Saturday, May 27, 2017

Budapest Hungary - Travel & Tourism Guide

Budapest is one of the picturesque cities often advertised on the front of travel magazines and luxury river cruise brochures. It is an enticing destination that has been on my bucket list for years as I dreamed about exploring the sights along the Danube and finally seeing the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building that first peaked my curiosity about the city’s grand architecture.

No matter how often I travel, flying makes me nervous but the comfort of a first class pod and sleeping under a fluffy duvet definitely made the journey more enjoyable and helped reduce jet lag. After seven and a half hours we touched down in Budapest and I began exploring the bustling streets as the flower fuzz of spring wafted through the air.


From the airport you can book a shuttle service directly to your hotel - prices are based on drop-off location so rates shouldn't vary. As you exit the baggage area there are also taxi and car companies offering their services but getting a fair price can be tricky.

The city is divided into 2 sides connected by bridges – Pest (where I stayed) has flatter landscape, more tourists and an abundance of hotels while Buda is hilly with banks that showcase the royal palace.

Since Budapest (pronounced Buda-Pesht) is a very walkable city, staying in or near the city center puts you in close proximity to many of the main attractions, shopping and dining areas. I decided to book at the 4 star Boutique Hotel because of the amazing location, positive ratings and modern decor. The hotel is just steps away from Central Market Hall, the famous pedestrian shopping street Váci Utca and the Danube River. 

(Photo from hotel website:

Although the suites are quite small (which is common in Europe) the room was rather cozy and came with breakfast buffet and wifi. The bed was too low and firm for my comfort but the open lobby and large skylight above the lounge/bar area is a nice place to relax in the evening after an exhausting day touring. The front desk staff were friendly and very helpful but the maid service failed to clear dirty dishes on a daily basis and the weak AC didn’t do very much to cool the room. In terms of TV channels there were only about 3 or 4 in English but overall I definitely recommend this hotel based on cleanliness, style convenience and service.

(Photo from hotel website:

You can visit the hotel website by clicking HERE but I booked the room online via which is priced in Canadian dollars. 

**Travelers Tip: before booking a hotel read traveler reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Expedia

City Tours
There are a few great tour companies in Budapest with buses that take you throughout the city. After doing some research I booked the Big Bus Tour (hop-on-hop-off) which I have also used in other cities including Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, San Francisco and Chicago. This double decker bus tour is a great way to see many of the major attractions without having to walk everywhere or take public transit and there is historical guided commentary in various languages. You can reserve tickets online before departure but I recommend talking to a tour operator in the city as they often give you additional discounts. I booked the 2 day/48 hr deluxe tour which cost €29 and was discounted to €23 per person.

The tour also includes:
-Walking tours of the city
- Unlimited use of the river cruise tour boat (day and night).
-One hour night tour on the bus
-City Map with bus routes and stops
It does not include entrance to any of the museums or attractions but often stops in front or nearby.

** Travelers Tip: be sure to take both river tours – the day cruise is great for photo opportunities and at night you can enjoy the city lights. I also recommend doing the night bus tour but make sure to arrive at the stop at least 30 mins early for good seats.  

Attractions: Things to do
There are many amazing things to see and do in Budapest so do your research and make plans based on what your interests are. Some of the top sights and places I visited include:

St. Stephens’ Basilica
(A Roman Catholic Basilica named after the first king of Hungary)
Entrance to the church is free but donations are customary upon entry (usually about HUF 200 or €1). The colors inside the church are stunning and I highly recommend paying the HUF 600 or $2.95 CAD to take the elevator up to the dome for an amazing view of the city!
*Note: HUF is the currency symbol for the Hungarian Forint

Fisherman’s Bastion
(A beautiful terrace on the Buda bank of the Danube)
Fisherman’s Bastion is one of the most popular attractions in Budapest for its panoramic city views and it is free to explore! The Big Bus Tour does not stop there during the day so you can take a taxi up (which is a good idea in the summer) or commit to the long walk uphill with many stairs and paths (it was a good workout!).

