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Mihaela Lica Butler

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Mihaela Lica-Butler is travel writer and travel public relations consultant by profession, lover of cultures and cuisine. She has built a fun career while chiming in on many topics, from relating the trials and tribulations of the people of Kosovo, to experiencing, first hand, the heroics of the Romanian soldiers serving for the UN. But she thrives in conveying her love for travel and places in written word, and she is happy to be a constant contributor for some of the world's best travel sites.

La Rotisserie seating

A Gem of Budapest: La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge

A new world opened as our mystery guest stepped onto the patio of La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, which is, according to local media and residents, one of the most beautiful terraces in Budapest. And they are not wrong. Time stands still here, in a silent intensity, you find yourself captivated, under the magic spell of a relaxing urban garden. For you are the mystery guest. Welcome to a different hospitality experience. Prepare to enjoy the finest local dishes, the freshest local, and organic, ingredients, and the friendliest atmosphere in this magic city.

We’ve got it: you are a foodie. But, you are, probably, not alone. You are here to share the time of your life with someone special, and we will do anything we can to make your time with us as memorable as you imagined it. This is, after all, award-winning Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest.

It could still be summer: the patio is green and cheerful. Guests come, and go, but you can linger for hours, in candlelight, under the stars, savoring signature dishes inspired by both Hungarian and French traditions.

But then, the weather may not always be on your side, so La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge is a haven of sorts, even when the elements are hostile. If you arrive too early, that “hear-a-pin-drop” silence may put you off, but patience, dear mystery guest: the energetic staff will appear in no time, with just the right culinary suggestions to take away your blues.

La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge

Imagine indulging in a Barbary duck breast with Rougié duck liver, chili Beluga lens ragout and gingery green apple, arriving at your table looking pretty much as sensual as a Charles Willmott painting. Now, that’s perfection, as some celebrity chef somewhere would say in front of the cameras. But, maybe, just maybe, you want something with local flavors? A “Chef menu,” one of the two you can choose from, paired with the right sommelier recommendations, will do the trick. In other words, precious mystery guest, no matter the season, we will overindulge you, for sure.

Moscow’s Darling for Lovers: MEAT & MORE Restaurant

So, dear  mystery guest, you are now in Moscow, probably staying at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka. Good for you! Did you know that this fine luxury establishment hosts the 11th Spa by Algotherm in existence? Yes, the hotel redefines pampering in all its forms. You can expect the same treatment from MEAT & MORE Restaurant, the jewel in our crown.

MEAT & MORE is the perfect setting for a date, for a wedding, and, why not, even for a psychedelic evening. Just look around you: the interior is so fresh, innovative, and unexpected, that it can transfigure into any theme you may choose. A wedding? We are a favorite partner of the Wedding Magazine, and many couples pick MEAT & MORE for a lively party, after they tie the knot.

The cuisine is refined and sophisticated, just like the interior decor by Anton Gorlanov. This is the only restaurant in the Mamaison collection to welcome you 24 hours a day, every day. When hunger strikes, just step inside the restaurant, and the staff will make you feel like a VIP, every time.

MEAT&MORE

If your question is “How happy can a steak make a man?”  then the answer from MEAT & MORE is “elated.” Steaks pass as simple meals, but not when they are prepared with the best meat cuts available on the market, and refined with signature gravies, and sides that put the world’s most famous restaurants to shame.

Not a “meat” fan? Well, there’s always the “more,” which stands for creative chef dishes, melt-in-your-mouth desserts, soups, salads, and internationally-inspired mains that change seasonally.

Timeless Elegance, and Cuisine by Paweł Oszczyk: La Rotisserie Restaurant, Warsaw

This imperial space is the reason why many local residents visit Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw time after time, every week. Everything you see, touch, or eat in this urban eatery is the best. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to indulge in the finest gourmet creations available in Warsaw.

The “grand” experience is open to all foodies, always changing, innovative, and fresh. The restaurant is as romantic, as it is family friendly. It is as suitable for business lunches, as it is for exclusive parties. And the terrace: is a sanctuary.

La Rotisserie interior

This is where you will find Chef Paweł Oszczyk, recently designated the Polish Chef de l’Avenir 2014, a prestigious award by the International Academy of Gastronomy, which recognizes culinary excellence. No wonder that the local food bloggers rave about the cuisine, and if you consider that the wines are hand-picked by Andrew Strzelczyk, the Polish Champion Sommelier in both 2012 and 2013, you’ll soon be convinced that only a few other selected restaurants in Warsaw come close to what La Rotisserie has to offer.

