I’m gonna continue showing off my American ignorance and mention that I had no idea Budapest was the combination of twin cities Buda and Pest (pronounced pesht, not like bug or pest) to form Budapest in 1873. They’re split in between with the Danube river running between them, and the Buda part is elevated on a hill, whereas Pest is all flatland. So it really has two personalities in just one city, which I thought was fascinating.
And maybe because of this dissonance, I found Budapest to feel a little smaller than its actual size. Or maybe the public transportation system of metro, buses, and trams pulled everything together really well. Whatever the reason, I feel like I have Budapest and Brugge as my two favorite cities from this trip.
First off, there is the matter of having to deal with another currency, as Hungary currently still uses the Forint, and while they are a member of the EU, their economy is still too small relative to other members of the EEC to use the Euro. So 1 USD = ~280 Forint. Which was really weird because I was dealing with thousands of Forints, but the conversion rate brings all that way down. And conversion rates aside, everything was pretty damn cheap in Hungary, at least coming from US spending power.
Another thing I already miss from Budapest is the food. Omg the food. They’ve a goulash which is more soup than stew, but tasted absolutely delicious. Then there’s another dish from which I’m guessing through online sleuthing is called pörkölt, which is another simple dish of meat stew eaten with noodles (or dumpling, depending on who you ask). The main delicious ingredient in most Hungarian foods is paprika, and it provides a delicious boost of flavor to everything, especially in combination with meat/umami flavor. The one I had was from a cafeteria type setting, which I’m sure contributed to the lower price paid versus tourist trap destinations. But so good.
Other delicious treats I had in Budapest include Kürtőskalács, which is a spit cake or chimney cake. The dough is continually wrapped around the spit and baked, and in Budapest, they kept it simple with just one topping for flavor. It was kinda like a churro, but not really. I also saw it in Prague, but a little more fancy than the ones I had in Budapest.
Another city, another walking tour (or two). One was to get a general lay of the land and to be introduced to Budapest, and the second was through the remains of Communist influence on Budapest. Our general tour took us walking from the flat part of Pest all the way up to the hilly section of Buda. Which actually wasn’t too bad. Also, something I found quite refreshing was that Bratislava and Budapest had fountains the provided drinkable water. Not like boring old drinking fountains that we have, but actual fancy fountains, but there was a constant stream of water you could use to refill your water. Good stuff.
For some reason, it took me til I reached Budapest to remember about doing nighttime photography. This is where traveling solo really works well, as it gave all the time in the world in any location I want to camp and wait, and gave me the flexibility to just get up and go to another spot in the city for another vantage point. It’s hard to have all the manual control I want when shooting with a point & shoot, but I think I did alright. I did wish I had a remote control to activate bulb mode, but that’s a note for future travels I suppose. My best shot here I think was just okay, but I’ll take it.
I just happened to be leaving right as something called Sziget Festival was starting up, which to my understanding is kinda like Coachella, but has acts beyond just music, and is held on a freaking island for an entire week. Damn. The people that I shared a room with at the hostel were folks from England who’re in town early for it. And were pretty incredulous that I’ve been all around Europe but haven’t hit London yet. It’s on the list.
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