Hungary: Budapest, Part 1

Nobody I know who has ever visited Budapest has said they’ve had anything other than an excellent time. As such, I was looking to visiting the renowned capital of Hungary, and although I didn’t see much of the rest of the country (extortionate prices in other areas of interest due to peak season), at least I feel like I’ve given Budapest a good floggin.’

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Budapest is known as a party spot for backpackers. Whilst I enjoy a beer or ten, I opted to flag staying at one of the city’s many party hostels and go for something in-between instead. Tiger Tim’s was my choice, which provided a good middle ground between socialising, partying and relaxing. I’d recommend it.

After settling in to the hostel, I went out for a few drinks with some of the other backpackers there. Budapest is known for its ‘Ruin’ bars, which are run-down buildings converted into funky bars, with cheap drinks, shisha, dozens of rooms to be discovered and different music in each nook and cranny.

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Possibly the most well known ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, was one of our first ports of call. Definitely go and check this place out if you go there, but be aware that there are loads more places to go and drink a beer at, all of which have their own flavour. Red Ruin (communist themed) is another one, although there are dozens within a couple minutes of each other, all within the Jewish district. On the map below Tim highlighted a couple of the places the crew from the hostel would go to, but pretty much all the ones in blue are worth checking out.

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You can spend days just wandering around the city discovering stuff, which is what a lot of people do. Everything is within walking distance and if you’re feeling like a lazy sod, or you poisoned yourself a little too heartily last night the public transport works, too. Above is a tree which has unofficially become a memorial for Michael Jackson. It’s right next to Deak Square.

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One thing to note; Budapest is very cheap for a European city, which is probably part of the reason why it is such a draw-card for backpackers. Beer is a couple of dollars, a decent meal will set you back not much more and accommodation is a third of what you’d pay in, say, Vienna.

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St Stephen’s Basilica. Budapest is filled with impressive architecture and structures. Most of them are all highlighted on the tourist maps which can be found everywhere. I’d actually recommend going on a walking tour here, which I did with my good friend Susanna and will cover off in Part 2.

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I went for a walk over the chain bridge, which is the most famous bridge in Budapest. On the other side you can go up one of those funicular trams but it costs as much as you’d get for your left kidney on the black market so just walk up the hill like a normal person 😉

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On the other side of the river is the ‘Buda’ part of Budapest (it used to be in two parts, and unified n 1873, something which will be explained to you if you come here and is too much to cover on this blog; check here for the wiki). This side of the Danube river is home to Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion among other sights and museums and seasonal shows. It’s quite a nice area and a good place to get a coffee whilst you comment every five minutes about how warm it is.

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This can’t be a tuk-tuk, where are the 30 speakers, 5 subs, beers and constant offers for happy endings and pharmaceuticals? Oh, wait, this isn’t Thailand is it…

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This is Fisherman’s Bastion, which is next to Buda Castle. This is the place to come an get a good view of the city, although for some reason it always looks much better in person than photos. I think because the beauty of Budapest is in the detail, something my Nexus 5 isn’t able to capture.

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There is a hell of a lot of history here, and the Hungarians have been through a lot, something which I found out more about over the rest of my time and will cover off in my next post. Below is a photo of a memorial built to honour the Jews who were made to stand on the bank in WWII and remove their shoes prior to being shot in the back by arrows.

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That was my first 3 days or so in Budapest. I wanted to save most of the main attractions for when a pal arrived from Munich. I’ll cover off what we did in the next post! Thanks for reading!

– Damo

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