Alternatives to Starbucks in Budapest
You book a trip to the beautiful city of Budapest. You decide that THIS is the trip where you finally get out of your comfort zone and speak some of the local language. You arrive in Budapest after learning some 'survival' Hungarian on the flight and take a walk to a nearby cafe. All of a sudden your mind goes blank and instead of asking for a kave (coffee), you instead mumble something incoherent and revert to pointing at the mug on the counter with accompanied "latte..err..please".
Sound familiar? Afterwards do you end up going to Starbucks or Costa instead? Its understandable, Hungarian isn't an easy language. I've been learning, badly, for the past 8 years and am still only at what I'd call beginner level. That's my fault rather than the language and if you do want to learn some Hungarian I can recommend the podcast produced by Steve and Gyorgyi called Lets Learn Hungarian . It's very funny and contains loads of useful vocabulary and phrases.
There is an alternative to this cafe language dilemma! Starbucks and Costa prices in Budapest are no cheaper than Melbourne (my home city), which when you consider the salary differences is just not right. It's also a shame to sit in a characterless cafe which really could be in any city, anywhere. I do like Costa but it's nice to try local places where possible. This alternative that my wife and I have found is Cserpes Tejivo (pronounced: chair-pesh tay-voh)
Cserpes Tejivo serves great Illy coffee and offers lots of traditional Hungarian sweets, pastries and snacks like turos bukta (sweet, cottage cheese filled pastry) and hot sandwiches - all at much lower prices than the big chain cafes. Cserpes have also started producing their own range of products that can be found in other cafes around Budapest. It really is a great cafe and according to my Hungarian wife and relatives, really stays true to traditional style Hungarian food (note, not goulash, just cafe food and beverages!).
Not speaking Hungarian also isn't a problem! In fact the last time I went there I was asking for everything in Hungarian but all the responses I got were in English - it was a bit bizarre but I guess they wanted to practice their English and I wanted to test out my Hungarian. Either way I ended up with a latte, ham and cheese hot sandwich and a turos bukta. Everything I asked for in fact.
If you go to Starbucks normally because the WiFi is excellent, you won't be disappointed. Everyone wants decent WiFi access when they sit down for a coffee and read the news on their phone or tablet. Yes, Cserpes also gets that right. The WiFi is fast and free so you should have no problems at all.
There are actually four Cserpes Tejivo cafes in Budapest now. I have been to two of them; At Deak Square, near Vaci Street and the one by Corvin Mozi. Both are fantastic.
So if you're planning a trip to Budapest or are already there, reading this from a Starbucks perhaps, I'd recommend to try Cserpes at least once and feel like less of a tourist whilst at the same time still being able to communicate with the staff. I should note that I am in no way affiliated with Cserpes Tejivo. I just like what they do:)
Have you been to Cserpes Tejivo before or since reading this? Let me know how it went.