Once you reach the top of Fisherman's Bastion you are rewarded with a fabulous birdseye view of the river, parliament building and surrounding landscape with cool breezes and a small cafe if you'd like a drink or gelato. 

**Travelers Tip: Make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes because you'll need them!

Matthias Church
(Roman Catholic Church)
At the top of Fisherman’s Bastion you will also find Matthias Church. You can purchase tickets for entry (HUF 1 500 / $7.38 CAD) and the mosaic tiles on the roof are just as colorful as the eccentric pillars and arches inside.

Váci Utca
(One of the main pedestrian streets and perhaps the most famous in central Budapest)
Since this street was just steps from my hotel I spent a great deal of time shopping, having dinner at the outdoor patios and sitting by the monument at night enjoying the atmosphere with a gelato or Kürtőskalác in-hand.
Andrássay Avenue
(An elegant boulevard with restaurants, cafes and high-end shops)
Andrássay Avenue is on the way to Hero Square so you can hop off the tour bus and stroll up the street which is shaded by large trees.

Thermal Baths
Budapest is well known for warm thermal baths supplied with water from underground springs that are said to have healing properties. Soaking in a public bath/pool with a large number of near naked travelers from all over the world is not my cup-of-tea but many people do enjoy the experience.

Hungarian Parliament Building/ Parliament of Budapest
Although I didn’t have time to see the inside of the building, tours can be booked in advance.

**Travelers Tip: The best panoramic view of the Parliament Building is from Fisherman’s Bastion but the best close-up photos can be taken from a river boat with an open deck. At night the building is beautifully illuminated which also makes for a great photo.

Danube Cruise and Promenade
Along the river there are restaurants, patio bars and many places to sit and relax. As mentioned earlier, the Big Bus Tour includes a sightseeing cruise but lunch and dinner cruises can be booked separately.

**Travelers Tip: look for dinner cruises online before your trip to compare traveler reviews, food quality and menus. Booking in advance can also save you some money.

Buda Castle
You can take the funicular up to Buda Castle for about HUF 1 800 / $8.86 CAD. The buildings themselves house beautiful art galleries (which you can enjoy for an additional fee) while the outer grounds and gardens offer spectacular views and a small souvenir shop where I found some unique scarves.

           Hero Square
(Monument featuring the Magyars and other important national leaders)

City Park

**Travelers Tip: Make note of the hours of operations for the sites/attractions you want to visit since many museums are closed on Monday.

I didn’t try much Hungarian food like Goulash Soup or Paprika Chicken but I did have the Chimney Cake or Kürtőskalács which is a light dough (similar to pretzel bread but not as dense) cooked over hot coals and rolled in your choice of toppings like chocolate, cinnamon and nuts.

Curry House serves traditional Indian cuisine and savory dishes like biryani with creamy butter chicken and naan.
*Address: Budapest Bródy Sándor u. 21 1085 Hungary

Bangkok Thai Restaurant is located just steps away from Boutique Hotel (directly across the small street) and the food is delicious! I recommend the Pad Thai and make a reservation if you’d like a table during the evening rush.

Gelarto Rosa (close to St. Stephan’s Basilica) is very popular with tourists for their signature rose designs but the scoops are small and the gelato is mediocre. If you want a cool Instagram photo go for it, otherwise there are better gelato shops around.

Central Market is a great place to find local produce and delicious pastries, I picked up some local honey.        

There are many types of cuisine in Budapest including Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and American chains like KFC, Burger King and Soul Food.

When you get tired of walking, simply sit back on a park bench or relax on the open deck of a tour bus and take a moment to appreciate the sights, smells and sounds of daily life in Budapest. It’s not uncommon to unexpectedly come across a local craft market or festival. The city is energetic and lively with astounding beauty and rich culture

Stay tuned for my article on Vienna Austria! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dior Addict Lip Tattoo Review & NEW 5 Color Eye Shadow Palette

The new Dior Lip Tattoos may have been inspired by the trends and techniques of experts backstage at the hottest runway shows but the durable pigments are also perfect for modern woman tackling their hectic schedules with style.

