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Hungary anyone?

HUNGARY | Tuesday, 4 August 2015 | Views [363]

Budapest has always had a certain appeal to me. I didn't have a clear image in my mind of what to expect, however I knew it would be both beautiful and delicious. As we drove in on our bus 'Big Daddy' I wasn't disappointed.

Traditionally Budapest was two cities. On one side of the Danube was Pest and the other (you guessed it huh) is Buda. With the improvement of transportation and the building of some key bridges (such as the Chain Bridge) the two cities were united and became one. On the Buda side of the river, Gellerts Hill rises above and casts an imposing shadow over the city. It is home to a famous spa and a memorial statue to St Gellert who was tossed down the hill in a wine cask to his death. It is here where we first stopped to get a good look out over the city. The Buda side of the city is also home to Buda Castle, Matthias Church (often called the Disney church for its beautiful turrets) and a funicular railway that you can ride to the peak to explore these sites.

The Buda side of the city, is more like the city centre. It is home to the market place, the hostel we stayed in, the Basillica and the main shopping district. Both are easy to traverse by foot, and also serviced by a Metro (train) service and trams. We stayed at the Wombats hostel, which was surrounded by every kind of delicious and decadent type of food you can imagine. It was here I offically counted that we had reached the 'pastry zone' of Europe. Asides from pastries to tempt you, Hungarians love to serve up meals of epic proportions. Our first night was a group dinner, where we took a 20 minute walk to sit in the basement dining room of a Hungarian restaurant. 99.9% of the dishes revolved around friend food, potatoes and dumplings, so trying to be good I ordered the 'roast' pork. My meal was served to me in a large silver dish with a lid, reminiscient of what you would cover your food with at a fine dining establishment. I initially planned to nibble at the sides, but it was so delicious that I ate my fill of pork and dumplings, however the dish was so big it did not make much of a dint! Some of the girls who ordered schnitzels were served 3 on a platter with fried potatoes, and that was only a single serving!

One of the 'must see' places in Budapest is the Museum of Terror. A former communist building where people were tortured in the basement during the communist reign. As we only had one full day, I decided to bypass this with one of the other girls and take a walking tour of the city. It was a long but lovely walk down the Danube, with our sites set on the funicular railway. We passed many ornate buildings in the Austro-Hungarian style and when chancing upon a bakery that looked too delicious to pass up, stopped to have a pastry lunch. It was delicious!

The view over the city and the church at the top were beautiful, however by this point we had tired legs, so we caught a taxi back to our hostel and got ready for the thermal baths. We headed to the Szechnyi Baths, which we had been advised were the best of the two. Whilst the indoor pools we rather 'thermal' smelling, the outdoor pools were a lovelz way to relax and we spent our time pool hopping between the 30 degree and 38 degree pool. By this point I was well and truly relaxed and being told that I couldn't leave Budapest without trying the Nutella pizza being made next to our hostel, I headed off to grab me a slice!

Budapest is known for its nightlife, in particular 'dive bars'. We visited a quirkly one called Szimpla. It was an indoor/outdoor arrangement with lots of paraphenalia hanging from the ceilings and walls. It reminded me a little of something you'd find in Fitzroy, but much bigger.

All in all, I could have easily spent another couple of days in Budapest, and was sad to say goodbye. It was a truly beautiful city and good preparation for the beauty of Austria which lay ahead.

In Budapest I:swam in a thermal pool, caught a funicular railway, saw a castle, ate nutella pizza, was defeated by a giant dish of roast pork and dumplings, saw beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture, saw the Danube, went to a 'dive bar', typed this up on a German computer (think umlauts and z's where y's should be...argh!!)

Tags: buda, budapest, food, hungary, pest, thermal springs

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