So after 9 months in Germany I climbed onto a train for my first inter-European travel. It has been a while since I satisfied my inherited urge to travel, so I was looking forward to it! Budapest, Hungary my destination. My uncle always used to tell stories about his time in Budapest, the Goulash and the music! So when my cousin suggested Budapest as a mini family trip together with my aunt I agreed very quickly, and I was not disappointed!
What a city! A combination of soviet relics – thundering street-cars and buses, old, slightly dilapidated buildings and an openness of people that warmed my heart. Language was a bit of a challenge – Hungarian – one of the worlds most difficult languages to learn, is not easy! English and German menu’s however are widely available and pointing to the dish you want to be served is easier than trying to decipher the local language. The other funny thing was the currency – HUF’s, FT’s or Pfffttts… 😉 – whichever you decide to call it. HUF’s gets calculated in 100’s and 1000’s – a thousand HUF’s works out to be around 3 Euro’s. Travelling with 2 Namibians, you end up dividing to get the Euro amount and then multiplying it by 17 to get the Rand / Namibian Dollar value as well! Very confusing! My head was really spinning towards the end of the trip! 😀
My Favourite things of the city –
- The History! The city is filled with really old buildings, you breathe the history. There is a reverence of time, walking the streets surrounded by stories long forgotten. The Magyar – the real name for the Hungarians, are a proud people, proud of their history and not afraid to tell you their story. The good and the bad.
- The food! Oh my word, the FOOD! We visited a couple of different restaurants and coffee shops and got the full experience and range of what Budapest Cuisine has to offer! Some were European priced – i.e. similar as in Germany. Some were ridiculously cheap! We ended up having a 3 course meal for 8 Euros per person… and the food was delicious! Besides for the taste-buds, there are the beautiful architecture and interiors as well – a feast for the eyes. At some places you feel like dining with Kings or Queens of old! Here are 3 places I would most definitely recommend – Remember to go hungry!
- La Cantine (Andrassy Avenue)
- Strudelhause – Elsö Pesti Reteshaz
- Ruszwurm – The oldest pastry Cafe in Budapest
- The castles and the castle-like buildings! First there is the Palace on the Buda side of the Danube, built on the ruins of a middle age castle where emperors and Queens roamed the halls. Now the restored parts is a Museum documenting the History of the Magyar – a Fascinating story! Other parts were converted into other museums. There are a lot of art Museums, underground museums telling the story of Dracula…. it got a bit stuffy underneath and I decided to give it a pass. It is what I tell myself anyway. 😉 The parliament… It is probably one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen in my life. In typical style of the age at that time – they had a design competition, ended up taking the winner for the Parliament building but proceeded to build the 2nd and 3rd place around the Parliament – these now house ministries of various functions.
- The Baths. There are a couple of Spring baths around the city – research the lot and go to one that is not necessarily on the beaten track – you will experience the same Hungarian hospitality but more authentic (and a little bit cheaper!) Remember to take your Swimming costume and book a massage while you are at it!
- Our Airbnb apartment – This was my first experience with Airbnb and what how lucky was I to get a really cool and attentive host! The apartment was stunning as well as very central – we easily managed to walk everywhere. The experience of buying your own Hungarian butter …. Guessing it was butter! 😉 to make breakfast during our stay was priceless!
- The churches and the Basilica! (or mini Basilica!) They are beautiful, and beautifully decorated – there is a sense of peace walking into a church that is as old as days, in awe of the detail and the beautifully, carefully preserved art.
Its only a few things, but Budapest touched my heart in a way that I cannot really explain. I fell in love with the Magyar and their beautiful city along the Danube. Until we meet again – I cant wait!