It has taken me awhile to get around to typing this one up, but I’m pretty much settled in Austin now, so there are no more excuses. Riki had been to Budapest years ago and I have been itching to explore more of Eastern Europe since visiting Prague, Vienna and Bratislava. Another cheap EasyJet flight from Basel made this possible. That and the incredibly cheap accommodations available. A morning flight in Basel got us to Budapest in time for a pho lunch on the way to our apartment. I hadn’t done much research on Budapest, mainly relying on Riki’s memories from 10 years ago to guide the way. So I didn’t realize how huge Budapest was going to be. Budapest is the combination of the two cities, Buda and Pest, with something like 2 million people. They, along with Óbuda (Old Buda) were combined in 1872 to form Budapest. During WW2 Budapest suffered a lot of damage, especially the castle area, where the Germans were barricaded. The Germans also blew up the bridges on the Danube to slow Soviet troops. Later, when the Soviets occupied Hungary, they rounded up many Hungarians and sent them to forced labor camps. Despite officially ending Soviet military operations in 1945, the Soviets managed to leave behind a government dominated by Communists. This led to revolution in 1956 and the return of the Soviets to crush said revolution. The first free parliamentary election wasn’t held until 1990 and the last of the Soviet troops left in 1991.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Budapest’s House of Terror is a museum portraying to the horror events caused by Nazi Germany and the Soviets. As we were visiting Budapest during the anniversary to the revolution, the museum was free.
- Riding the old trams. Budapest has an affordable 5 day pass which let us on buses, metro, trams and even boats. We partook in all.
- Parliament at night, and from the water (via public boat). The changing of the guard was also interesting though just a coincidence we saw that.
- Cheap restaurants. We ate as many types of food as we could and only had one meal that wasn’t great. Vietnamese, Turkish, Italian, American, Tex Mex, Thai, English, Indian, and of course Hungarian.
- Walking St Margaret’s Island. A really nice park which I imagine to be even nicer when flowers are in bloom.
- Kerepesi Cemetery was amazing. Way in the back the graves are a bit overgrown. There is a really interesting old hearse in the front of the cemetery with a video in English.
Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park and Heroe’s Square. There was a festival by the castle when we were there with lots of food and seemed to be medieval themed.
- Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias church and castle hill is a must see. We went multiple times as the views are amazing both during the day and at night.
Budapest was a great place to visit. According to Riki, it has changed drastically in the last 10 years. It has plenty to offer for cuisine and culture and an equally fascinating history to go along with it all.