I once heard that to really get the most out of life you need to do something every day to challenge yourself. For me, travelling toBudapestmeant getting out of my comfort zone. I have travelled quite a lot in my days, but all my traveling has taken place in countries where I, at least to some extent, speak or understand the local language. Hungarian, however, is not one of those languages!
Getting fromSwedentoHungarywent smoothly, getting from the airport to the city centre was a different story! It took three attempts before we finally got on the bus from the airport (First, the answer was “No, we do not take VISA” and then after having looked for an ATM and returned to make a second attempt to buy tickets for the bus we were met by a “Sorry, no change”) So, word from the wise: buy your bus ticket from the newspaper stand outside the arrivals hall at the airport and save yourself a lot of trouble! They take VISA. The, “Sorry, no change” became one of the most common lines during our stay inBudapestwhen we tried to pay with our recently collected ATM bills…
The first night we climbed the hill up to the citadel, it looked far but it only took us 10 minutes of power walking from Hotel Gellért to the top of the hill. The reward: an awesome view ofBudapestby night. We also visited the Great Market Hall one morning, but I must say that I am not really one to appreciate places like these when I am a tourist. A food market is a food market whether it is inFrance,SpainorHungary, and if I am not looking to buy food then my time is better spent elsewhere.
We made one big mistake when packing for our weekend inBudapest: we figured going south meant going to a warmer climate. BIG MISTAKE! The weather resembled Gothenburg’s weather which meant that we were constantly a little bit on the cold side which is not ideal when most of your time is spent outdoors. Being there late November did, however, mean that we had the fortune of visitingBudapestwhen it was a city decorated for the upcoming Christmas season. If this is also the case for you when/if you go there then let me suggest that you climb the castle hill in the afternoon, buy yourself a cup of glühwein and place yourself facing the Danube in time for the evening to arrive so that you stand there when the city lights are lit. It’s a beautiful scene!
Another beautiful place to visit is the St Stephen’s Basilica. Those of you who have read my blog before know that I am a little bit of a sucker for Basilicas – and this one made it into my top three! Another recurring topic is usually crêpes, I never had a crêpes inBudapestthough, but here they sell something else in the streets that you should definitely try while you are there: kürtöskalács (a.k.a. chimney cake). It’s kind of a cinnamon bun. Delicious! And a perfect snack for a cold Swede to eat while sightseeing.
Budapest has become a very popular destination for Swedish people to go on for a weekend abroad and it became painfully obvious during our stay. Everywhere we went we heard Swedish being spoken and in some stores they even sold Christmas decorations with “God Jul” written on them, granted my Hungarian is limited but somehow I doubt that that is the way they say Merry Christmas. I cannot blame the other Swedes for wanting to visitBudapestthough. For each day spent there I liked it more and more. It is a beautiful city, the people are very friendly (It’s amazing how far you can come with speaking your own language combined with hand movements, a smile and a finishing Köszönöm) and the food and drinks are cheap. (The exchange rate at the moment is 3000 HUF for 100 SEK and we bought breakfast in the form of a large baguette with cheese and ham and a cappuccino for 500 HUF – I wouldn’t even get a large size Cappuccino for that in a Swedish Café). I am looking forward to returning some day during the spring season to also see and experience the city in bloom.