In other words, if you are looking for the ideal place to satisfy your passion for gourmet foods, this is it. Every other dish is more of a treat than the first, and every glass of wine is godliness.

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Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw

A charming European destination, Warsaw is as interesting in Winter, as it is in Spring, or any other season. With activities and attractions for every budget, this is the perfect cityscape, any time of the year. To enjoy a great time as a couple, or as a family, take advantage of our Winter Early Bird discounts, and save 20% at Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw or Mamaison Residence Diana. For those of you planning a trip to Warsaw this season, here’s what we recommend.

diana

First, have a blast at the Winter Town at the National Stadium. This is the second edition of a festival of sorts, that brings you 3 spectacular ice rinks, an ice hill with a slide and pontoons, and even an ice bar. Of course, there are many other exciting attractions: shows on ice “Kings on Ice” and “Xtreme Ice Show,” but also a disco skating rink and toddler activities every morning.

National Winter

Escape the gloomy days with a visit at the Wilanow Palace, and lose yourself inside the Labyrinth of Light, a light art installation covering over 1000 m², in the garden at the Orangery. This year, the theme is Alice in Wonderland – and the labyrinth offers attractions for young and old. 2015 marks the third and last year when the Labyrinth of Light art installation can be seen by visitors at the Wilanow Palace. You have time till March 15, 2015 to see it. The Royal Garden of Light is open every day from 09:00 till 16:00 – tickets are affordable and grant you access to other attractions at the palace, including the Labyrinth of Light, Garden of Imagination, and the Golden Courtyard.

light

Labyrinth of Light, photo by Marcin Mastykarz

Till February 15, 2015, you can still visit the largest Lego exhibition in Poland, which is on display at the National Stadium. On display, a 11-metre-long Titanic model, built with more than 500,000 Lego bricks; the new LEGO – Volvo excavator; the mock-up of the Simpsons family house in Springfield; Lego renditions of cars of the Polish communist regime era; and much more.

lego expo

Don’t forget to like Mamaison Hotels and Residences on Facebook for even more exciting travel news and updates from Warsaw, and for special offers from our hotels and restaurants.

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2015 - Happy New Year

2014 was an amazing year, a year of joy for the Mamaison family, which is now part of the CPI Hotels group, one of the major hotel groups in the Czech Republic. We’ve received tremendous accolades from travelers just like you, and from the media, we had unique events to celebrate our guests in Mamaison hotels in six European destinations (Prague, Ostrava, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Moscow). We also launched this special blog, to bring you travel news from Mamaison destinations.

In this spirit, we are now recommending things to do in Budapest in the first days of 2015. We will follow up with news from all our destinations, to help you plan a great start in the new year.

Budapest

Budapest enters in the new year with style and class, first celebrating with music, in a variety of venues all around the city. Check out the schedules at the Budapest Palace of Arts (Béla Bartók National Concert Hall), the Hungarian State Opera, the Budapest Congress Center or at the Papp László Sport Arena. New Year’s concerts are also held in churches and basilicas. The programmes are varied, satisfying a variety of musical preferences: you can listen to classical music, choir, opera and more.

The Carnival Season in Hungary, called Farsang, kicks of January 6, and lasts till March 5, 2015. As every year, several venues around the country, and in Budapest, will organize events to celebrate this important religious festival. Among the most interesting events to attend during these days, mark in your calendar the Budapest International Circus Festival (January 9-13);a retro-themed carnival celebration called Symbál, on February 8; a Baroque costume party at the Museum of Fine Arts on February 15 (tickets include a late night visit of the “Caravaggio to Canaletto”); the carnival at Vajdahunyad Castle on March 1st; and the Fat Thursday, featuring great food at low prices, in over 500 fine dining venues around Budapest, including the best of all, our own La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy.

