My House in Budapest, My Hidden Treasure Chest
My next “must visit” European country after Germany was Croatia. I had heard many great things about the country, especially during the summertime. Getting there overland would be a challenge, as the two countries are pretty far apart. I decided to break up my journey by spending some time in Budapest, one of the more famous Eastern European cities.
I also happened to know a couple that lived there, Ingrid and Lino, whom I had met at Diani Beach back in December. As it was a bit of a last minute trip, I didn’t have a lot of plans. Luckily, Budapest is very cheap, and there are a lot of interesting things to see, in addition to being known as one of Europe’s “party cities”.
Budapest is also famous for its thermal bathhouse culture. People of all ages frequent these baths and some people go as frequently as a few times a week! I had enjoyed my experience back in Baden Baden and was eager to go again. Like in Baden Baden, Budapest had a few different options, but Ingrid strongly recommended Gellert Spa. Gellert was a lot more crowded than Caracalla in Baden Baden, but I guess that is to be expected, as the city of Budapest has over 1.7 million people! Gellert also required all guests to wear bathing suits, as opposed to Caracalla where the clientele either wore a towel or nothing at all!
I enjoyed my time there, alternating between the hot and cold tubs as well as spending some time in the 95 degree Celsius sweat rooms. Time flew by, and before I knew it, several hours had passed. I wish that the U.S. would adopt the European bath culture, as it is a great stress reliever as well as beneficial to a person’s physical well-being. Alas, I don’t foresee it ever catching on.
Sights of Budapest
Budapest has quite a few museums and famous sights. As some of them were quite pricey for foreigners, (I’m looking at you, Hungarian Parliament Building), and I was getting a bit tired of touring European famous buildings and museums, I chose to appreciate some of the sites from their exterior only.
The Hungarian Parliament Building, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, and Great Market Hall, are some of the more famous sites that dot the Budapest skyline. Another interesting fact about Budapest is that there are two separate parts, referred to as the “Buda” and “Pest” sides and divided by the Danube River.
I also was able to have a few langos, which is a traditional Hungarian pastry consisting of fried dough with sour cream. A multitude of toppings can be added to langos, but the aforementioned one is the original. I also was able to try a Palinka shot, which is a Hungarian brandy that can be made from a different number of fruits. Let’s just say that I will not be drinking it ever again.
Budapest Night Life
Like I mentioned before, Budapest is known for being a big party city. The most famous parties are held at the bath houses on Saturday evenings during the summer months. Unfortunately, because they are so famous, they sell out far in advance, so I wasn’t able to get a ticket.
Also unique to Budapest are the “ruins bars”. These bars, only opened up in the last 15 years or so, are all located in buildings that were deemed uninhabitable after World War II and were left to decay. They can be found in the Jewish Quarter and are known as the hippest bars around. I mean, who doesn’t want to party in a old decayed building? We went to Szimpla Kert, which is supposed to be the biggest and most popular of the ruins bars. While it was fun, other than the building itself, it was pretty similar to most bars, with tables and chairs and popular music loudly playing. It is still worth checking out if you happen to be in Budapest and be in the party mood.
Another night, Ingrid and Lino took me out to some of their favorite nightlife places, including a couple rooftop bars. I wish I remembered some of the names of the places, but I sadly do not. Hungarians sure know how to party!
All in all, I greatly enjoyed Budapest, and was glad that I was able to squeeze it in on my way to Croatia!