. I had a couple bites and was immediately angry I didn’t get my own.

One of the only French meals we actually had while in France was at the Chartier. The line went really quickly. We were kind of worried it was a tourist trap, but it was mostly French people eating there. It was really cheap for what you got (28 euros for two, including a pitcher of sangria and dessert), and the food was good. The atmosphere was bad, and the bread was sub-par. I got the roast chicken and green beans, and we shared the chestnut cream for dessert, but I wasn’t crazy about that.

I figured I had to try macarons in Paris, even though I’ve never been a fan of them. I always thought they were overrated. On the last day when I still hadn’t bought any, I decided the next macaron shop I saw I would get a couple. I’m basic so I got chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut. Only after leaving the store, I realized it was Pierre Herme, one of the “go to” macaron shops in the city. Needless to say, I liked these macarons. I was too afraid to try some of the weird flavours like caviar, olive oil, or passion fruit, but simple is best.

L'as du FallafelL'as du Fallafel

We obviously ended up back at L’as du Fallafel, the man at the door even recognized us. We ate inside this time and shared the shawarma platter with a side of falafel and hummus. I almost wished I wasn’t full so I could have kept ordering more food. That’s how good it was.

Amorino

Ice cream in November, because I read Amorino was a must and hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in France is literally melted chocolate in a cup and I have mixed feelings about it.

As someone who adores bread and pastry, Paris was heaven. And if you ever want to go to Paris and feel like it’s really affordable, go to Norway first. Everything is good at all of the bakeries, and you won’t go wrong with bread at the grocery stores. As far as restaurants go, I’m the type of person that will google all options intensively because I don’t want to pay for food and be disappointed.

I missed out on eating Onion Soup, Croque Monsieur, caramels from Jacques Genin, Escargot, Steak-Frites, Crème Brulée, and several other traditional French foods. I guess we were too busy eating falafel to worry about trying actual French food. You can only eat so many things in so little time without hating yourself, too (I swear I don’t eat like garbage all the time).

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What to do with 48 hours in London

We bought flights to London for less than what we would pay for two beers in Norway. I had a list of things in my head that I wanted to see, do, and eat, but not everything can be done in so little time. Number one on the list was buy a Burberry coat. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Day one:

When we got off the train we went straight to Leadenhall Market to look around. I had never been to London, and felt like everywhere I looked I said “wow that’s pretty.”

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market

We walked down the river on our way to the Aribnb past the Tower Bridge and looked at the Tower of London. We dropped our stuff off and wandered through this magical walking street with lights everywhere above it.

I have a love for all middle eastern food, and the first place we went to eat was Hummus Bros for falafel salad. This place did not disappoint.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around- Piccadilly, Oxford Circus, and Saville Row so Rob could drool over all of the expensive suits. We saw Buckingham Palace too, of course. I can’t even begin to explain how angry I am that Big Ben was completely under construction. You couldn’t see it at all.

Piccadilly

Piccadilly

Next was the National Gallery so I could see the Sunflower painting by Van Gogh.

van gogh

Sunflowers

We attempted to go on a walking Jack the Ripper tour, but it started pouring rain and we had no umbrella, so we escaped and went to get Indian food at the Lahore Kebab House instead. It also did not disappoint..

Day two:

We woke up pretty early on our second day and grabbed a bagel from Brick Lane Beigel Bake.

Paddington Bear

Little known fact- Rob was a huge Paddington Bear fan when he was a little guy

We spent a lot of time wandering around on the other side of the river this day. We saw the Harry Potter bridge, the Shakespeare Globe, and just walked around looking at all the pretty churches and buildings.

Shakespeare

Shakespeare

Shakespeare Globe

Shakespeare Globe

After that we went to the Burberry Outlet, and I left empty handed. Sad.

We had Fish and chips for lunch for, and then went to the Primrose Bakery for a cupcake.

We went to the Covent Garden where I yet again went into Burberry, and came out empty handed.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden

covent garden

Covent Garden

The next three hours were spent in the Imperial War Museum. If you go here, go to the top exhibit first, and make your way down. The Holocaust exhibit is at the top, so we ended up there last and left really sad.

Harrod’s was next, where we looked at things that we could never afford even if we didn’t buy anything else for the rest of our lives.

harrods

It’s always Christmas at Harrod’s

And of course for dinner, I ended up with curry. Green curry from a pub that for some reason had excellent Thai food.

That was it; two days wasn’t enough to explore everything. I’m currently at the airport in bare feet, because the shoes I had to buy when my boot broke ended up giving me massive blisters and I can barely walk. We missed our flight even though we were on time. I hate you, RyanAir.

We have lots of time to kill. Enough time to book our next flights out of Oslo for Friday so I can get out of Norway for good.

Where’s next?? Hint: C’est très belle et j’adore les baguettes.

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