A city both modern and as old as time…
My mom and I have an annual tradition to take a trip once a year and the destination is mostly somewhere in Europe. This year’s choice was Budapest in Hungary. I had heard many fond impressions about it, so when my mother found a great offer for this trip, the decision was easy. Our trip was booked to take place between 17.-20.08.18, so it was almost the warmest time of the year everywhere in Europe. Estonia was experiencing an extremely hot summer and Budapest was no different… it was even hotter!
We started our cultural trip from the Castle Hill of Varhegy, where the famous Matthias Church is located. The great vistas and architecture made me fall in love with the place. We loved it so much, that we went back there on the other day. The location features cafes and lounges, so you can enjoy your lunch or coffee with the view of the Danube and the other side of the city.
The West side of the Danube is called Buda and it’s higher up. Some gorgeous historical buildings can be found there, i.e. King’s Castle, which we didn’t have the chance to visit this time. On the other hand, walking around gave us an impression of the lives of the locals, which is located behind the royal building’s line. The East side of the Danube is flatter and also has a lot to see. We went to see the Parliament Building and although I’ve seen some great castles on my trips, this was something special. The visits are done by pre-booking your visit which makes it very organized, as you don’t have to stand in a line, nor walk through the house with hundreds of tourists. The English-speaking guide was witty and told us interesting facts about the building and also about the work of the Hungarian Parlament.
The Parliament Building and all the other historical buildings looked beautiful especially at night when we had our boat trip on the Danube. Our trip started at 21:30, so it was already dark, and everything lit up in lights. The trip lasted almost an hour and we had a guide with us who explained everything we saw on the shore and on the river. The very important aspect about Budapest is that the city has many bridges which connect the Buda and the Pest. The most famous are the seven bridges in the center of the city and my favorite was the Liberty Bridge. Most well-known is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, which was finished in 1849 and became then a symbol for advancement and the national awakening.
On our second day, we traveled to a smaller city, Eger. Before arriving in the city, we stopped in a small village called Hollokö. It is a romantic place with very nice houses and small shops offering unique handicraft. There is also a puppet museum and ceramics workshop. There we tasted some freshly made local rolls and strudles which were delicious!
While in Eger we visited a castle and had a wine tasting dinner near the city on the same evening. This area is also famous for its wineries and mostly for its red wine called Eger’s Bikaver, which in direct translation means bull’s blood. The Hungarian three-course cuisine was great, and we tasted five different wines, both red and white. They have a specific way to pour the wine into the glass or for those who like to experiment, straight into their mouth. It was a fun evening not only because of all that wine we had, but also since there was a band of gypsy musicians who played almost the whole dinner.
We had two days more in Budapest and we spent them exploring the city. We discovered Margaret’s Island, which is between the two parts of the city. It’s a park where you can spend your time walking around, eating in cafes, dancing salsa or watching the musical fountain show. We arrived there late in the evening and enjoyed an hour of colorful fountains. We also visited the city’s biggest market and bought spicy sausage and tasted some street food.
Food was quite an important factor for our trip because while we were there, they had the 20th of August St. Stephen’s Day celebrations. So, the West side of Danube was a LONG street-food area with all the local tastes imaginable for you to try. Because of the celebrations, we saw the parade preparations and everything and there were concerts in the public festival area.
On our last they we decided to visit Budapest’s famous thermal baths and ended up in Szechenyi Bath, which is the biggest and most famous one. I liked the place as an environment and the bathing tradition, but the thermal baths were so overcrowded, that it didn’t feel like a relaxing experience for me. So, I recommend not to go there if you prefer something cozier and I myself will also try to choose a smaller place if I ever end up in Budapest again.
Besides all the tourist sightseeing it was also great just to walk around the city and on the river bank. The Budapest as a city is so calm, clean and I could stay there for weeks on end and leave without getting the full picture of what the city has to offer. I must say I had some false expectation about Hungary and I don’t even know why. This trip suppressed my prejudices and now I will recommend visiting Budapest to everyone!