Fővárosi Nagycirkusz

Speaking of good food, do not miss the Mangalica Festival, taking place February 6-8; an event that pays homage to the pure Hungarian heritage breed of pig “mangalica.” Traditional dishes prepared with mangalica pork meat include sausages and salami. After this festival, Budapest celebrates gastronomy with another fun festival: the Budapest Fish Festival (February 13-16). Here, taste the local fishermen’s soup, made with freshwater fish, or try the local wine and pálinka.

mangalica fesztival

We wish you a happy start in the new year, and thank you for choosing Mamaison Hotels and Residences, as individual as you!

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    Christmas woman with stars

    There’s no other season more celebrated around the world than Winter, especially in December, when a great part of the world dresses up in Christmas lights, and cheers for the birth of Christ, the Savior. This is the season to give, to share positive feelings and thoughts, to help each-other, to rekindle broken relationships with family and friends, to forgive, and finally, to remember the values that truly matter, those values that make the essence of humanity, and make us whole.

    Christmas cheer.

    Mamaison Hotels and Residences have prepared a variety of packages to make your winter truly magical this year. First, the Winter Early Bird Breaks offer you 20% off when you book at least 30 days prior to arrival, and you stay in any Mamaison hotel that participates in this offer at least two nights, for a travel window starting with December 2, 2014 and ending March 31, 2015.

    If you cannot book 30 day prior your arrival to the Mamaison hotel of your choice, you can still save 15% if you stay at least two nights, during the same travel window as above, with the second special offer: Winter Treats.

    mamaison winter

    More than mere places to spend the night after a day of exploring your favorite destinations, Mamaison Hotels and Residences are also places where you can get pampered, and where you can experience authentic local hospitality and cuisine. This is true at Christmas too, when you can dine in some of Mamaison’s classiest restaurants: Meat & More at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow; La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest; and at Restaurant Legend at Mamaison Business & Conference Hotel Imperial Ostrava.

    At Meat & More in Moscow, you and your party will enjoy exquisite menus, featuring tuna fillet in sesame seeds, ravioli with ricotta cheese, duck breast with carrot puree and more. The set price for the festive menu, which will be available from 18:00 on December 31, 2014, is 2,900 RUB. You can enjoy this offer regardless if you are a guest of the hotel or not. So plan a festive evening in Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka Moscow’s fine restaurant. If you want to enjoy Christmas dinner at Meat & More, you will need to order in advance. For this special holiday, the restaurant offers a whole roasted turkey with apple stuffing served with seasonal vegetables and fruit (4 kg) for 5900 RUB. Pre-order at least 5 days in advance, at +7 495 229-57-57.

    Christmas Turkey In Wooden Tray

    La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, one of the finest restaurants in Budapest, the jewel of Mamaison Hotel Andrassy, serves creative European cuisine drawing upon French and Hungarian traditions. Their Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus this year will reflect their strengths, giving you a truly gourmet dining experience, at exceptional prices. The Christmas Menu will be available from December 20, to December 28, 2014, featuring: duck liver pudding with quince, piemont hazelnut and gold raisin; fish velouté with orange, marinated milt and in air bag baked pike-perch; veal ossobucco rilette; venison loin á la Stroganoff style with Annabelle potato and cornichon; crispy black cod fish fillet with chestnut, bergamia oiled quail egg and mushrooms; and homemade gerbeaud with pecan, elderberry jam and ras el hanout ice cream. The New Year menu, equally rewarding, features even more delicious treats, only available that special evening. See La Perle Noire’s menu page for prices.

    In Ostrava, restaurant Legend pays tribute to the traditional Czech cuisine. You will feel the authentic Czech Christmas atmosphere on Dcember 24, and 25, when the chef prepares a unique, special menu, full of surprises. January 1, 2015, is dedicated to celebrating the New Year, with a fresh menu, drawing upon the same Czech culinary traditions.

    Floating candles

    Last, but not least, is you want to spend time this season in Budapest, Mamaison Hotels & Residences have partnered with Inter Relocation to offer you the chance to win a luxury two-night stay at our Hotel Andrassy, including breakfast and a voucher for a fantastic dinner at La Perle Noire Restaurant, with a second prize of a voucher for dinner for two at La Perle Noire Restaurant. Simply enter by answering the following two simple questions and sending your answers via email to info@interrelo.com

    1. How large (in square meters) is the “Deluxe King with Bath” room type at the Mamaison Hotel Andrássy?
    2. In what year was Inter Relocation founded?

    We wish you a wonderful Christmas season, and a Happy New Year!

