Love From, Budapest.

Budget friendly cider, cheap wine and old wet people. Budapest is growing to be a popular holiday destination for the culture seekers, the history nerds, the stags, the hens and the city breakers. We wanted it all. And we only had 4 days.
Budapest oozes personality. It has a fascinating, old war filled history that has left marks and influenced the city’s architecture. In 1873 the three districts, Buda, Obuda and Pest united as one and became a thriving city. Despite battling civil wars, German occupation in WWII and communist regimes pushed by Russia, the city now offers great tours, museums, walks up the great green Buda hills, tranquil islands and a jumping night-life.

Let’s just get it out there-4 days is not enough! Budapest could have kept me for another week. We relied on travel books, maps and google to give us the agenda for the day, my advice would be set out with a plan and know how you're getting there. Budapest is a huge city with each district catering for a varied amount so read up and plan out. We roamed the Pest side of the city first, getting use to our surroundings and while we were dodging the speedy segways and bikes, it didn’t take us long to find a bar by the Danube river. With glass bottled strongbow and cheap wine, we christened Raqpart our local. The food was your average pub food, cheaper than Spoons and offered sweet potato fries while looking out onto the Danube river next to the Chain Bridge. It is open till 4 on some nights where the lights go down, music turned up and the fire lamps are lit up. It made a great half-way point between the Pest and Buda side. Before strolling along the Chain Bridge to Buda we could refuel there. Keeping to the same Metro line to avoid getting lost we made Deåk Ferenc Ter our starting point but shops and restaurants proved to be at the higher end (apart from our river side watering hole). I would suggest heading towards the Jewish District where a strip of cheaper bars, nightclubs and eateries are on offer. Nestled within these quarters are the famous ruin pubs which are a must see! But more on them in another post, I was first taken aback by the Hungarian past- something not overly spoken of. While walking through the city, the history started to unveil itself to me and it became apparent there was a story to be told on every street.

Buda side
Budapest Parliament

The iconic Parliament buildings dominates the riverside view and the boat tour along the Danube we took gave us a history lesson in the architecture of the city. After WWII a lot of the city had to be built up again and much of the buildings were influenced by Russia. On the Buda side colourful turrets stretches up into the sky, overlooking the luscious green Buda hills which contrasts from the concrete grey-scale soviet-like blocks and wide streets on the Pest side. Throughout the city, the bullet scarred buildings of Budapest is a testament to it’s hardship and dictator-led past. While the juxtaposing buildings echos the history of conflict that the city had to endure, strong high arches and iron railing balconies still stand. It is a city of resilience. This was made even more clear to me at the Haus of Terre (House of Terror museum) that is an interactive exhibition, using the building where merciless torture took place, telling the story of Budapest’s trialling history from WWII’s execution of the Hungarian Jews to the 19 day revolution in 1956. The revolution was driven by civilians fighting against the soviet oppression, men, young boys, children, stood in the street with guns ready to fight back. It started as a student rally but with the atmosphere of threat in the air, soviet tanks burst in and forced Hungarians back into submission, leading to the killing of 2500 Hungarians and 700 soviet troops. Only in 1989 it became a democratic republic state. After I left the museum I had grown a large amount of respect for the country. The city offers so much culture and entertainment, it thrives and lives on no matter what it’s given.

Despite having a strong transport system of metros, trams and buses, we walked an exceptional amount around the city, making sure we wouldn’t miss any views as well as soaking up the sun. Outdoor thermal baths are popular in Budapest and we made our way to the Buda side. With our city cards (bought at the airport), we were offered free entry to St Lukas Baths. It should be noted that these travel cards are very useful and can save you money on public transport as well as tons of discounts throughout the city. Using our map, we were greeted by an oasis of trees, fountains and plants. Until we walked into the building.

There was no 'fountain of youth in sight'.

It appeared we had packed our bikinis for a retirement spa. Great if you're over 70 and looking to relax with other over 70's... but that's not quite what we had imagined on this girls holiday. Only after we had got changed into our little swimwear, did we realise our mistake. Uncomfortable is an understatement and we quickly shoved our clothes back on and took a stroll by the river instead.

Looking over palace gardens

Keeping to discovering the main landmarks in Budapest, we ventured up the hills of Buda to the Palace, where one building was closed off because their Prime Minister was having an important meeting. Black cars with the Hungarian flag closed off the section and allowed us to wonder round the Palace grounds. Proudly looking over the city, the sun was shining, glistening on the river. While there was a tram to take us up to the Palace, the walk down allowed us to take a walk in the Palace gardens and appreciate the historic walls. I’d suggest taking comfortable shoes because walking is the best way to see the most of the city but as our legs became heavy, we retired for the night to our local riverside bar again. With a portion of fries and a crisp cheap cider, we planned for night out, and our search for an instagrammable thermal bath continued.

Hungary uses the currency Forint (known as Hungarian Forint "HUF" elsewhere) which is a bit confusing when trying to convert but after changing my pounds in M&S, they gave me a handy conversion guide. It took us a bit of time looking at price lists, figuring out how much we had actually spent in just one day. For any holiday I would suggest always taking more than you need in case of emergencies or in our case-getting a 8000F (£24) transport fine in the middle of the street-for trying to sneak onto a tram without a pass...

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