I returned to Italy only a few days ago and I can’t wait to write about my incredible experience of spending 10 days in Budapest. There is so much information in my mind that it’s hard to decide where to start! I’ve been very lucky: beyond being a tourist I also lived like a local thanks to Anna, my former Erasmus room-mate, who lives in Budapest, and hosted me and took me around the whole time.
Budapest is described in several ways, such as the Pearl of the Danube or the Paris of Eastern Europe. How come it has such nicknames? This city is fascinating, historical, elegant, and royal yet cheap and funny. It’s enchanting in every season of the year.
Hungary has become a popular destination in the last decade. The capital satisfies everyone’s preferences: low cost or luxury travels, thermal spa or cultural tourism, trips for cruise-lovers and an intense night-life all week long, all around the city.
Why did I love this trip so much? Anna was the best guide I could ever wish for. She showed me the main attractions, taught me new Hungarian words every day, and explained social and historical facts. We also visited places outside the town and I went to some friends of Anna’s house party to experience a bit of the life of the locals.
My Hungarian 10-day adventure (in brief)
- The main attractions left me literally speechless: the Parliament, the Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthia’s Church, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square and the Vajdahunyad Castle.
- I followed the historical track of the Jewish people: going to the ghetto and Synagogue, seeing the 60 pairs of shoes along the Danube, and visiting the Terror House and the recent Monument to Victims of the Nazis.
- Every day I learnt a few words in Hungarian; which is an extremely difficult language, because it doesn’t belong to the Indo-European family.
- I enjoyed a stroll in the Palóc village named Hollókö, a Unesco Heritage site since 1987, and I spent an afternoon in nearby Mátraszőlős.
- The Central Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok) and the stands selling food and hand-crafted products in Vörösmarty Square were very interesting.
- I admired the Royal Palace in Gödöllő, the favourite residence of Sissi, the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary.
- Kocsma, simple bars where people meet after work, are the best places to get cheap Hungarian beer. I paid less than 1€ for a pint (no wonder people drink more than in Italy!).
- The sunset over the Chain Bridge, seen from the bar Raqpart, is amazing!
- Litres and litres of lemonade with fresh mint saved me from hot-humid days.
- Margaret Island is beautiful even in the rain.
- I played the tourist in the ruin bars, dancing at Instant and chatting at the famous Szimpla Kert.
- I devoured 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 10 dinners choosing only Hungarian dishes.
- I met new people going to friends of Anna’s places even outside Budapest in nice houses deep in the green suburbs.
- I entered the Corvinus University pretending to be a student.
- I walked in the sun and in the rain. I took the metro, buses, trams and suburban trains using a student monthly ticket (the price is lower than a standard weekly pass!)
- I relaxed in the famous Széchenyi thermal baths.
- As a good tourist, I let myself be tempted into buying a few souvenirs (postcards and painted eggs).
This is just a summary of my holiday in Budapest and its surroundings. My upcoming posts will be about interesting Hungarian facts and curiosities and about surviving as a vegetarian in Budapest (knowing that the typical cuisine is for meat-lovers).
In the meantime, fall in love with the Hungarian capital looking atthis video and these pictures that show how stunning Budapest is!