Three days in Budapest, Hungary
23.10.2013 - 26.10.2013 18 °C
After reuniting with my sisters and recharging the batteries in Mother England for a few days, we set off to destination #1 of our two-week Eastern European tour; Budapest.
I’m not sure what we expected, but for some reason we were surprised to be greeted by a city with spunk and soul that had all the trimmings one might enjoy at other classy Euro destinations. There were the Rapunzel-esque castles on the hill, elegant bridges over the River Danube and tree-lined boulevards. Did I mention the place is awash with hot pools of all descriptions? How charming indeed.
Autumn trees lining the streets
The chain bridge separating Buda and Pest
Strolling over the bridge was pretty windy
It may have been a tourist trap for which we are suckers, but the icecream scooped in the shape of flowers was really clever and tasty
Once again Airbnb.com pulled through for us - we scored a room in a nice fella’s apartment for €18/night which was indicative this relatively economical destination. Centrally located in the ‘Oktogon’, it was perfect for strolling the streets and taking in the sights.
St Stephans Basilica
Church in Buda with super awesome tiled roof. We may have to tile our roof like this at home
View over the bridge from Buda to Pest
I will admit I wasn’t particularly well-versed on Hungary’s 20th century woes, so our trip to Budapest’s “House of Terror” museum provided a blow-by-blow of life under the tyrannical fascist and communist regimes and also serves as a memorial for victims detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. The museum has very innovative exhibits and is well-worth a look if you are in the neighbourhood.
Memorial for all the Jews affected by WWII
Exterior of the terror museum which portrays Hungary's troubled past
People regularly light candles as a way to remember the victims
We made sure we got over to the Buda side of town to check out the castles up on the hill. The castles were fab, but the best part is you get a buena vista over the river and the city. After a few hours reading in the park we decided we needed to unwind a little bit more.
Rolling around in leaves was a theme of our time in Budapest
The lengths we go to in order to get that great shot
Locals taking some time out to soak up the views
Some locals choosing to bring their cello to play in the park - which was a nice accompaniment to our reading
Other locals busking in the tourist spots
Great backdrop for eating lunch (We stuck to our cheap fresh bakery goods though)
Castle hill area
It wouldn’t be a trip to Budapest without dipping a toe or 10 in one of the many local baths, and bathe we did in Császár Baths - Veli Bej
hot pools tucked away behind a hospital next to the Danube. For AUD$20 for both of us – it was one of the more economical options in town but they certainly hadn’t skimped on the facilities - it was positively palatial.
Amongst all the touristing we were keen on ticking off a few local delights including, but not limited to; paprika chicken + homemade dumplings, baked goods in general and have to a drink in a ‘ruin pub’. The ruin pubs, once upon a time, were all abandoned/derelict buildings in a state of disrepair and unused outdoor spaces, which have been converted into bars crawling with hipsters. Top of the list was Szimpla Kert, which was ranked by 3rd coolest bar in the world by somebody once.
We do love a tourist trap... and Goulash
Szimpla Kert inside
So put on our glad-rags we did – Hayley asked me if her as-yet-unwashed-in-6-months Bolivian alpaca jumper was “hipster, or just daggy?”, we both decided it was the perfect blend of both and went on our way. We needn’t have worried as it seemed the bar was more tourist attraction than hipster hangout and the patrons looked almost as daggy as we did. Phew.
It was an awesome city to spend a few days in and we would love to have explored the remainder of the country but alas, we had to train our way across Croatia to meet up with our marathon running crazy friends Scoops in Slovenia. Luckily for us we had heard the train ride was very pretty.