Hungary - The Potato Chick

Budapest, Hungary

In a sentence...a fabulous cosmopolitan city. Looking forward to more of Eastern Europe.

Food we loved...chicken kebabs that were so good we had them twice in one day.

En route to Turkey we decided to dip our toes into Eastern Europe (metaphorically speaking) in Budapest. We were rewarded with a fantastic weekend in a city that reminded me of Melbourne, despite having no similarities to Melbourne whatsoever.

After an unexpected dinner and catch-up with our lovely friend Hannah, we spent our first day wandering aimlessly and admiring all the buildings. I decided that Budapest would be joining Venice, Tuscany and San Sebastian on my “favourites” list. We finished off the afternoon enjoying the shade and gardens on Margret Island as we cruised around on a peddle powered buggy. We then decided to pretend to be sophisticated for the night by going to the opera in the outdoor amphitheatre on the island. I’m not sure we convinced any of the locals that we knew what was going on given Aida was sung in Italian accompanied by Hungarian subtitles.

We saw the sights during a free walking tour and learnt a little about Hungary’s period of Communism. We also picked up plenty of interesting facts including that: the city is actually two cities which were combined into one (Buda and Pest); Hungarian is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn and a Hungarian invented the Rubik’s Cube. Fuelled by coffees from My Little Melbourne, we enjoyed a fabulous night out in a few of Budapest’s “ruin pubs” with a group of friendly Dutch and Danish backpackers.

Ruin pubs began to open at the beginning of the 21st century in tenement houses and factory buildings in  the city centre which were doomed to destruction. They are quite large in size and furnished with mismatched furniture and other items which really belong at the tip. For example, one of the pubs we visited had an entire car body which you could sit in to have your drink. These places had a great atmosphere and everywhere you looked there was something interesting to see.

On our final day we wandered the markets in the Jewish quarter before heading to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths for a spot of relaxation. The complex is housed in a beautiful old building and has 15 indoor pools and 3 outdoor pools, all fed from two thermal springs. Nick spent the afternoon sauna-hopping while I lazed in the coolest pool people watching.

And just when I thought I could not love Budapest any more Nick took me on a romantic date to the local ten pin bowling centre.  When I actually managed to beat him in our second game Budapest soared to the very top of my “favourites” list.

Next...Istanbul, Turkey.

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Posted 15 August 2014