Budapest was the biggest city we’d visited so far on our trip. Upon arriving after a long train journey from Bratislava I said to Mitch that it reminded me in some ways of London: busy, buzzing, metro stations, international restaurants and shops greeting us. He laughed in his ‘I-hate-London’ way and told me it was nothing like London. He was soon put in his place when we were told that the main bridge connecting ‘buda’ and ‘pest’ was designed based on Hammersmith bridge in London and other parts of the city were actually quite similar.
For the record, I love London. After living there for two years I miss it like an old friend, so arriving in this thriving capital city was brilliant. Our time there was broken up with Angloville in the middle but overall we spent five full days in the city. Budapest has a plethora of accommodation; for this reason it’s unbelievably cheap to stay there. We stayed in various accommodation during our time there, ranging from a hostel for £3 each, to a double room in a shared apartment/flat for £4.80 each or something silly like that. It’s easy to stay there because of the great value of accommodation, not to mention how cheap food and drink is too. Pizza slices for 200 forint (50p) and a glass of wine for 500 (£1.25). Loving life.
In terms of the city there is so much to see. I’m going to just briefly talk through a few of my highlights divided into the Buda and Pest side.
Most of the accommodation and nightlife taking place on the ‘pest’ side. The old Jewish Quater is the place to be for a few drinks but also shrouded in history, with the area having the second biggest synagogue outside New York. Also on the ‘pest’ side you have the incredible parliament building (another reminder of London for me). Unfortunately we never got a tour inside due to timing but from the outside it looks very impressive. Another incredible building is St Stephen’s Basilica. It’s worth going in as the architecture inside is spectacular, however it was swarming with tourists which for me takes away the spiritual element which I’ve found in so many churches we’ve visited on our trip.
The final thing on the Pest side and one of the highlights to any trip to Budapest has to be the thermal baths. Natural hot springs lie under the city creating wonderful warm pools for locals and tourists alike. We headed to Szechenyi Baths; the most famous and therefore the most expensive but well worth it for a relaxing and warm afternoon any time of year.
The view from our apartment room looked across to the river to the ‘Buda’ side. We saw a hill with some statues on, after consulting our book we realised it was Gellert Hill and those statues were Liberty Monument. The monument is a tribute to the soviet soliders who liberated Budapest in 1945. You get some stunning views across the city and the monument is so impressive, reflecting the true testament to those who fought in the war.
Of course, there are so many more things to see in Budapest, these were just a few of my highlights. Make sure you drink some Hungarian wine, head to the Jewish Quarter for some great food and see the spectacular views the city has to offer .