The Grand Budapest… Experience

After about a three hour bus ride from Vienna, Austria we arrived in Budapest, Hungary (pronounced Boo-da-PESHT). Vienna, Budapest, and Prague are three very popular destinations backpackers visit during the same trip because they are all within a few hours of each other.

As much as Vienna was interesting it just did not really give me that “oh my god” moment for some reason. Visiting Budapest had a real impact on me. It was so intriguing that it almost had some kind of magical spell on my fellow classmates and I. One of the students in my group who happened to be in his fifties said, “Budapest made me feel younger.” It is hard to explain, but the city has an impact that has you forget all your troubles and makes you feel like,”hey, life is pretty good.”

After getting settled in our hotel we took a nice walk to Hunyadi Etterem Restaurant: it was classy, authentic, and affordable. Of course, we had the beef goulash (that is the country’s signature dish), and we accompanied our meal with A LOT of tasty wine. If you are a drinker then opt out the beer and replace it with wine. After all, it is a fantastic wine country!

Signature Dish: Beef Ghoulash
Signature Dish: Beef Goulash

It is a good idea to take a stroll after a nice hearty meal like that right? Well, if you decide to have dinner at Hunyadi Etterem Restaurant then you are just a hop, skip, and a jump from the famous Fisherman’s Bastion. This place is especially enchanting at night.

Fisherman's Bastion
Fisherman’s Bastion

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My first reaction was, “Where the hell have I been?! “What is this place??!!”

I was almost angry at myself for never thinking of Budapest, Hungary before in my life!

View from Fisherman's Bastion (Hungaria Palament Building)
View from Fisherman’s Bastion (Hungarian Parliament Building)

When you are finished walking around Fisherman’s Bastion you can cross the chain bridge and arrive right back in the inner city. The city center is a bit of a tourist trap, so it’s a good idea to check out the Jewish Quarter. That is where a lot of the young artsy type of people go. It’s more affordable and pretty modernized. It has a lot of restaurants and bars to choose from. Please, please, please never eat a restaurant that offers a “tourist menu”. It is overpriced and inauthentic.

Now obviously you cannot visit Budapest without visiting (drum-roll please…..) The Széchenyi Bath Spas. Bring some soap and a fresh outfit so when you are done you do not have to go all the way back to the hotel. This complex of swimming pools is so exotic and relaxing. There are at least 30 baths with a different temperature.

Creepy and cute at the same time
Creepy and cute at the same time

I concluded my visit with Budapest by visiting the The Grand Market Hall. Come here to eat some authentic Hungarian food. Do you need souvenirs? You can get it all here! The paprika is a big staple that is produced here, so it’s a good idea to bring some home with you. Salamis, cheeses, breads oh my! If you are taking a bus or driving from Budapest to somewhere else then grab some of these delicacies for the trip. I did, and it made my trip just a little bit better.

Our resident director Jan holding a giant piece of bread from the market
Our resident director Jan holding a giant piece of bread from the market

After leaving Budapest our tour was almost over before heading back to Prague. We spent half of a day in Bratislava, Slovakia. If you decide to see the other half of the former Czechoslovakia then read my next post highlighting some of the history, food, and culture.

Budapest Information

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the hot-shot travel bloggers either have not been to Budapest or wrote very little about it. I finally found a travel blogger that wrote a very detailed post about Budapest. Check out Stuart Wadsworth Urban Travel Blog

The hotel I stayed at was City Hotel Matyas. This hotel was less than thirty dollars a night, and it was perfectly situated near the inner city. Everything was within walking distance, and the hotel was really quiet. It was really old-school too which I thought was cool.

Budapest is a pretty big city so it is a good idea to buy a transportation pass. You can usually buy them in the train stations or airports, but here is a link to the Budapest Travel Website.

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