As both Meagan and I had been to Budapest before, we knew we were in for a treat and were looking forward to spending some time in this amazing city. Our friend Audrey who lives in Sydney but is originally from Budapest was here so it was good to catch up with someone we knew from back home.
But first our eventful drive. We took off from Osijek in the late afternoon and knew we would be driving at night. It wasn’t too bad as the roads are all freeways and quite new. We bought a vignette (toll pass) from a service station once we crossed the border. Smooth sailing until we got to a little town near Pecs where we stopped for a break. I was giving the car a bit of an interior clean and as I was throwing away stuff from the car, I accidently threw the car key away also. Once I realised this, panic set in. This was even before I told Meagan. Before Meagan could realise what I had done, I took a look at the bin, took a look around and saw no one was looking and quickly put my hand in the bin. My arm reached all the way down and I could feel the wetness of an ice-cream and finally the key. I was glad that I got the key even though I felt dirty.
Our eventful night did not end there. As I had been to Budapest before, I was in charge of the accommodation and found this amazing room which was very cheap on Vaci Ut. I had thought it was in the centre but after driving around for about an hr, I realised that I had booked a room on Vaci Ut. but had stayed on Vaci U. Similar street names but about 5kms apart. I was having a terrible night.
The rest of our time was great. The only regret was that we booked 4 nights only but could have easily stayed a whole week. Budapest is referred to as the Paris of the east. It is a charming city with beautiful architecture, friendly people and some of the best food you could imagine. You will see later that we used this trip as a culinary tour too.
But first the history of Budapest. Our first morning was spent on 2 free walking tours. The 1st tour took us around both the Buda and Pest side and lasted for 2.5 hours. The tours gave us some insight into how Budapest was formed. We were told that Hungarian is the 3rd hardest language to learn (which I can believe) and that the Hungarian people actually derived from what is modern day China! This is incredibly interesting as they have an Asian background. Their language is not associated with German or Latin but the most similar language is Finnish!
On our tour we also found out that Budapest is home to the 2nd biggest Jewish synagogue in the world, 1/3 of Hungarians live outside of the country, the 2nd biggest Hungarian population is in London and 75% of the city was bombed during WWII. Hungary was formed by the Nomads before the Mongolians came and destroyed half of the country. They occupied until the Ottomans before the Hapsburgs freed the Hungarians from them. Hungary lost a lot of land during WWI with an estimated 66% of the country being lost and classified under different countries. In WWII, the Nazi’s promised to help Hungary reclaim lost land but instead over 300,000 Jews in Hungary were sent to concentration camps. Towards the end of the war, Hungary could see they made the wrong decision and tried to become neutral.
So enough of the history. Budapest is home to some amazing monuments and buildings. There are the bridges that make crossing the Danube from Buda to Pest easy. Some of these bridges are amazing. Crossing the bridges is one thing but the islands in the city on the Danube are also amazing. There are many islands where people can get away from the city to relax. Budapest is built around and on geothermal springs with many baths dotted around the city. The islands have baths and Meagan & I spent out final morning in Hungary in one of these hot baths while the weather outside was miserable and cold.
Another building of note is the Budapest parliament building, built in neo-Gothic style which is world famous for its size and beauty. It is 268 metres long as holds the Hungarian crown jewels.
From the Buda side, you have the citadel and the Buda castle, built for the royal family.
Another amazing site is St. Stephen’s basilica. Although close to 1/3 of Hungarians are not religious, this symbol of religion is amazing.
One of the great things about Hungary is the cuisine. As it has been part of different countries and at the centre of Europe, the cuisine has been influenced by many different flavours. We found the desserts in Budapest to be especially good with our favourite being the kurtosh. It is a pastry which comes in a cylinder shape and can have different toppings like cinnamon or nuts. It is a great on a cold day.
They have many other great desserts, including this special gelato,
After all that food, I am hungry. But honestly, this city is special and even if you don’t love food, you need to eat and you will be amazed at the options Budapest has to offer. The culture, food, history and architecture are truly special and a must stop for any tourist heading to Europe.