This new generation of ink provides an ephemeral lip tattoo in a variety of trendy colors ranging from pale nude, universal cherry and bubbly gum pink with luminous finishes. Once applied the formula (which is 50% water) evaporates leaving behind vibrant color and a nourishing dose of emollients that provide light moisture, softness and a refreshing hint of menthol. The texture is so weightless that it doesn’t feel like lipstick at all and the tinted ink transparently fuses with the lips to boost their natural color.

Because of the moisturizing blend of water and oil, the liquid glides on cool and soothing with a juicy wash of color. The more you apply, the longer it takes to dry, but once it does the effect is similar to a pretty stain. The red is most vivid but all of the shades start out quite sheer and can be slightly enhanced for more saturation. Although they aren’t full-coverage, the tints accentuate the lips and provide brightness and comfort with little transfer. I don’t quite get a full 10 hours of wear but they do hold up well and fade nicely. The Lip Tattoos retail for $36.00 each and are available exclusively at Nordstrom.

The Dior 5 Color Eye Shadow Palettes are classic and the new color collections have been reinvented to deliver stronger pigment and richer effects. 357 Electrify has a unique intermingling of color designed to play up the eyes with silky summer hues. The shimmery pink with peachy undertones contrasts beautifully with the range of glistening blues while the silver adds a sheer wash of glittery sparkle to the areas you’d like to enhance. Although I still recommend a good primer to amp-up the pigment, I definitely notice an improvement in color pay-off and the texture is incredibly smooth, lightweight and satiny with no creasing. The palette retails for $72.00 available at Sephora and all other Dior retailers.

I love glamorous lashes but I don’t usually have the time or patience to glue on flasies. When it comes to mascara, it seems like there is a new product launched every week so it takes a lot to impress me and most of the time I don’t even review them. That being said, the Diordshow Pump’N’ Volume Mascara is fabulous! Instead of a traditional brush (which all seem to do the same thing), this one has short, spindly bristles that grab each hair to effectively lengthen and thicken. Squeezing the flexible outer tube makes the high-density formula ideally fluid so the brush receives a load of product to generously coat the hairs without clumping. The effect is thick, voluminous lashes that look stunning! The mascara retails for $37.00 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Lipstick Review

Today I’m in the mood for simple elegance with classic pigments that can get you through any event or occasion with a ravishing wash of color. The iconic Color Rich Lipsticks have been around for a while and the complexion flattering shades add a hint of glam to everyday looks with brilliant shimmer, confidence boosting reds and satiny shine.

These 4 hues are within a color spectrum that compliments most skin tones and the powdery sweet scent smells delicious! I like the stylish packaging, traditional shape and sharp point which helps define the lip contour. No matter what finish you choose, application is smooth and effortless with comfortable glide.

From left to right: 315 True Red is exactly what the name suggests with a lightweight satin texture that drenches lips in supple hydration. 752 Classic Wine is actually a light, frosty pink with muted metallic shine. 762 Divine Wine is quite neutral with a brown undertone and sheer to medium coverage. My favorite shade - 364 Place Vendome makes a bold statement with deep ruby pigment.

The formula is creamy, smooth and luxurious - enriched with an ultra-nourishing blend of Omega 3, Vitamin E and Argan Oil to condition, soften, soothe and prevent dryness. The deeper shades tend to last longer and although there is some transfer I still manage to get a few hours of wear before having to reapply.

With 44 pretty shades to choose from there is definitely something for everyone in this collection and who knows, you may even find your signature shade!

L’Oreal is available at drugstores nationwide and the lipstick retail for about $8.96 each

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Make-Up Designory Canadian Launch & Review

In the spirit of freshening-up your makeup bag for summer Make-Up Designory (MUD) is now officially available in Canada at 10 Sears locations. The renowned New York and Los Angeles brand has been a popular choice with makeup professionals for decades offering high quality pigments, tools and customizable palette options.

