This is the sixth in a series of posts about a trip to Europe in the summer of 2016
Among all the cities we visited during this trip if there was one with a distinctly Eastern Europe feel to it, it was this one. Budapest (pronounced BudapeSHt) is one hell of a party town. It’s actually two cities Buda and Pest, divided by the river. Buda houses the baths that Hungary is so famous for, Matthias Church and the Castle itself. While Pest has a lot of the ‘downtown’ and what one may refer to as the ‘city center’.
The city is huge and bustling, as capitals usually are, but there is a distinct naughtiness about Budapest. This city is like the kid who plays truant but still scores the highest grade for class participation. There is lots of great food, lots to see and it caters to all palettes. You can spend all day soaking in a grand bath (both hot and cold on offer) or you can go bar hopping at all times of day or night. The Hungarians really know how to bring the roof down. Of course with a toddler we couldn’t do ANY of the wild things. Plus during the day it was INCREDIBLY hot. We were staying at All 4 U apartments and the air-conditioner was out of order and sadly didn’t get fixed the three days we were there. When we complained, we got a very cocky email in response. So, even though the apartment wasn’t bad at all, the hospitality was direly lacking. I certainly would not recommend it to anyone.
As with the other cities we took the sightseeing Hop On/Off bus tour for Budapest as well. We were staying on the Pest side, and even though we visited Buda twice in the bus, we didn’t get to see the Castle, or Matthias church or even any of the baths (most of the baths were heated and mercury kept rising each of the three days we were there). There are the usual touristy things to do (like St Peters, Heroes Square, Andrassy Avenue, Boat Tour, Night Tour), but here is one place I HIGHLY recommend- The Central Market Hall. It is just something to see. It’s a HUGEASS structure that looks like a railway station and has all kinds of stalls inside – fruits, vegetables, spices, dried fruits, roots, coffee beans, chocolates, nuts, clothes, shoes, souvenirs and very fancy restaurants as well. It has people thronging it all times of day. And the produce is not ye ol’ average stuff. It is the most BEAUTIFUL looking fruit ever, shiny, juicy and so good you don
’t want to eat it. No picture can do justice to the feeling that place evokes. Go with your wallet full though, as temptations run high.
Since we were the boring couple with a baby we didn’t do any partying. We never even hung out ten feet away from a bar, even though our apartment was right above where all the action was. Our bedtime is dictated by an 18 month old. But if you are interested in the consumption of any kind of alcohol, Hungary is a great place. Beware though, most of the beer has severely unpronounceable names, so ask for a translation. (We gleaned this information during our Walking Tour, in case you are wondering). Another thing, be careful and carry your inhaler with you everywhere if you are an asthmatic. Every second person in the city smokes and just walking down the street for just five minutes makes your clothes reek of nicotine.
Another dining tip, if you say thank you to a waiter when he gets you the bill at the end of the meal, it is a sign that you don’t need the change. So, wait for the change, give some tip and then say thank you when heading out. Oh and by the way, the food is not all that expensive. In fact, maybe the cheapest amongst all the cities we visited (even coming from Pakistan).
Budapest boasts very diverse architectural styles that a lot of different rulers bestowed upon it – sorry but I can only recall the Hapsburgs and the Soviets, I’m sure there were many others. Part of our 48 hour sightseeing pass was a night tour (during which we slung a sleeping toddler over the shoulder and headed out, MY HUSBAND AND I DESERVE 5 STARS for that, was very gung-ho and NOT easy). But the night tour is one more thing about Budapest I HIGHLY recommend. The Parliament building is on the riverbank on the Pest side and it was said that the structure lights up like a birthday cake at night. And sure enough it did. Check this out:
Again very shoddy camera and not much skill. If you ever visit Budapest please do anything to get this view. And of course this is not to discredit the rest of the city, which was also really pretty, especially at night.
Budapest left me with a feeling that no other place did: it left me thirsting for more. It beckoned another visit and I really hope to return some day.