It was my best mates birthday and instead of going to the pub like we normally would’ve, we decided to go to Budapest. Now, I’m not going to give you a history lesson on Hungary because if you want that you can go and look it up on Wikipedia. I’m going to give you my account of it over a 4 day period: the essence, the feel and the soulful experience, mostly by way of photography.
Let’s start with my arrival. Booked this holiday on a budget. Flight from London and back including an 4* Boutique Hotel in the centre for just £136.00. BARGAIN!
The hotel was marvellous. The bar was very easy to find and I made a point of making friends with the barman and getting myself a Vodka Martini. Always make good friends with the staff – it makes for a better experience. Thing is about Hungarians ( and can I just say that many of them are called Attila – not kidding) is that they are the nicest people I have met. They speak impeccable English and want you to be happy in their country. Before this visit I always thought that Americans were the most friendly and accommodating to visitors but these folks are pipping you at the post guys! You need to up your game. Seriously, even when I was on the street in search of a monument or such and looking at my map in that “DUH” kind of way and giving up, it would go like this:
“Err…scuse me mate, can you tell me where vsxyhhessdtuu…vsxyhd…oh sod it, I’m lost. How do I get here, to this street?”
“Oh lovely to meet you. My name is Attila. And yours?”
“Jules” (never fall for friendliness – it’s a psychopaths go to)
“Jules, welcome to Budapest!”
“Are you enjoying our country?”
“Spanking. Are you on any medication?”
“Ha ha! I love English people (yeah right, not something you hear too often) have you tried our local delicacies?”
“Is that a euphemism? Where’s the street, mate?”
“Have you tried Palinka?”
“Oh yes. The barman went on a ‘let me give you several free samples’ tack and that’s why my dulcet tones have died and I now sound like an old biddy straining for her last breath on a life support machine.”
“It’s grappa my friend and would make an excellent foot rub.”
However, I like to get into the culture and went head first into their local, 40% proof, fruit spirit.
Palinka poured – pests pissed. That’s kinda how it went.
On the subject of local alcohol, allow me to continue…
“This is one of our fabulous wines!” said the local barman at the wine bar near the Basilica.
“What are you trying to say, mate?”
“I’ll take this, thank you. More my cup of tea,” I replied.
“What about this?”
Of course, me being me, I couldn’t leave that one alone.
“So…what is this exactly?” I asked a young Hungarian girl nearby. They don’t lie.
“Oh it is a herbal liquor. Very nice into your mouth and of beneficial medicinal purposes,” she said, submissively.
Her male boss stood grinning from ear to ear in support.
“Really? That old chestnut. Listen, sweetheart, I’ll be over there at the glühwein station so on your next break, pop over and come and have a chat with me and I’ll give you some worldly woman advice, yeah?”
…..I still bought some and had it with some coke last night. She wasn’t far off point.
Anyway, my friend and I had heard of something in the vicinity called “Ruin Pubs” and well, since I’m constantly on the road to ruin….why not?
Let me tell you now these were the best thing since pour in the cup cappuccinos. The first and most coolest Ruin Pub is called Szimpla Bar and the first one to up and at it and wow like Wonderland. These are run down buildings in the Jewish quarter, an area that people never went to because it was heavily bombed in the war and turned into a bit of a dodgy dive. One day, a bright and entrepreneurial spark, decided to rent one of these vast buildings and turn it into a pub where creatives could meet. It holds theatre, live music, artists, endless bars and funky rooms. This place would never be allowed in my neck of the woods for health and safety reasons even though it’s normally the people that frequent the pubs where I live that are, in fact, the problem. The place is decorated by the people who come here with art, graffiti, old computer monitors and furniture that people bring along. There are even old cars outside to sit and have a cocktail in. I bloody LOVED it. Such a cool vibe and a real grown up Wonderland. The Jewish quarter is now the trendiest part of the city. Let me show you:
Rules….blah, blah rules…nobody cares…
View from door…
Madness! Let me in!
Live music kicking off..
I wanted to live here but that would not have been beneficial to my health. One night proved such.
After ruin, a buffet breakfast and winter tea, we decided to get cultured. A bit.
Szechenyi Thermal Spa Baths in Budapest is one of the best and largest spa baths in Europe with its 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools. From pool to pool to pool to…yeah you get the idea. It was like Roman times. Best one was outside and bubbling with people playing chess! Awesome.
Buda and Pest are separated by the Blue Danube so off we went to the old town of Buda.
Protective guards. Of course I got a picture with them. Not as hard as the Buckingham Palace guards. Just sayin’.
Now some views from Buda to Pest..
And then off to Heroes’ Square:
The Millennium Monument in the middle of the square was erected to commemorate the 1000-year-old history of the Magyars. Archangel Gabriel stands on top of the centre pillar, holding the holy crown and the double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary can be seen on the stand below. Statues of kings and other important historical figures stand on top of the colonnades on either side of the centre pillar.
When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last five spaces for statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburg emperors were replaced with Hungarian freedom fighters when the monument was rebuilt after World War II.
Time was spent at the many Christmas markets cos…well. My favourite was at St Stephens Basilica – The way, the truth and the life. You can’t have bad wine here now, can you.
The Parliament Building is the second biggest in the world, outdone only by the biggest in Romania. I waited until night time to get it in its full glory as it is lit up and incredibly magnificent…
As door lady of the world, I szimply had to take a few door shots..
And wonderful moments and experiences fly into the sky of our memories.