City stretching along side of the river Danube, Budapest has a taste to offer for everybody. You can choose to have a week long sightseeing tour and still won’t have enough time to visit everything. Or you can dive into the vivid night life, with backpackers crawling around popular Ruin bars till the sun shines high.
Our mission this time for Budapest was just to stay for two nights, give high fives to our friends and leave to see other parts of Hungary. But as the days carried into night, we understood that we need more time to absorb this city and do the things that remained undone last year. So our city high-lights for this time were:
The Foundation of Hungary Celebration
On 20th of August (yes, same day as blue-black-white flags wave in Estonia), Hungary celebrates their Foundation Day with a huge blast of fireworks set off over the Danube River. The excitement fills the street as people all over the down start gathering early at night around the river banks to get the best seats in the house. At 9 PM precisely sky is filled with sparkling colors, loud bangs and clouds of smoke, as the three cargo ships and the main bridge starts shooting off the fireworks for next 20 minutes. It is all accompanied with trilled shouts coming from the attendees standing nearby. This was truly a very “Hungarian” experience as we were also preparing and gathering for the event some time before and searched for a best place to view at the Citadel. After the blasts, we of course had to celebrate it like locals, heading out to ruin bars for some Fröccs.
Surprisingly not so popular visiting place by tourist but more travelled daily bases by locals, Janos Hill is the highest point of Budapest and worth to go for a great panorama. On top of the hill is an Erzsébet lookout tower, built in 1910, that lets you peek over the tree tops and get some proper pictures taken. But the viewpoint is definitely a must visit also because of the hiking trails, Pioneers Railway and for some best Retes in the town. Just jump on the bus number 291 from Nyugati Railway Station and drive to the last stop. You can choose to conquer the top of the hill by chairlift (350 HUF) or by foot.
Retes are available on near the entrance of Budda Hills and sold from small wooden kiosk.
Gyermekvasút aka Pioneers Railway
So once in the hills walk on the trails till you come across with railway and follow the path alongside the tracks till you get to a small train station. This is your way to ride a real train operated by children. Gyermekvasut was built after a WW II and gave first jobs for the best pioneer kids out there. Under the supervision of railway workers, kids had jobs from tickets selling to traffic management. Today still actively working railway holds its place among local children as its seemingly military like order will be a ticket into the good life. Our ticket conductor, who had looks and a feel like a stock broker, had changed his uniform for the past 12 years, to work on the trains few times in a month to be a part of the “cool kids”.
Danube River Cruise
Just sit back and relax, while cruising zig-sag across the Danube. Best way to get most out of the 400 HUF (1,28 €) you have to pay for the ride, is to walk to Millenniumi Városközpont and go on the ferry from the very first stop and sail next to Margaret’s Island for example, passing by all the most important sights on both sides of the river banks.
as they are popping up like mushrooms after the rain, no one actually knows how many of them are in the town. But one thing is certain, this is where the best parties and wildest nights are. Ruin bars are essentially pubs built into old tenement houses, factories, supposedly to be demolished, and are decorated with furniture from old cinemas, community houses and aged apartments giving them a retro feeling. Ruin bars are good just to go and mingle with friends but also be aware that some of the bars get so crowded that they turn into full blown night clubs. Ask around to know what is the hottest place to go to during your stay in Budapest.
Street Food/Drink delights
Yes- it’s a must to eat out and try everything that you cannot even pronounce. Our suggestions for the food haven would be:
Langos – a deep fried flat and fat bread traditionally topped with cheese, garlic and sour-cream. Of course if this sounds just too plain then variations with mushrooms, ham and sausages can be found. Best ones can be found from Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok).
Retes – this 200 HUF delight you can get either sour our sweet and is similar to the pastry strudel. In Hungary the must try fillings are cottage cheese and poppy seeds. For sour taste go for the sauerkraut.
Fröccs – wine with water and oh so much more…. When we call it spritzer the Hungarians call it Fröccs and there is all science about it how to order it. Besides just knowing what kind of wine you would like to get in your drink, you also have to know how much water each of the cocktail consists of. Our drink of choice was viceházmester. Here is a cheat sheet for the next time.
Teperto – or pork fat cracklings, that are deep-fried and sold like snacks by kilo in the market.
Szalonna – how does a fat bread sound? Well try some szalonna or bacon fat that it drizzled over soft white bread and flavored with onions. Can be found from the market or over the counter at some of the Ruin bars.
Our stay from 2 nights had stretched to 4 nights all together and would have stretched even longer if we only would have had more time. Budapest is purely just great!
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