I had never tried or heard very much about this brand until recently but their makeup brushes are excellent! The #600 Blender Brush ($32.00) has sturdy bristles and a tapered fluffy point that is perfect for buffing color into the crease without disrupting the surrounding shadow. It is firm yet soft against the skin so you can create the perfect cut crease, sharp sculpting and seamless results with no shedding. You can also use it for precise concealer application.

I am very impressed with the craftsmanship of the #615 Buffer Brush ($52.00). The sleek design, soft fibers and rounded surface blends cream or liquid foundation flawlessly to camouflage trouble areas and smooth skin texture. I haven’t experienced any shedding and this is definitely a brush any Makeup Artist would be proud to have in their kit.

The Eye Color Refills are magnetized and sold individually for $8.00 each so you can purchase empty customizable palettes or the single palettes for $3.50. The shades I have are flattering on all complexions and ideal for creating a sultry smokey effect with both shimmer and matte finishes. The pigments are simple and pure so the colors apply exactly as they appear in the pan and go from sheer to medium pigmentation with some shades offering bold saturation. The silky texture is soft and slightly creamy for easy blending but I recommend a good primer to enhance vibrancy and longevity.

The shades featured above are: Smoked Sapphire (deep navy), Semisweet (mid tone brown), Pyramid (mild gold), Moss (sheer green) and Black which can also be used as a liner.

A good setting powder is essential for long lasting makeup, refined pores and the appearance of even skin so I also tested the Zero Loose Powder ($28.00). The finely-milled, formula is soft and ultra light to effectively set makeup and color without settling into lines or looking cakey. There are several tints available but this universal shade has no color and helps control shine so your face looks fresh and matte. It also helps correct minor textural flaws and makes skin feel silky.

MUD is now available at Sears locations in Fairview Mall, Erin Mills Town Center, Stone Road Mall, Oshawa Center Promenade, Maple View Center and online at

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Limited Edition Spring Fragrances by Mugler

Mugler is well known for Angel and Alien Eau De Parfum but this spring the brand has released new limited edition variations featuring delicate craftsmanship. These collectible keepsakes will become the focal point of your vanity or dresser and the dazzling concoctions feature fresh seasonal ingredients that awaken the senses.

Alien is my favorite Mugler perfume because the unique scent is like no other on the market. Usually fragrances have many familiar accords that are quickly distinguishable but this composition rises to a higher level of complexity. Alien Eau Sublime is a new interpretation of the original inspired by the Solar Goddess with energizing notes of mandarin, bitter orange and galbanum balanced with robust jasmine, tiare flower and heliotrope and a base of warm cashmeran wood and white amber. The traditional dark amethyst bottle has had a luminous makeover and now features white crystal and golden hues that coincide with the theme of well-being, sunshine and femininity. This fragrance smells very similar to the original with a lighter, sweeter aroma and perhaps a little more zest. Although it retains a powerful presence without fading much, it is still suitable for both day and evening wear. I hope the next set of products from Mugler showcase different scents instead of a reformulation because it would be nice to smell something completely new. The 60 ml bottle featured here retails for $82.00

A*Men Kryptomint is the male version of Angel. The notes smell similar – albeit more masculine and the cologne is strong, vibrant and revitalizing. The magnificent flask-like bottle features a mysterious crystal star embedded in a bright aqua bottle that seems to come from outer space. I wasn’t sure I'd like the mint but it is well blended with the other notes so you get an initial whiff before it gradually fades into the background discernible only by a hint of freshness. The other accords are Egyptian geranium and Indonesian patchouli for a stimulating intermingling of sweet, and ruggedness. The 100 ml Bottle retails for $99.00.

For those of you who like the Angel Eau De Parfum (original scent) the refillable collector star bottle (35 ml) is now available for $98.00. I love the multidimensional irregular points and when you sit it down the bottle tilts to one side like a stunning gem. I don't care much for this particular scent and much prefer the shooting star gourmand - Angel Eau Sucrée, to read that review click HERE.

These fragrances are available at Hudson's Bay, Sephora, Nordstrom, Shoppers Drug Mart, Jean Coutu and Murale.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...