    Chopin Museum

    Warsaw is advertised as the city of Chopin, because the great Polish composer Frédéric François Chopin was born and raised here. His musical genius drew inspiration for many of his early works from the life pulsing on these historic streets, and from the beautiful nature of the local parks.

    “The muse of his homeland dictates his songs, and the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry which, for all those who have truly experienced it, cannot be compared to anything else,” said Franz Liszt once, referring to Chopin.

    Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki - Fotolia.com

    Fryderyk Chopin Statue in Warsaw © Artur Bogacki – Fotolia.com

    In fact, Chopin loved the cradle of his youth so much, he requested his heart be removed after death and returned to his beloved Warsaw. So if you want to tour Chopin’s Warsaw, you only need to follow his heart.

    Walk down Krakowskie Przedmieście, to find the Church of the Holy Cross, where the heart of the composer rests in an urn immured in a pillar. This remarkable church, one of the most visited landmarks of the city, was built between 1679 and 1757, and was a collaborative effort, involving the creative genius of several architects and artists, including Józef Szymon Bellotti, the royal architect at the Royal Court of Poland, for the main building; as well as Józef and Jakub Fontana for the towers and the facade. But nothing of the original works remains: the church was blown up by the Germans in 1945. What you see today is the work of architect B. Zborowski. Luckily, the urn containing the heart of the composer was removed during the Warsaw Uprising (1944) by the Germans, who gave it to Bishop Antoni Szlagowski. Only on October 17, 1945 the heart was returned to the church, during a ceremony that celebrated 96 years since Chopin’s death.

    Holy Cross Church Warsaw © stavrida - Fotolia.com

    It’s easy to see Chopin’s Warsaw like a tourist: the city celebrates its most beloved son with pride and joy, and promotes all the significant landmarks that were touched by the composer, one way or another. The official route suggested by the City of Warsaw was inaugurated in connection with the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010. When you follow the route, you will find several multimedia benches, which have an interactive sound system that will play Chopin’s music. There are 15 spots where you can rest on one of Chopin’s Benches, all connected with landmarks that played an important role in the life of the composer.

    For instance, at Radziwiłł Palace, where Chopin performed for the first time in public, the bench will play RONDO in C minor, Op.1; 32”. At the Holy Cross Church, you will listen to the MEMORIAL MARCH from SONATA in B minor, Op.35; 45”; while the bench on Miodowa Street will play MAZUREK in A minor, Op.68; 34”. This is the street where you will find Honoratka, the only venue from Chopin’s time that still stands in its original form.

    Honoratka

    The composer used to dine and meet with his contemporaries often in the restaurant, back then called Kawiarni Honoratka. Today’s Honoratka is a place to discover traditional Polish cuisine, accompanied by the music of the master. Almost everything here is designed as an homage to Chopin: you will feel his presence, an uplifting experience, enhanced by cultural and artistic events and exhibits. And, of course, there’s even a Chopin menu.

    Another uplifting experience on the itinerary is the Łazienki Królewskie Park, where, in the heat of July, August and September, every Sunday, from noon to 16:00 there are free Chopin piano concerts performed outdoors at the foot of the Chopin Monument, one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

    Łazienki Królewskie Park © aarstudio - Fotolia.com

    The park used to be a playground for young Fryderyk and the son of the Prince. The gardens surrounding the various royal buildings are among the most beautiful in the city, and are popular for tourists and residents alike, not only for their outstanding landscape, but also for the events held here. Besides Sunday Chopin concerts, from June to September you can also appreciate performances by the Horse Quadrilles, which are staged on each first sunday of the month at 12:00.

    Łazienki Królewskie Park is the site of the Royal Residence of King Stanisław August, today a prestigious museum, showcasing the Royal collections of paintings, sculptures, numismatics, and graphics, as well as temporary exhibitions on various themes.

    No other landmark on the Chopin itinerary is as authentic as Salonik Chopinów, a small part of the flat where the composer spent his last years before leaving Poland. The flat, the only one belonging to the composer, which is still open to the general public, can be found inside Pałac Czapskich, formerly Pałac Krasińskich, and currently the Academy of Fine Arts. The apartment, however, doesn’t feature original furnishings, which were destroyed or lost during the World War II. Instead, the beautiful drawing salon was recreated in 1960 based on drawings by Antoni Kolberg.

