Did you know that Budapest Hungary is made up of two totally separate towns called Buda & Pest? Let’s start there shall we. I had NO idea they were separate until a week before going, when a friend told me.
Not only are they 2 distinctly separate towns, they are environmentally separated by the Danube River, and Buda holds most of the city and is flat, whereas Pest has most of the greenery and some hills. If I could recommend a place to stay, I’d tell you Buda.
The plan was to meet up with Morgan a friend I met when I was stationed in Norfolk Virginia who is now stationed onboard a french warship out of Toulon, France. The beauty of both being stationed out of Europe, we can meet anytime anywhere.
I also convinced Sherrie to join (There wasn’t much convincing needed) and she and I decided to fly in Thursday night and would need a place to stay because the check-in for the air bnb place didn’t begin until Friday morning.
Ol’ Sherrie pulled through on this one. She found us a place at the Best Choice Hostel Budapest which was really nice, exactly what we needed for a late night arrival, and cost 22 euro total for the both us for the night. We arrived after midnight and were ready to crash right away because it was late and we had both worked that day.
The hostel is actually really nice and I definitely recommend it. Our room was clean and tidy, our sheets were clean, and the common areas, kitchen and bathroom were also very well kept. Plus, did I mention it’s right in downtown? So yeah, definitely a place you want to stay if you are looking for cheap, affordable, clean, place that’s in the center of town. You’re welcome.
Our room at the Best Choice Hostel, even had shelving inside of our racks! Guess what else? When we woke up in the morning, showered and got ready for the day, we realized that our walk to the air bnb place was less than 5 minutes. Heading over to Vorosmarty Square we decided to weave in and out of the shops and get some food.
I ended up with a leather back pack and Sherrie decided on a bread bowl full of goulash. She’s been a bit under the weather after a work trip to Africa and a bacterial infection. Let’s just say the Hungarian foods are a bit on the harsher side so she was a huge champ this weekend.
At the Vorosmarty Square markets you can find local hungarian food, crafts, bags, and of course scarves and gloves, it was still quite chilly in Hungary even at the beginning of April.
After checking into our place and setting up shop, we decided that we would go to one of the free walking tours, Budapest. There were a few options and we chose the communist walking tour. I highly recommend a free walking tour offered in any European city.
For 1, its free, you can meet people to hang out with later in the evening if you are traveling alone, and you can learn a lot about a city which will give you other ides for things to do if you have more time another day.
All of the tours started from Vorosmarty Square (lucky us) and walking to the statue in the square, we signed in and waited to begin. Heading off, this was our first stop, to hear a brief history about Hungarian commusism.
Here’s a link to a more depth look at Hungary Communism.
Meandering through the streets we ended right next to the Parliament building, listening to the plight of Imre Nagy and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
After the tour ended, but before we headed back to our place, they took us to a Ruin bar (more about these later) and showed us some paraphenalia when Hungary was a communist country.
Red vs. Blue, a red passport allowed Hungarians to travel freely… to any other communist country, while the blue passport allowed you to travel to the world but only with an approved visa, which sometimes took years to process.
After a beer and mulling over times past, I caused a rucus in true fashion and Sherrie was just crazy enough to bite. I told her about a picture I had seen on instagram from @Natgeo of the Parliament building, but it was from across the Danube River.
Sherrie immediately agreed to go and we were off. Crossing from Buda to Pest we realized the sun was setting too quickly and we were going to have to make a run for it.
I’m glad we did because it was worth it!
Then walking back we stopped to get some street food and headed back to our apartment before heading to the ruin bar block, so we could check out one of the most popular bars called Szimpla Kert over by the Old Jewish Quarter and the Great Synagogue.
Romkocsma, in Hungarian translates to ruin bar. After Nazi Germany rule during WWII and Hungarian Communism under Stalin, the city was left with some very poorly managed and run down buildings, that definitely were below fixer upper status. And a genius plan was hatched.
Negotiate little to no rent fees and turn these rundown buildings into the biggest drinking area for tourism in Budapest. And so, Romkocsma was born, Szimpla Kert is the most well known of all of them.
