By the time you read this, I will be in Budapest! Michele and I decided to make the most of one of those Ryanair sales (although in the end, I'm not sure our flights were any cheaper than they would be usually!) and after umming and ahhing about whether we'd be able to stand the cold, we bit the bullet and went for it - eek! I've been in two minds over whether to plan everything out or just go with the flow and see what happens. Currently, I've compromised by researching a fair bit and making a list of things I want to see, do and eat but stopping short of creating a detailed itinerary as I am usually do.
(I once read a quiz in Cosmopolitan about whether you should go on holiday with your friend or not and decided to answer it about myself instead. By virtue of my aptitude for turning everything into a strictly timetabled operation and classifying Anna Karenina as poolside reading, the gods at Cosmo advise you all to stay away from holidaying with me.)
As well as our trip to Budapest this month, we squeezed in 24 hours in Bologna to visit Martina and Andrea, two friends of ours from my year abroad. I met Martina on a website called Conversation Exchange (which is an absolute godsend for those moving to a new country - although if you're young and female, expect to be bombarded with requests from male language enthusiasts). We quickly became great friends and started having vegan dinner parties, thanks to her boyfriend Andrea's excellent cooking and ethical mindset. (And yes, Andrea is a guy's name in Italy - alongside Michele, Daniele, Simone... oh the confusion!)
We drove down from Milan, listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno on the way (which is the most hilarious and disturbing podcast I have ever come across). On arrival at Martina and Andrea's lovely (and rather Scandinavian!) apartment, they promptly informed us that they'd made lunch reservations at a little trattoria they'd been wanting to try out for ages.
(I tried to get a nice photo of them all, I really did try. See what I have to work with?!)
The restaurant was Trattoria da Vito, a favourite with the locals including an old Italian singer whom Andrea was rather excited about! It was only 2km from the apartment so we set off into the Bolognese morning and started to make our way towards our lunch, with stomachs already rumbling from the journey. Somehow, we managed to end up walking for a good 45 minutes and when Andrea began to lead us away from the city centre and towards residential streets, we began to question whether we were in the right place at all. But then there it was, a little unassuming trattoria tucked just around the corner.
Inside, it was everything you'd imagine an authentic Italian trattoria to be - white table cloths, red and white check napkins, daily specials written in chalk on the wall, wine by the litre and hundreds of people crammed around tightly packed tables, digging into traditional Emilia Romagna cuisine.
Which, by the way, basically means meat on meat with a side of meat. Nevertheless, they were incredibly accommodating and didn't bat an eyelid when Martina and I both asked for the tortelloni di magro con crema di zucca e radicchio (spinach and ricotta tortelloni with pumpkin cream and bitter radicchio) without the speck it was supposed to be served with. We ended up eating quite late as we had snuck in and sat down at our table without one of the waitresses seating us and so, after an agonising wait surrounded by all those wonderful aromas, we ended up having to get up and catch one of them to take our order, interrupting their busy hurrying to and from the kitchen.
Our food was worth the wait.
Handmade tortelloni with a sweet yet delicate pumpkin cream, punctuated by the bitter bite of radicchio. All finished off with a generous sprinkling of parmesan of course! We ended our meal with panna cotta (a little too dense for me but delicious nonetheless) and sat lazily around the table for a little while longer, drinking our way to the bottom of the carafe of red.
Eventually it was time to leave. We had, after all, made the journey down from Milan to see Bologna as well as Martina and Andrea! We wrapped up in scarves, coats and hats and made our way back outside into the fresh air, with plenty of fuel to see us through our afternoon city tour (and boy, do I have plenty of photos to share from that! Bologna is so beautiful!)
Good friends and good food - you just can't beat it!