    If these landmarks are not enough to tame your thirst for knowledge, step inside Pałac Ostrogskich for the largest collection in the world of memorabilia and documents related to Chopin. One of his original pianos is still preserved here, together with manuscripts of his works, letters, notes, photographs, personal items, and much more. Unlike most museums celebrating the life and work of a local hero, the Fryderyk Chopin Museum is the most modern biographical museum in Europe. The experience is direct, hands-on, designed to satisfy curiosity and interest in visitors of all ages. 15 different rooms inside the palace are each a different “mini-museum” dedicated to the great composer.

    This tour that celebrates Chopin will bring the purest of the local spirit closer to your heart. This is a kind of experience that completes your understanding of Varsovian tradition in unusual and unexpected ways, in tune, if you will, and perfect harmony: the kind of experience that redefines the purpose of travel, enriching your soul.

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    Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair

    Budapest loves its Christmas traditions, and its festive fairs are as popular as any similar activity in the neighboring countries. In places like Vienna, Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, Basel, and so on, Christmas markets attract thousands of tourists. This is the case for the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square in the heart of Budapest, a traditional event since 1998. But this is not the only fair to enjoy the Christmas spirit in town.

    Like everywhere else in Europe, Budapest opens its Christkindlmarkts four weeks before Christmas, and just like everywhere else, they bring in front of the public a wealth of local traditions, arts and crafts, music and carols, and, of course, sweet and savory treats specific to the season.

    The Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, as already mentioned, is the most popular of all. Here is where all the tourists mingle, and it is hard to spot a local in the crowds. It is a picture-pretty setting, with spectacular lights, and scent of mulled wine in the air, a place to party, as well as a place to find handmade gifts and artisan Christmas art, all authentic, and made in Hungary. If you let your imagination free, you’ll feel like a fairy tale character in front of the beautiful Café Gerbeaud, watching the light painting shows, and listening to the choirs.

    Vorosmarty

    Right in front of the beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica you will find Budapest’s second most popular Christmas Market. This is a young tradition, dating only from 2011, but equally interesting for travelers, due to its location. For those who are looking for high quality traditional crafts, this is perhaps a better destination than the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, because members of the National Association of Folk Artists are selling their creations here. It shall be easy for you to visit both Christmas fairs, as they are located within walking distance from each other.

    St. Stephen's Basilica

    WAMP is a monthly design market in Budapest, which changes locations, to make accessible to the public in different districts of the city works by Hungarian designers. Most Autumn-Winter fairs are usually taking place at Millenáris Park (Kis Rókus utca 16-20), but it is better to check their website for concrete schedule and locations.

    WAMP

    The Design Terminal (Erzsébet tér 13) has a Christmas Market too. Almost one hundred Hungarian designers participate, with unique art objects, clothes, jewelry, and more. Don’t miss it.

    In front of the postcard-pretty Vajdahunyad Castle you will find another fairy-tale-like setting for a Christmas market, not far from the ice rink. You can listen to live concerts, performed on the open stage at the Gothic building, you can sip mulled wine, and sure, you can also buy artisan goods created by local craftsmen and contemporary artists. If you are not in the mood for a Christmas fair, you can always just drop by to skate.

    Skating Rink by Vajdahunyad Castle

    Skating Rink by Vajdahunyad Castle (Image via Wikipedia)

    A lesser known market is the Advent Fair in Obuda (Old Buda – Fő tér). It is scenic and small, and perfect for travelers who like to enjoy the city off the beaten path. This is where many locals like to shop, chat, and linger with a cup of mulled wine. The market is equally entertaining for kids, who can enjoy petting animals in a small petting stable, or skate on the artificial ice rink. Entertainment is rich and varied for such a small fair: puppet theater, live concerts, dance shows, and more.

    Last, but not least, the Bakats Square Christmas Market is as non-touristy as the Advent Fair in Obuda. It is only 10 minutes from the city center, in the 9th district of Budapest, Ferencváros. One of the main attractions at this fair is The Parish Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which was built by Miklós Ybl in French Roman style. This is where the locals come to attend the Advent mass, or just to hear the choirs singing. The Bakats Square Christmas Market is a must for its authentic spirit, and small town atmosphere.

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    mamaison winter

    December shines with a million lights, but when January creeps in, and the New Year begins, the lights are dimmed, and the magic is gone for those who don’t know where to find it. For guests at any Mamaison Hotel, the Winter is just like a fairytale, because every stay with us begins with “once upon a time.”

