Before arriving, I had asked friends for their Budapest sightseeing tips and was becoming more curious by the second when the majority of their responses involved the words ‘just walk around’. I didn’t really know what to expect, but on all accounts, I knew it was going to be a city unlike any I’d seen before. Truthfully, on reflection, it really was.
Flying into Budapest on my own, (Moo flew to Montenegro to go kite surfing for a few weeks while I walked from Hungary to Italy) at first it felt like a limb was missing, but I was excited to explore at my own pace and get a feel for the place. On arrival, I caught the local airport bus into the city (which was incredibly easy and cheap!) and navigated my way to my hostel.
That’s right, I’ll say it again, I stayed in a hostel.
I found hotel’s and airbnb’s really expensive and considering I wasn’t going to spend any time indoors, I didn’t mind so much (I minded a little) to stay in a hostel. Plus, the location was fantastic. I stayed near the Palace District, on the Pest side.
On arrival, walking the streets, I found myself hundreds deep in a climate strike (it was Friday after all). If you have no idea what I’m talking about: simply google Greta Thunberg and you’ll be right.
It was so inspiring. I was surrounded by school children who were so passionate about climate change as they chanted, shouted and screamed to the rooftops. They were simply begging for politicians to take them (and the issue) seriously. When we look back at this crisis, once the current politicians are no longer in power – will we say: ‘I can’t believe we had to fight so hard’ or will be say ‘maybe they were right’? Time will tell, I guess.
Things about Hungary you might not know:
- Hungarians are responsible for these epic inventions: the Rubik’s cube, the ballpoint pen, the soda water machine, the safety match, colour television and much more!
- They’ve awarded themselves the status of being: The ‘losers’ of Europe – having chosen the wrong / losing side of each war.
- They have their own currency. The Hungarian Forint. I’d advise you avoid the ATM converters from EU to HUF, they have the worst exchange rate.
- Hungarian’s refer to themselves as Magyars. The Hungarian word for Hungary is Magyarorszag, who were the original tribe of the land. You’ll see the word splayed throughout the city.
- They’re great producers (not necessarily exporters) of wine. After coming from Greece, this was highly anticipated and appreciated.
- The Danube river splits the city into two, the Buda and the Pest. Just as there are two sides to every coin – the city has two equally enchanting sides.
Something I won’t ever understand is why someone would say they’ve “done” Budapest. It’s impossible to comprehend anyone “doing” such a city without years of inhabitation, living like a true Magyar that is; feeling entertained (they love a music festival, big or small), eating well and enjoying a drink. Something I think we can all get on aboard with.
All I can assure you from my short stay is that Budapest has good food, good coffee and great beer!
On a negative note: I found the bucks and hens parties incredibly tiring. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live each weekend watching people become inebriated on the streets and disrespect the city in such a way. Vomit was all over the city floor as well as broken glass from take-away brews. If nothing is done soon, I fear what will happen to the local laws. Having seen what drunk idiots can do to a cities’ culture, it would be terrible to see it happen to such a culturally vibrant and buzzing city such as Budapest.
A huge positive for the city are their trendy ruin bars. The ruin bars are an excellent example of taking something old and broken and giving it a purpose.
The inner part of the city had a number of crumbling and dilapidated buildings and in the early 2000’s a man named Abel Zsendovitis took a gamble and set up a bar in an abandoned building. He offered affordable drinks to the young creative bohemian’s of the area. Full of local designs, vintage and mismatched furniture, it’s an eclectic vibe to ‘wow’ the hipster within. Something I could see Melbourne managing and implementing well.
If you’re soon to visit consider: a boat tour at sunset or a stroll around Margaret park. Perhaps try the free walking tour or maybe the castle (museum /art gallery). Check out the central market (I didn’t eat at the stalls, settling instead on the restaurant with the singing gypsies). Walk the many bridges (all of them) and certainly visit a ruin bar (I went to the famous Szimple Kert, pictured above.)
I really hope you’re about to visit Budapest, it was such an incredible city. If so, enjoy a frosty cold beer for me.
From here, I set off to the small town of Lenti, Hungary to begin my walk. Tune in next week for that.
Until then xo