Hungary: Budapest, Part 2

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve had a quick geeze through part 1. Some of the best parts of travelling solo involve catching up with friends from home, or visiting another spot with someone you’ve met along the way. A good friend of mine had a few days off work and wanted to visit Budapest, and I happened to be there at the same time so that worked out well!

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Budapest are bidding for the 2024 Olympics.

My list of things to do coincided with a lot of those on her hit-list so we nailed a few over the next couple of days. No trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to the thermal baths. The city has quite a few, ranging from huge public baths to exclusive speciality joints. We visited one of the more well known ones, Szechenyi, because they boasted a huge complex including a bar and a massage service. And I like massages. Yea.

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They have super hot baths too. It was 32 degrees outside though, and I was pretty content with drinking beer and sitting in the outdoor pools before a Thai lady worked her magic on me.

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Coincidentally, the easiest way to reach these baths is by Metro Line 1, which the locals allegedly refer to as just, ‘The Underground.’ It’s the oldest line in Budapest, and the second oldest line in the world, after The London Underground.

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This world heritage site was built in 1894. It’s super cool to ride on, I enjoy it a lot more than modern day subways. The stations are super bad-ass and the trains themselves sound like that shitty dubstep of 2010, but in a good way.

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As mentioned in my previous post, Susanna found a walking tour with a good reputation and so we went for a stroll while finding out more about the city and its history. I’m not going into it all here but the tour was great, I’d highly recommend it. These guys, ‘Free Walking Tours,’ are the ones to go with. The tour took about two and a half hours and was really informative.

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They also offer a pub tour, which promises to differ from a typical pub crawl in the way it’s not about getting rat-faced as quickly as possible, but seeing some of Budapest’s more local pubs and areas and also trying traditional types of alcohol. There’s this Hungarian brandy which you try and it’s quite special but I’ve got to say it tasted like petrol mixed with a little bit of whiskey.

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We visited Gozsdu Lane, which is a must do. It’s filled with loads of little bars, speciality eateries and events. It’s all fairly reasonably priced considering the area (in the middle of the Jewish Quarter).

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YEA, THAT’S RIGHT, I TOOK A SELFIE, BITCHES! No stick though. I won’t go that far.

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Now, Hungarian food. There is a traditional goulash which is a soup that you have to try, but I also highly recommend trying the stew that they do with ‘dumplings,’ which aren’t dumplings as we know it, but closer to pasta. Kind of like gnocchi. Bloody good man. We went to a joint named Szazeves Etterem, which was very reasonably priced considering the location and also had a live string band present. It’s also the oldest Hungarian restaurant in Budapest, I believe.

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When you’re in Budapest you need to go and visit the House / Museum of Terror. It’s dedicated to depicting what happened during and after the war, with the take-over of the soviets and the terrible shit that went on for many years after Germany was defeated. Be warned, some of it isn’t too pleasant but it’s important to see. If you’re under 26 and hold an EU passport you get in for half price. Get the audio guide.

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The final of Euro ’16 was on when we were in Budapest, so we headed along to the biggest outdoor screen in the country to watch it which was good fun. It’s been cool being in Europe while this has been going on, the atmosphere in the pubs and the general excitement anywhere in Europe easily rivals that of New Zealand when the All Blacks are playing.

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That screen was on Margarat island, which is an island in the middle of the river of Budapest. Even if the screen wasn’t there, we were going to go and check out the city lights from the peninsula there anyway. The lights on the parliament building are rad, unfortunately my phone didn’t pick it up too well.

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If you’re using the metro a bit, get a 24 hour pass which is cheap and also includes entry on to all the trams, busses and boats in that period, too. We used the ticket to take a free public boat ride down the river, which was one of the best ‘free’ things I’ve done on my travels! It’s the best way to see the Parliament building on the side of the river as when you’re walking next to it you’re too close to see the whole thing as one, and you’re too far away on the other side of the Danube.

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This is supposed to be the most beautiful road in Budapest. I have to say, I like the trees. They’re nice trees. Not too big, not too small. Just right. Nice trees.

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That ends my tales abut Budapest. I’d definitely come back here; there’s so much to do and it’s a great place for everyone, whether you want to relax, party or sight-see. It’s cheap, the people are friendly (except when they’re driving) and the coffee is decent.

I wanted to visit Balaton lake in Hungary also, but it was astronomically expensive due to a festival on in the area. Next time!

Thanks for reading.

– Damo

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Tips:

  • Buy a 24-hour pass if you’re going to use the metro more than 4 times. If you don’t, make sure to buy the single tickets as there are always people checking and they will fine you and walk you to an ATM to make you pay.
  • Always tip the walking tour guides if it was good. It’s how they make a living.
  • You can drink water from the tap, it’s really good. There are water stations everywhere too.
  • Ask the locals when the best time to go to certain bars is. Some get overly busy early, some later.
  • Negotiate with cab drivers before getting in (much like any other big city).
  • Hungary has some of the strictest, if not THE strictest drug laws in Europe

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