We both love chocolate. Preferably dark, and if it has marzipan in the middle then, wow, we are in sweet-tooth heaven.
Imagine my delight then when I discovered there was a chocolate museum in Budapest run by Szamos, Hungary’s leading chocolatier and marzipan maestro.
As well as tons of chocolate and almond paste, it housed a replica of the Hungarian Parliament made entirely of marzipan.
I could scarcely breathe. Politics, chocolate and marzipan. All I needed was a shot of Royal Tokaji, Hungary’s famous dessert wine, and my life would be complete.
So it was with drooling anticipation that we sat down for a quick lunch before heading to see this marzipan masterpiece.
Luck would have it that we found ourselves, by accident rather than design, on the terrace of the cafe at Szamos’s flagship store in the heart of Budapest.
We ordered goulash soup and a spinach-stuffed pancake and sat back. Thirty minutes later, we decided the kitchen had had long enough to microwave our lunch and called the waitress over.
The look of horror on her face told us what we had started to suspect.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she said. The kitchen had not been given our order. There was no lunch coming, and it was now past three.
Picking up our damp RNLI ponchos – yes it had been raining – we headed to McDonalds for a quick filet-of-fish before heading down to the parliament, and the chocolate museum.
The Hungarian parliament is a sight to behold. It sits on the edge of the Danube, and looks like the shiny younger sister of our own parliament.
The Szamos chocolate museum is across the famous Kossuth Square, at number 10.
We passed through the very tastefully decorated cafe on the ground floor, climbed two sets of stairs and into a beautiful shop, packed full of chocolate and marzipan and half a dozen excited ten year old girls.
“We will buy some marzipan when we finish the tour,” I said, and just at that moment a smiling assistant appeared.
“Two tickets for the museum,” asked Nigel.
She looked sad. “Sorry it is closed,” she said.
“But you’re open until seven,” I pouted, pointing to the tantalising first display beyond the red silk rope (it is a very classy chocolate museum).
“Come tomorrow,” she smirked.
“We can’t, we will be in Slovakia,”
She shrugged. “We have a children’s party, you cannot come in,” was her devastating response.
She turned her attention back to the lucky group of six girls, one of whom’s parents must have paid for the exclusive use of this major tourist attraction.
We were disconsolate.
The famous Szamos cafe had spoiled our lunch.
Now the famous Szamos museum was refusing us entry to their museum. A museum that appeared to have more than enough room for six Hungarian girls and two chocolate-loving Brits.
We wandered back along the Danube, cheering ourselves up by buying some Tokaji wine in a supermarket.
I refused to buy any Szamos marzipan, choosing instead a cheaper brand, which turned out to be, well, cheap.
And on the way home to our campsite, I tripped over a piece of plastic string, chipped my iPhone and gashed my elbow.
To say nothing of losing my dignity in front of a crowd of Saturday night revellers, only slightly older than the girls who had denied us our chocolate treat.
On the bright side, I got to use my Aldi first aid kit for the first time.
And I found a few squares of Lidl’s dark chocolate with caramel in the fridge when we got home to the van.
Who needs a fancy chocolatier when you have Germany’s finest discount supermarket.
- We stayed at the excellent Camping Arena, the closest site to the centre of Budapest, and within easy reach of the metro station, a wide range shops (including an Aldi) and restaurants.
- Szamos has been making chocolate and marzipan delights since 1935. Even if you don’t get to the museum, or its flagship store on Vaci Street, it is worth picking up a bar or two from the supermarket. The cheaper brands just don’t cut it.
- Budapest is a magnificent city, with the Danube running through its heart. There is lots to see and do, just don’t count on getting to visit the chocolate museum ?
- Click on our Instagram page for pictures from our journey round the European Union