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Things To Do In Budapest

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There are weeks worth of things to do in Budapest. Aside from some of the others I’ve mentioned, like the baths, the nightlife, etc, of course. Here’s a quick run-down on some of the other things.

  • Climb Buda hill and visit the palace on the top. You can take the tram up – they call it a funicular. It was built in 1870 but it still serves the purpose. There’s a church up there, too and several small cafes.
  • Walk along the Pest side of the Danube and look across to the Buda side. Start at the Parliament building and end whenever you get tired of seeing the sights.
  • Visit the Parliament and take a tour. I hear it’s very nice, though tickets sell out quickly.
  • Have a cappuccino and a torta at the Gerbeaud. It’s pricey for Budapest, at around $8, but well worth it. The place has been in business since the 1860s so they must know something about making good treats.
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Burrito In Budapest

Arriba Taquiera in Budapest serves mission-style burritos. 1300Ft=$7 ish. Red sauce is too sweet. Green sauce has a slight curry flavor. Tortilla not right. Not enough rice an beans so it’s mostly tortilla. Carnitas too salty and dry. One of the worst burritos I’ve ever had. The best I’ve ever had in Europe.photo

Budapest Nightlife

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Budapest has a reputation for some of the best nightlife in all of Europe. I am not a big fan of clubbing, but I do enjoy hanging out in cool bars and watching all the people. Budapest is excellent for that. It has some of the coolest and largest bars I’ve ever been to and provides great vantage points for people watching.

There’s one I particularly enjoyed called Szimpla Kert. The interior is out of a movie set. In fact, it’s probably the coolest looking place I’ve ever been. Planet of the Apes played on a projector screen. A couch and some chairs were made from cutting old bath tubs up and putting cushions on them.

There was another place we went that I think was just an abandoned building that had been made into a dance bar. Only the top couple of floors were open and the rest was shut. So you had to walk up about 4 flights of stairs to even get there. But they had a really cool rooftop bar from which you could look out on the city.

There’s a neat little restaurant called Kiado Kocsma! that stays busy with students eating and drinking. There’s crazy kitch all over the walls. It’s like the basement of 1000 grandparents’ houses put together in Europe. Some good, weird music played the whole time I was there. It was quite nice and they have some tasty goulash.

Baths of Budapest

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I hiked up the Gellért hill to the Citadella and took in the spectacular views from the top. It’s really magnificent up there. I walked around the hill and the remains of the old fortifications and then hiked down again.

On a whim I decided to stop into the Gellért baths. I didn’t have a swim suit or a towel. I explained that to the lady taking money and asked if I could buy those there. She said “No problem, no problem. No need.” I figured they probably had rental suits so I went on in.

I explained my situation to the next person and he also said “No problem” and handed me a loin cloth. Actually this is the preferred way for the Hungarian men to go to the baths. The baths are segregated by gender for just this reason. I was a bit uneasy at first but quickly overcome my trepidation.

There are two large tubs, for lack of a better word, under a large canopy with tile mosaics and decorations. One of these pools is at 36 C, the other at 38C. Fresh water from the underground springs pour out of the mouth of some sort of figure on either side of the room. In the center, there is a walkway between the two and on it, fresh, cool water is spit by other figures.

At the far end of the area is the stream room, a cold water bath and some showers. Closer to the entrance are the dry rooms. You are expected to stay for a couple of hours or so and enjoy all of the amenities. I could only stay for an hour because they were closing.

When I left I felt completely rejuvenated. I expected to merely be cleaner, but instead found that I was more awake and fresh. Drained only of stress. Colors looked more vivid, blacks darker and I felt very much at ease. I was ready to explore the city more, to walk around by night and see the bright lights glowing. And so I did.

Budapest, Hungary

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One day here is a crime. Two a shame, three a pity and four a minimum. Budapest is quite possibly my favorite city that I’ve ever visited. It has been billed as one of the greatest places in the world and certainly lives up to the hype. This is a treasure on the Danube.

Buda and Pest were actually two separate cities until the 1800s when the first permanent bridge was erected, connecting them. Buda, which lies to the west, is hilly and feels ancient. Pest, on the east bank, is flat, more modern and busier. The two souls inhabiting the same body make the place feel at the same time young and old, sleepy and vibrant.

If you have a couple of hours to spend on a stopover or something, I’d highly recommend you cross over to Buda, climb up to the statue of Szent Gellért then keep going to the Citadella and take in the view. Don’t worry about making it back for your train because you’ll decide not to go wherever you were headed.

The baths are incredible, nightlife is fantastic, the cafes are wonderful, architecture is breathtaking, history is expansive, public transit is  efficient. The city has a lot of everything.

Take, for example, the Vörösmarty tér. On the north is St. Stephen’s church, built over approximately sixty years during the 1800s. Construction was delayed because it collapsed and was rebuilt. The church houses the mummified hand of the sainted namesake and first king of Hungary who lived around 1000AD. Walk a bit south and you can have a delicious coffee and torte at the famous Gerbaud cafe. With over 150 years of serving such delights, they’ve had ample time to get it right. Then continue down the Vici utca for the city’s main shopping district, ending at the Central Market where you can get fresh and dried food as well as some souvenirs of your stay.

And that says nothing about the open air parks, the thermal baths and saunas, the ruins, the spectacular city views, etc. Budapest is one of the fantastic places in the world.