Budapest, Hungary

Budapest definitely has glorious parks and the best pastries this side of Vienna, but then there is also the music. Only a handful of opera houses can compare with the Neo Renaissance-styled Budapest Opera House.

Located in a very elegant neighbourhood, this 19th-century building was financed by Emperor Franz Joseph and, at that time, was the most magnificent, modern musical and ballet venue in Europe.

The stately facade features statues of some of the greatest omposers, like Mozart, Verdi and Beethoven. The red and gold foyer is filled with huge gilded chandeliers, fine art, frescoes, statues, tile flooring reminiscent of ancient Greek mosaics, and beautiful, grey marble columns.

Call me old fashioned, but I still think that attending an opera is a grand occasion. During intermission, the elegant restaurant overflows with a well-dressed crowd who has pre-arranged reservations for the buffet, so very civilized. Highly recommended is the March Budapest Spring Festival which features music for every taste, from jazz to gypsy to the classics.