We waited to get in for over a half hour sharing drinks with a bachelorette party from the UK. The wait is worth it. Once inside there is much to take in. All of the walls and furniture look like pieces from a dumpster and give quite an eccentric flare.
After buying a drink at the bar, Sherrie and I found ourselves wondering upstairs to sit at one of the unsteady tables to relax and chat.
A recommendation from our air bnb host brought us to this bookstore/cafe, just past the Opera house on the right hand side of the street. Opening at 10:00 we were at bookstore Alexandra, taking the escalator to the second floor cafe. We were recommended to go there because it’s beautiful, because the foods good, the chairs comfy, and just look at the place.
As the HQ for Nazi Germany during WWII many terrible things have happened in this house and many people were tortured and killed in the walls in the basement.
It’s not a pleasant place but its full of history and also serves as a monument to remember all of the victim’s that have passed through here.
After walking through the house, we headed back down the street toward Vorosmarty Square where we dipped into the Opera house just for a second because we had an important date to meet up with Morgan and didn’t want to be late!
At the opera house there are plenty of shows for you to catch, but if you would just like a quick tour and to watch the singers warm up then you can buy a ticket for one of the daily tours at 1500 or 1600 in the Opera House gift shop.
Its an extra 2 euro for a wrist bracelet that lets you take photos during the tour.
At this point running back to Voromsarty Square we were able to meet up with Morgan, drop her stuff off at the apartment, freshen up, and off we were again buying more street food and on our way through the city center, past the Great Synagogue and the National Museum to the Great Market.
Leaving the Great Market we crossed the Freedom bridge to Pest and paid the 2 euro to take the funicular to the top of the hill, walk past the National Museum (there’s 2 locations in Budapest) and walk down to the Matthias Church & Fisherman Bastion.
As we walked down the walls we ended at the Fisherman’s Bastion before heading back to the funicular, instead of taking the ride back down, we walked, stopping at a cafe along the way for drinks and to catch up. Its very fun listening to Morgan tell stories about her time onboard the French Warship.
By the time we reached Buda and Vorosmarty Square a little tipsy we didn’t have much time to get ready for our galla event dinner. I say galla event because it’s probably the most money I’ve ever spent on a meal and it cost more than the plane ticket and 3 night stay in Hungary combined. eeeee!
This is all I will say in response to that. YOLO. Our dinner was at Onyx right off of Vorosmarty square and a quick 5 minute walk. Our choice for the evening was the Hungarian Tasting Menu, you can’t go wrong here. I had 7 dishes, fine wine with each one, and the food was to die for.
It was a night of toasting, of having some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, finished with a chocolate desert. And to enjoy it with these fine women, what a night!
Afterwards we did what any respectable ladies would do, found ourselves hulled up in a shisha bar smoking hookah with beers. At this point very tipsy from our drinks during the day and our 7 glasses of wine at dinner.
We definitely wanted to head to another bar afterwards, but it had grown so late it was already 01:00 and I knew the line at the ruin bars would be forever long and so after contemplating things, these ladies went back to our beds.
In the morning it was very hard to wake up which makes me really happy we didn’t stay out later but a Sherrie Bomb did the trick and after she shoved us out of bed we grabbed a taxi to Szechenyi Thermal baths.
Turns out they have big night parties, there which is a bit of a tourist trap, but we had considered going to the bath party, until our hungarian food tasting dinner lasted until almost midnight.
One more trip to Vorosmarty Square where we pulled all the stops and ordered way to much food then we could handle. And of course stopped for a puppet show along the way, all in Hungarian.
All kinds of food. The perfect solution, a food coma right before Sherrie and I were to head back to the airport to catch our flight back to Naples. Morgan would be staying another day but we only had 3 days off not 4.
Which is where I will leave you.
At the end of our trip to Budapest.
My biggest piece of advice to you, is that a double decker bus tour is not necessary. We were easily able to walk throughout the entire city without any problems. I still have only recommended a double decker bus tour twice, Barcelona & London.
What did you enjoy most about your trip to Budapest or have you ever dreamed about visiting. One of my favorite stops in Europe so far.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.