All kinds of Awesome
So here is a city that I legitimately had no idea what to expect from. Budapest.
No one I know has been to Hungary. I have heard of the country before of course, but apart from having a name that is convenient to make puns out of and performing well at the Olympics, my knowledge of Hungary was worryingly low. So… for the people reading this who share my past position, here it is: Hungary’s capital city is amazingly awesomely wonderful.
This city is among one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The architecture in the city is heavily influenced by a huge variety of countries such as the Turks and Greeks. The different styles of buildings have left the city with a really good feel about it. I also didn’t know before I got there that ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’ where two separate cities until the late 19th century, separated by a river through the middle. Both cities have a very different atmosphere and feel, so I recommend splitting your time between sides.
Historically, Hungary has had a really tough run. They were occupied by quite a few empires before finally catching a break and forming a dual Austrian/Hungarian empire that was pretty prosperous. Then everything went south when this empire then ceased to exist after countries rebelled against it, which essentially started World War 1. Then of course, like almost every other country in Europe, Hungary got slammed during World War 2. Thankfully despite all that, they have an amazing capital that embodies all of their wonderfully weird history, and have even managed to maintain a sense of humour.
Ooooo fun fact!! (I think it is cool, so I’m gonna share it with you) The name ‘Hungary’ was given to the nation because people thought they were associated with the ‘Huns’ due to a similar nomadic lifestyle. Whilst the original Hungarians did come from Asia, they had absolutely nothing to do with the Huns, so the name of their country is based on a misunderstanding. Also, because of the Asian heritage and eclectic blend of cultural influences, Hungarian is a realllllly difficult language. I normally attempt at least a few words in countries I visit, but I accepted complete and utter defeat. It is impossible. I am not completely convinced even the locals understand each other.
Ok so now my activities:
I did a walking tour where you get the fastest route to a lot of the landmarks with the added bonus of some history along the way. We saw the outside of their amazing parliament building which is modelled off parliament in London, the palace, the president’s house, and some of the great architecture.
After the tour we had the truly wonderful plan of walking from one end of the city to the other. I am only being a little bit sarcastic, it was a wonderful plan. However if you do something similar, make better shoe decisions than I did. My feet may never forgive me. We walked past the ‘House of Terror’ which was the location of some horrific experiments and cruelty committed by the Nazi’s during World War 2, and on to Hero square where there is an assortment of statues, memorials and monuments that will not disappoint.
We came across a local fair where they were selling traditional food, dressing up in old fashioned clothes and playing games. These weren’t the fair games that I was used to, but stilts and mazes made out of wood. They were free to play, and the only prize was the pride of the winner. The fair was next to hero square and was really special and genuine. I am so glad we stumbled across it.
In the Jewish quarter of the town, a lot of buildings were left abandoned during World War 2 when the Jews were forced to flee their homes. Less than a quarter of this Jewish population survived so many of the residences were never returned to. Some Hungarian youths then had an interesting idea. Instead of leaving the homes in their neglected state, they took the left over furniture and vacant properties and turned them into bars. My tour group stopped by the most famous of this bars ‘Szimpla Kertmozi’. This was such a strange and awesome little place. Old appliances and vehicles had been turned into seating, and there were things like bikes and furniture hanging from the roof. Most importantly, they filled my wine up to the brim. I had to actually take a sip before I could pick it up to avoid spilling it. Best place EVER! Definitely check it out.
Also in Budapest, the food is GREAT! I had some goulash which is a meat soup that they are pretty famous for, as well as some chicken stuffed with cottage cheese and lots of cake. I could not get enough of the food, one of my favourite food stops so far. Just a heads up though, accept in advance that you will probably smell like garlic for at least a week after your visit. They are quite fond of it.
Ok now for one of my favourite travel stories ever (and I feel like I have travelled a fair bit at this stage, so that is something). Budapest as a result of Turkish influence has thermal baths located throughout the city. I went to the largest baths ‘Széchenyi Thermal Baths’ for a pool party. It was soooooo much fun. How many times do you get to go to a pool party in thermal baths in Eastern Europe in your life? The parties happen every week or every couple of weeks (depending on the time of year). It is warm and fun and there is plenty of music and booze. Such a great night.
Ok then, I think I have covered everything. Vienna is next…… my life is awesome.
Till next time.