Travel Learning: One Drink at a Time

Bench CafeI love to travel and I have made visiting new communities, cities and countries a priority for my paycheck. I’m lucky to have been able to travel across Canada, parts of Europe and now live in Budapest. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I love experiencing a new landscape, culture and language. There’s nothing better than getting a taste of a new town. Literally. Culinary tourism may now be an overused term, but it’s the way to my heart.

My most standard menu is to indulge my over-active sweet tooth. However, I also have a romanticized version of cafe-culture and a daily caffeine addiction that must be fed. So, by blog recommendation or foot traffic testament, I like to try out coffee shops. I’m no connoisseur and I’m not hip enough for most barista bars, but I have found one way to simplify and enjoyably explore Budapest cafes:

One Drink at a Time

In a world with almost unlimited choices, it can be overwhelming to compare and contrast your experiences. It can be a struggle to navigate foreign language menus. It can be intimidating to keep up with new city’s pace or protocol.

As always, my advice is to keep it simple. Don’t try to taste every caffeinated variation a city has to offer. And give up trying to order the drink that will make the local hipster barista’s scowl mellow momentarily. Pick One Drink that a)  you enjoy and b) is probably found in most cafes.

My One Drink is a cappuccino. Usually single shot, though often that’s not even asked. (Or if it is, I smile unknowingly and say “köszönöm”.) I’m never scrambling to make a decision. I know about how much cash to have ready. And I know I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy what I get. Here are some of the cappuccino’s I’ve enjoyed so far:

Budapest Barista's CappFekete cappMadal Cafe Cappuccino Fescke presszó cappSkål Coffee capp

Click the photo for the cafe.

Now, I’m not writing this to encourage you to stop trying local fare. If you’re traveling, you’re making a hundred decisions in a day, and I am assuming that many of them will be to try the local option. Perhaps your One Drink is a local one. The idea of One Drink at a Time is to reduce that decision-load by one. And to have a means to compare your experience across many stops. You can reflect on this constant while seeing what about the rest of the experience is different – the decor, the staff, the patrons, the pastries (if you’re lucky).

As for my tasting notes, I won’t give you a full run-down but I will say that my two top capp’s here in Budapest* are found at:

* to be fair, in Pest. And even fairer, within a 20 minute walk of our flat.

I’ve enjoyed taking on Budapest One Drink at a Time. I’ve applied this concept also to my wines – the classic Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve had a sumptuous glass and a bitter one (though, for $1 a glass, I could have expected as much, perhaps).

Do you already have your One Drink? If not, what would it be and where?