“There are only two types of people who stay in Budapest; the ones who stay on the Buda side and the other who want to stay on the Buda side” said Eva, my Hungarian friend and we shared a hearty laugh over it. It’s funny but true, unlike any metropolitan city the hilly Buda happens to be the affluent side with the castle of the royal ottoman family, while Pest was for the peasants.
Hungary is a land locked European country in the heart of Europe with Budapest as its capital. The river danube that once divided these two towns, today stitches them together through the chain bridge, making it one hell of a cosmopolitan. Budapest was once a part of the Roman, Ottoman and Austrio-Hungarian empires where it was the imperial seat until the end of World War 1. The architecture of the city reflects the same however, is now marinated with modern age living standards that make it one of the most livable towns of Europe.
The city has the royal castle on the Buda side and the Hungarian Parliament on the Pest, as if balancing the beauty of the landscape on both sides of the Danube. The river side view, definitely makes one gasp in disbelief while absorbing the grandness they carry.
The best way to get acquainted to Hungary is simple, when in Hungary do as the Hungarians do. This being the agenda of our 6 day tour, we were all game to turn Hungarian and believe me, by the end we surely did. To boost the quality of our trip we checked in one of Budapest’s best hotels, Hotel Gellert. Though the hotel was a little steep, every bit of it was worth the money. Also that the package comes with spa and bath facilities, hence making it worth every buck spent. We stayed in the hotel for 3 days as that’s the dent we could afford 🙂
While we recommend the hotel, there are a plethora of other decent hotels and Air BnBs on the Pest side. For the remaining days of our trip we stayed at the Hive Party Hostel which was equally amazing. for 6 days we tasted both the worlds of the Hungarian capital, the luxurious and classy Buda and the crazy, young and peppy Pest.
Since the City boasts of having over 125 natural thermal springs with waters high on minerals , known for their medicinal value, we decided to soak in the natural goodness to begin with. Budapest has a culture of public baths and pools which gives an amazing sense of community building. People lazying, playing like kids, enjoying a game of chess, sipping in a fresh brew; there are multiple sights one can experience in a public spring.
The Szechenyi bathhouse built in the modern renaissance style in 1913 and the Gellart spa don’t just allow you a dip in the warm waters but to soak up in history and architectural excellence. Believe us its almost like taking a swim inside a museum with so much of history and architecture around you. with your body dipped in the warm natural medicinal waters and a can of chilled Dreher, Hungarian beer you get refreshed till your bones.
There is an uncanny requirement of a good meal that you cannot resist after a dip and Hungarian food adds on to that unscrupulous desire to binge. I believe that one can forever stay hungry in Hungary not because of lack of food but because one is spoilt for choices. The chimney cake, The Goulash (Hungarian stew) and the langos are a must try. While these are some local foods of Hungary and are easily available everywhere, we recommend Cafe Molnar’s for its chimney cake and Budapest Bistro for its Goulash. The food is lip smacking and finger licking good.
After all that food we decided to walk around the city for sightseeing and surreal escapades of the town life. Starting from the Hero’s square in Pest, we went all the way up to the castle district in Buda. While the Hero’s square is memorial that houses the statues of the 7 chieftains of Magyars. These 7 Chieftains brought the Magyar tribes to Hungary making it home. There is a sense of pride and valor these monuments carry.
The two must visit museums in Budapest are the Museum of fine arts and the Hungarian National Museum. Both hold the rich history of the Country with breathtaking architecture and sculptures that depict an artistic era of Hungary that’s a must see.
Next day, Eva, my Hungarian friend took us to the Castle district via the Budavári Sikló which is a funicular railway that takes you up and down the castle district hill. The castle district consists of the Buda Castle, The Mathias Church and the Fisheran’s Baston. The Buda castle emotes luxury and power from that era and looks down upon the Pest as if in control of its region.
The appetite for more panoramic views of the city took us all the way up the Gellart hill, the highest hill on the Buda side. It is quite a walk up but believe me you would bless my soul for recommending it. The City from top of the hill looks like a jewel. Try staying till a little late and let the city lights come on, you will feel like a jewel in the crown.
Post the city tour we were about to bid Eva goodnight. “You must be joking!” she said smiling. “I am not letting you guys go before experiencing the ‘SPARTY’ and the nightlife here in Budapest”. “SPARTY?” I said with inquisitiveness. “Of course the spa parties are called sparties in Budapest. A must must do for it happens only in Hungary” she beamed with a sense of pride. By now the curiosity had killed the cat and we geared up with our towels to party Budapest style. Remember these parties are a splurge if you do not carry your on towels. When we reached there we realized that there is no better way or place to party than Budapest. The nightlife and the sparty is to die for. I recommend the Ötkert Disc and Bar in Pest. the parties here are almost close to the international parties we Indians see in movies … amazing is an understatement.
The next day was all about shopping, picking souvenirs, pub hopping for local brews, enjoying local entertainment. A trip to Hungary is incomplete if you have not tasted its beer. The Eleszto Craftbeer garden and the Hopfanatic Brew Pub are a must hops 😉
I loved the Chilli Beer (dash of paprika) and the No hop limit with over 12.5% alcohol content. They were simply delicious and gives one a happy high like never before. We told our friend Eva that we are jumping with joy to which she said “Hungarians don’t ‘jump with joy’, they say “as happy as a monkey about its tail” (Örül, mint majom a farkának)” and we all tried our hand at the saying but miserably screwed up the accent.
Our 6 day trip was coming to an end and we decided to go bask in the architectural glory of the city one last time before we bid it adieu. So we took out our cameras and roamed the city day and night to please our soul. The time spent in Hungary was inspirational, full of moments of ones reflection, sublime beauty and purification of the soul and mind.
One must definitely go to Hungary to satisfy his hunger for travel!
until next time …