    More than preparing a palatial stay surrounded by elegant luxury at any Mamaison Hotel of your choice, we will write a fairytale with you, and for you. To make your stay even more rewarding, we have prepared several special offers for you, including our Winter Treats deal, which saves you 15% off our best rates, for a city break of 2 nights or more. This offer is available for a travel window between December 2, 2014 to the last day of March 2015.

    Besides the Winter Treats offer, we are preparing two other specials for you this season:

    • Winter Early Bird: December 2, 2014 – March 30, 2015 – with a special discount of 20%, for a stay of 2 nights or longer, bookable more than 30 days in advance
    • New Year’s Eve: 15% off for the travel window December 27, 2014 – January 5, 2015, again valid for a minimum stay of 2 nights.

    All offers come with special perks and seasonal surprises. Please bookmark our blog and subscribe to our newsletter to receive information about other offers designed to cheer you up this season.

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    St. Stephen's Basilica

    Staring down at the ebony ribbon of water, seemingly endless to the horizon, two lovers stand entranced by ten thousand dancing lights. Transfixed as statues, looking out over the ever present Danube, the sight of couples on the Chain Bridge in the evening reveals just why Budapest is for lovers, and for magic moments, especially at Christmas, when the city shines even brighter, under the spell of the stars.

    Budapest in winter

    Budapest in winter. (Image © Horváth Botond – on Fotolia.com)

    More than a city blessed by the stars, Budapest is a city that knows how to celebrate light. This year Christmas will be cheerier than ever, with a wealth of activities all over the town, Christmas fairs and festivals that last from late November, till January next year.

    Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair

    Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair in Budapest, Hungary (Image © Annto – Fotolia.com)

    The Budapest Christmas Market at Vörösmarty tér is the most popular among the Christmas fairs in the city. Like most events this season, it kicks off November 28, 2014, and lasts till January 5, 2015. There are over 100 stands selling seasonal arts and crafts, souvenirs, toys, and Christmas culinary delights: lángos, kürtöskalács, töki pompos, and mulled wine. On the facade of the landmark Gerbeaud building the city exhibits a giant Advent calendar, which adds to the cheery atmosphere, as every day from December 1st and 23rd the calendar opens a new window, revealing the surprise hidden behind, with a spectacular show of lights and sound. While adults enjoy wine and chit-chat, kids can join in activities designed just for them: artisan hands-on classes, puppet shows, children’s concerts, and more.

    Opening on the same date as the Budapest Christmas Market at Vörösmarty tér, the Christmas Fair by the Basilica is an equally enticing event that attracts thousands of tourists to the Hungarian capital. The ice rink at the heart of the Szent István tér is surrounded by arts and crafts stands, but also by food and drink vendors. You can come ice skating, or just come to buy something authentic to take a bit of Hungary back home with you. Don’t miss the seasonal culinary treats. The fair closes January 1, 2015.

    Marzipan stall on Christmas
    A newer festival, the Advent in Budapest takes place in Városháza Park between November 28, 2014 – January 5, 2015. Its purpose is well served: given the popularity of the two aforementioned fairs, this event aims to add a plus of cheer with cultural programmes for all ages. Live entertainment, including theater, concerts, workshops and Christmas-themed performances are scheduled daily.

    Last, but not least, don’t miss the WAMP Christmas Design and Gastro Fair on December 7, 2014, at Millenáris (Building B). This is a place to buy one-of-a-kind designer Christmas gifts, clothes and accessories, as well as fine Christmas treats: chocolates, truffles, cookies, jams, wines, spirits, and much more.

    From the cafes and bars along the promenade, to out of the way nooks and crannies, and finally amidst the rollicking nightlife of the notorious 7th District, Budapest will be dressed in light, to entice you to celebrate with the locals. Forget your worries for a while, and enjoy the power of the season: Christmas brings out the best in people.

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    Gingebread crib at Saint Matthew, Prague

    Christmas is a spectacular sight in Prague. Magnificent architecture gets dressed in a lace of shining lights; hundreds of Christmas trees sprout from nowhere lining up the imperial arteries, and even pedestrian alleys and markets; department-store window displays remind of the land of fairies and elves; and many other holiday attractions pop up around the city, spreading contagious cheer among locals and visitors.

