In September this year (2016) I was lucky enough to go to Budapest to style a shoot for a destination wedding guide. It was a very intensive week of shooting all over the city, with a team from Spain, New Zealand, and Australia. We had early starts and some longer days, to make the most of the warm summer light. As with most shoots, there is never enough time to peruse for props, it’s really a never-ending task and in this case, I had one day to collect props and get some last minute plans sorted before we started shooting. I was lucky I was able to get everything we needed with the help of Google and a bit of on-the-spot creativity. I don’t feel shy about sharing how difficult this kind of work is, arriving in a foreign destination and working with a minimal tool kit is a challenge and a real test of your creativity and quick thinking, no matter how organised you are before hand.
We really covered a lot of ground around the city, one location where we shot a scene was The Brody Club. The very cool, urban decor and cocktail menu made it a great place for us to finish up one day after we wrapped shooting. We had spent a few hours there creating a scene with a latin dancer and all the groom’s party playing poker, drinking whiskey, and smoking cigars. It was a great atmosphere that created a very classy setting for the gents night out and it would have been a shame to miss out on sampling a cocktail or two.
I’ve discovered on my city trips that I’m always going to walk my feet off, as they say, so I took shoes I knew I could walk miles in for this journey. My Samsonite luggage was perfect to haul all the props around to our many locations. It’s worth investing in quality luggage, as it’s so durable and the wheels are so light to push around all day. My tip for anyone visiting is to make sure you get a local SIM card on arrival so you’re able to use Google Maps – these days it saves so much time if you can use the internet to get around a foreign place, or search for places to eat or ways to get from A to B etc. It blows my mind how easy it is. One great tip our Air BnB host gave us was downloading the local taxi app so you didn’t have to try and pronounce the more difficult Hungarian street names, you could order a taxi by GPS location with the FOTO taxi app.
Photo Credit: Bear Dear Fox
One of the things I love about travelling is when I get time to soak up the culture and the energy of a place. I enjoyed all the walking we did and discovering all of the untouched charm that this city has. Budapest is one of the poorer European countries but I loved it for its architecture and it certainly had a very youthful, vibrant undertone. It’s a bit more edgy than other cities I’ve visited and it’s not as obvious as Paris in my opinion. One of my favourite moments was speed boating down the Danube. It was so cooling with the wind blowing and it was a rare moment to take in the sights. If you have time when you’re there, splash out on the Dunarama speed boat for the Danube. You won’t regret it.
I didn’t have a lot of time to myself on this trip, but I enjoyed talking with Thomas, who was one of our neighbours in the apartment building where we stayed. Thomas, a music teacher in the city, loved talking to me to practice his English and tell me about his daughter. She was in Australia and for some reason I think he thought I should know her because I am in New Zealand. Funny enough, I seemed to always meet him on the stairs when I went in or out, and on the last day I had a longer talk to him about living in New Zealand, and he asked me a few times if I knew his daughter.
A culinary highlight was the ‘Blind Date’ menu at the Four Seasons. It was amazing and showcased all the local delicacies in one 7-course degustation. The chef chooses the entire menu and creates dishes from ingredients that day, so each dish is a surprise as it arrives. We did the wine match too and that was an array of local and international wines, but all a surprise until they arrive. It was so much fun for me as I love food.
If I get the chance, I’d love to pass through Budapest again because it’s a city that feels like it’s going places as it grows out of its old shell in its own unique way. It has an old world charm which I guess reflects its 1000 year history and the beauty of the River Danube really make it.