Buda + Pest = Winner

No money, no water and no accommodation….

This is how we turned up to Budapest at 10.30pm off the train. It was a big day starting in Plitvice lakes, 2 hours busing to Zagreb, 4 hours to spend in Zagreb and then 6 hours on the train to Budapest. We were so thirsty but first thing we had to do was get some Hungarian currency. Straight to the currency change booth for a bad exchange, but our only other option was the dodgy guy offering to exchange for us.

We had no orientation of the city and had not really done any research. We picked up a few hotel brochures and after a quick scan we picked one out and asked a taxi to take us there. We knew it was going to be a bit more expensive than we planned but when we got there, we were happy to part with our money. We were now safe, dry (as it just started to rain) and we went straight to the bar for a drink because we were sooo thirsty. Our taxi ride to the hotel showed glimpses of an impressive and grand city and we were both excited for the morning to come so we could explore. We really liked Budapest; we ended up staying 4 nights instead of our planned 2.

Off to buffet breakfast on day 1, we have not been having much for breakfast lately so it’s a real treat to indulge, but we are finding it harder to fit in 3 meals a day. We really are getting sick of food- did I say that??? Well maybe not sick of food but we have over indulged enough, for now 🙂 (I know what is ahead for us in Poland with lots of wonderful home cooking from my mum’s cousin Stasia) in fact we finally succumbed and on our last night in Budapest, we each had a simple meal of cheeseburger and fries.

Budapest like so many European cities has an amazing history of war and devastation, including the persecution of Jews. I am always interested in visiting the Jewish quarters of European cities and I like to see their community spirit and survival of their tradition. Sorry if this makes it all sound a bit simplistic, but I hope you know what I mean. We also visited 2 museums here, both based on the terror of the wars and German/Russian occupation.

We visited all the sites of Budapest which are split by the Danube river, there are 2 sides of the city, Buda and Pest. Part of our public transport card also allowed us a 2-hour cruise on the river. This was the first thing we did and it gave us a good orientation and history of the city. We walked a lot at and at one stage ended up at some sort of festival/horse museum event. It was sort of weird, we were not really sure what is was meant to be but check out the videos to see my cowboy husband. We came across another festival on the Saturday night and it was great. We particularly enjoyed the Balkanic Zepplein band- a Romanian Led Zeppelin cover band.

Robin Hood

Food, well of course we made room to fit in some goulash and a few other stews. They were damn good but again after one of those you cant eat another meal. We visited the famous Market Hall, bit like a Hungarian version of Queen Vic market, they sell a lot of pickled stuff, cabbage, capsicum and so on. Cakes are also quite a feature in Hungary but the best dessert we found was Chimney Cake (Kürtöskalács). See video. You can get them coated in different toppings, vanilla sugar, coconut, walnut, cinnamon, chocolate or almonds. Marzipan also seems to feature around here but that’s not one of my favourites. I was pleased to also try the poppy-seed ice-cream as well, it was yum.

Tipping is common practice in Budapest but we did not realise that at first, so when a waitress mumbled something about service was not included, I scrambled around in the wallet and gave her 20 forints. I was still getting used to the money (which is 200 forints to 1 aussie dollar) so no wonder she gave me a weird look for her 10 cent tip. Many of the restaurants also have talented musicians playing in them, usually violin and classical music. The catch unfortunately is that they then come around to the tables trying to sell you their CD. One of them played Waltzing Matilda for us.

Serenade with strings attached

All in all, we both really loved it here; we didn’t go to the famous baths, but maybe next time 🙂 I had been here 15 years ago with Irene and parts of the city were familiar and it was easy to see why I always had a fond spot for it. If you get the chance, do come here.

I am writing this entry on a bus as we drive through the beautiful Tatra Mountains. We have crossed the border into Slovakia on our way to Krakow. It’s a 6 hour bus trip but the scenery is keeping us entertained and the windy roads on guard. They also played the movie , “Australia” on the bus, in Hungarian, subtitles in English, driving through Slovakia – surreal !

No real plans for Krakow, but we might try and find something back in the mountains for a few days – stay tuned.

PS Our bus driver was pulled over for speeding in Slovakia !!



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