    Christmas in Prague

    Christmas in Prague © Kajano, on Fotolia.com

    It’s a season of joy and excitement, a time when age barriers fall, and the city becomes a huge playground for all. Even onlookers who don’t believe in Santa Claus find themselves looking up at the skies gazing to see the magic sleight and its reindeers.

    You are greeted by colorful Christmas decorations at every step: some avantgarde, and using the latest technologies to woo and enthrall you; some artsy and chic, designed exclusively to make you want for more Christmas art; and finally, some traditional, to remind you of the local values, and the cultural past that shaped this holiday.

    From the lobbies of Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace, Mamaison Hotel Riverside, and Mamaison Residence Belgicka, all decorated in the spirit of the season, as you step out you can live your own Christmas story.

    Karlov Bridge in Prague

    Karlov Bridge in Prague © Sergii Figurnyi on Fotolia.com

    First time visitors to the city must never miss the jolly atmosphere of the main Christmas markets of Prague, where tourists and residents alike spend hours munching on gingerbread cookies and Trdelník, or destroy their healthy diets with a fatty piece of ham and one sip too many from the local svařák wine, which perfumes the air with aromas of cinnamon and star anise.

    If you want to avoid the crowds gathered around at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, where Prague’s largest Christmas markets display all kinds of Christmas goods for sale, walk to Havelská Market, the city centre’s permanent market, where you can shop like the locals, without needing to pay a season premium on your purchase, and the local Trdelník is as tasty as anywhere else too.

    Prague Christmas

    Prague Christmas © holublu6 on Fotolia.com

    Still, the true spirit of the Czech Christmas is better emphasized by the events organized at Toulcův Court in Prague – Hostivař. Here, the court and Baroque stables fill with almost a hundred craftsmen and retailers of traditional goods and old Czech snacks. Folklore and theater revive past traditions, Christmas nativity scenes, and local fairy tales. This is the place to learn how to make Christmas candles, greeting cards, decorations and even sweets. In other words, Toulcův Court is the ideal address to live an authentic Prague Christmas story, in an environment that educates and entertains.

    Gingebread crib at Saint Matthew, Prague

    Gingebread crib at Saint Matthew, Prague © PHB.cz on Fotolia.com

    Then, buzzing restaurants, boutiques and nightlife will draw you in with even more surprises: special dishes, Christmas cocktails, sales, and amazing offers you cannot refuse. For restaurants, make sure you make a reservation way ahead, because this is the season when the locals take to the city’s eateries by thousands, all so jolly and merry, celebrating every opportunity with passion and joie de vivre.

    Finally, when your spirit needs music to “wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” as Berthold Auerbach once said, you’ll find the heart of Prague beating in tune with God. Her beautiful churches, and even the Municipal House, open large doors, inviting the public to attend classical advent concerts and traditional Christmas carols. You’ll rarely need a programme to know what’s on: there’s always something going on during this season.

    Semaine des saveurs françaises

    It’s an exciting time in Budapest for lovers of French cuisine. The “Semaine des saveurs françaises” (Week of French Flavors) is on, and La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest participates with an outstanding menu this weekend. The event takes place from 14 to 20 November, giving you the occasion to enjoy a variety of French gastronomic products, at different participating venues around Budapest, and at the French Embassy.

    There will be several events organized by the Embassy of France and its partners in Budapest. On November 14 and 15, at the Market Hall (Budapesti Vásárcsarnokban) you can sample and buy a variety of French quality products: French dishes, wines and spirits, bakery products and pastries, cheeses and hams, meats and pates. French products will be showcased during this period in several supermarkets in Budapest.

    Chefs David Rathgeber, Alain Caron, Patrick Jeffroy and Chris Salans come to Budapest to offer cookery classes and workshops, as well as to demonstrate their culinary skills during gala dinners.

    The event culminates on November 20 with the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau, a red wine made from Gamay grapes, the most popular vin de primeur, which is celebrated all over France the third Thursday of November.

    To celebrate the Semaine des saveurs françaises, the head chef at La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge will prepare a special tasting menu, which is available only today and tomorrow.

    Make your table reservation at:
    Tel. +36 1 555 1545
    E-mail: restaurant@laperlenoire.hu
    http://laperlenoire.hu/en