Budapest was by far the most exotic looking place I have visited thus far while being abroad. The city looks as if it came from a storybook in a different time period, everything is so ornate and beautifully painted and placed just where it should be. At night, the city is lit up and looks even more breathtaking. Our hostel was on the Pest side, the Danube River separates Buda and multiple bridges throughout the city connect Pest to it.
It seemed as if Budapest was from another world at times, the language is so hard to decipher it is nothing like a romance language and the currency is different. The forint (HUF) is worth less than the Euro and 1000 FT is worth 19 Euro. This made buying souvenirs fun and worth it though, since things are cheaper than in Dublin. We visited Buda Castle, which is a ruin since World War II but the President’s house is in the center of that area as well as the National Art Gallery and the Hungarian Museum of History, which we visited.
The statues in front of the museums and in the square told stories and were full of intricate detail. The square is where we found some souvenir stands, including the infamous “Secret Boxes” that are all over Budapest. Opening them is tricky and the vendors were happy to show us, there was also a homemade glass vendor that had clocks and plates made with amazing colors that wound together. Our favorite stand was probably the Kürtöskalács stand; these are Hungarian funnel cakes, or Chimney Cakes. They are made individually by wrapping dough around a wooden spindle that cooks them and then they are dipped in different seasonings, such as vanilla or cinnamon. Our group frequented these stands; they were everywhere and so cheap, definitely worth trying. We also went to a restaurant called “Trofea Grill Etterem” that has a 20-euro all you can eat and drink deal, the food was exquisite and the restaurant was very classy. We had our fair share of Goulash, Venison and many other authentic dishes as well as the house wine and beer.
A traditional hot spring bathhouse was another spot on our tourism list, the Gellert Baths specifically, with very decorative tiles and statues as well as many baths at different temperatures. It was a very relaxing and therapeutic experience, and gave us the opportunity to view the Gellert Hill as well. The Fisherman’s Bastion was another important spot to see, its name comes from the group of fishermen that was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the middle Ages. It gives you a very wide view of the entire city, as well as a great view of the Danube River, there are many corridors and stairwells and the structure itself is something out of a medieval film.
The Great Market was another must see spot in Budapest; it is a three-floor marketplace with butchers, bakers, restaurants and all kinds of vendors. We sampled Hungarian pastries and bought some gifts for our families at the local vendors. It felt great to support the local businesses there and see all the people that are locals in Budapest doing their weekly shopping; it made us feel less like tourists. Budapest was a beautiful city and I encourage anyone to go that has the chance.
Champlain College Dublin, Fall 2012
Champlain College, Class of 2014