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Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Prior to this, the cities were known as two separate parts: and Pest
Budapest, a Charming City Break
Stepping off the train from Timisoara, the eclectic-style Budapest Keleti station feels rather grand. The sheer size of it creates an air of grandeur and the frescoes by Karoly Lotz only add to that. Lush, green gardens span the exterior to continue this marvel. After picking up a coffee, I found a sunny spot to take a breather, pleasantly surprised by where I found myself.
Once here, there was ample opportunity to travel further easily. From trams to metros or even boats, there was no shortage of transport if the desire to walk had diminished.
Budapest has architecture for days, a rich culture and a vibrant nightlife. I wanted to try and sample everything but my schedule did not allow at this point as I was only passing through. The Széchenyi Baths were a real delight!
The hustle and bustle of the city hits you almost instantly, from the busy road traffic to the metro station ahead. I found it particularly useful to get my bearings on Google Maps before stepping out in to the crowds. Knowing I only had a couple of days here, I frog-marched to Liberty Bridge to admire the views. Adjacent, is the Gellért Hill Cave and Church which has a fascinating structure, be sure to pop in to fully appreciate it.
Wandering further along, I found a River Cruise with Silverline and chose the 70-minute sightseeing option. Decked out with comfortable seats and a fully equipped bar, the boat provides a comfortable atmosphere, and I was able to fully relax as I took in the sights, drink in hand. Floating along the Danube, the cruise passes many points of interest including the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
If you cannot squeeze into the most famous Art Nouveau thermals, the Gellert Baths, there is also the Széchenyi Baths, which holds the title for Europe’s largest spa complex. Now also a party hub, you may need to book in advance. It truly is stunning, and I spent the majority of my day there wallowing in its waters, lounging on a sunbed and making the most of the plunge pools. You know it’s a heatwave when even the thermal baths feel cool! If you have a Budapest Card, you can take advantage of 20% discount here.
There are several viewpoints but be aware that some of them have specific opening times so don’t hike all the way to locked gates disappointment. No matter how much you wanted to watch the sunset, I do not recommend being found somewhere you shouldn’t be… Just because there is a hole in the fence, doesn’t mean you should go through it!
Shantee House was the best hostel I have ever stayed in (so far). The staff were wonderful, engaging, and passionate. The rooms and bathrooms were clean, the kitchens were well serviced with all amenities working whilst the garden provided a relaxing oasis. Hammocks to lounge in, oversized cushions to lay on, and tables to sit at, meant that we could all spend our free time comfortably. The other travellers I met there were great and as we shared a beer or three, we recounted our adventures, swapping tips and reminiscing about our antics long in to the night.
I had stumbled on to Shantee House after refusing to stay at my first hostel. Forgive me for not remembering the name, but I walked through various neighbourhoods, to an imposing tower block covered in graffiti, rubbish strewn everywhere and crudely padlocked doors. The gentleman that answered the buzzer was rude and abrupt, wouldn’t give me any information about my booking and seemed very cagey when I was asking. I had an uneasy feeling here and, having travelled solo for a month by this point, I was trusting my instinct to run. I cannot explain it and I will never feel bad for it, but I cut my losses and left there and then. Sometimes, you just have to. Always remember, your safety comes first!
On the walk back up to my hostel, I opted for traditional plates: mixed salad, followed by pancakes stuffed with peach, walnuts, and cheese. Heaven on a plate! I didn’t record the name, sadly, but it was a lovely little bistro on a small side street with outdoor seating. My motto is try everything and wherever I go, I aim to try as many local dishes as possible. Note to self, record more details.
The following day, it was just Tutti Juice and a Nogger ice cream from the local shop, before heading on to the next leg. I can’t say I’d recommend this.
Budapest is great for a short break, but I feel you could easily spend a week here. I barely scratched the surface and want to go back to see more. The historic buildings take days in themselves to see properly, then you have hikes to venture on and spa days to book. It would take a while to get bored! Book your trip, you won’t be disappointed.