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The Ghosts of Budapest Past

overcast 28 °C
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"Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies." - W. L. George

Foodie moment

After our epic walking tour, our guide recommended a local restaurant where we could get an authentic Hungarian lunch set menu. For 10 Euro we got to try traditional Goulash Soup, Paprika Chicken with dumplings and local beer. It was all really nice, and the strange tiny dumplings are starting to grow on me!


Cultural moment

Apparently drinking in public places in illegal in Budapest, but this doesn't seem to be upheld at all. As seen on a Thursday night in the central square of the city, every spare bench and square of grass has a group of young people sitting on it with bottles of vodka or wine and plastic cups. This seems like a completely normal thing to do on each warm weekend night.


Wow moment

Today we visited the Opera House of Budapest. Apparently the architect was told they were not allowed to make it as impressive and grand looking as the famous opera house in Vienna (part of the same kingdom at the time), so he begrudgingly did this on the outside but considering he was given no restrictions on how the inside should look he made it considerably more opulent and beautiful than its Viennese counterpart.


We also hiked up the hill in Buda to visit the castle/palace. This is in fact a former palace, and is not showing any of its former glory. This is because during WW2 it was completely destroyed, after WW2 Budapest was under Soviet rule so it was rebuilt it in typical soviet style...boring!


The chain bridge was the first bridge to cross the Danube between Buda and Pest. Before it was built the only way to cross between the two sides of the city was by boat, or by foot when the river was frozen, but don't get stuck on the wrong side when it melted or you could get stuck for a long time!


When I spotted a flyer for a ghost tour, I jumped at an opportunity to make up to Mark for the failings of Dracula's castle. We knew we were in for an experience when we first spotted our guide, a man dressed in a black hooded cloak with his face painted white standing frozen staring creepily at passers by. What followed was a walking tour filled with very entertaining stories, with some occasional jumpy moments. Did he use cheap tricks to make us scream (like speaking in a whisper then shouting at the climax of the story)? Yes, he did. Were his stories true? Most likely not entirely honest. Was it a fun way to spend a night? Sure was. Mark got some special treatment during one of the stories were about the curse the witches put on anyone who built on the hill of Buda ("Don't build on the hill! We will crush you, We will crush you!!!!). No Hungarian's ever have built there, but the Austrian empire did, and the soviets did too, and as our guide said "Where are they now?".


What we learnt today

Firstly, one of the most interesting facts was that all tourist attractions and monuments in Budapest are rebuilt replicas of the original monuments, this is because Budapest was basically flattened by Allied bombing during WW2.


Budapest is split through the middle by the famous river Danube. On one side of the river is the hilly Buda side, which was often seen as the more wealthy side. The flat side of the river is called Pest, and was generally the place for trading, and therefore more working class. Not sure if these divisions are still true, but people certainly do make a big deal of being from Buda rather than Pest.


Hungary has had a pretty bad run of it as a country, and most of their problems have been due to aligning themselves with the wrong people/countries. In WW1 they were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, therefore aligning themselves with the Germans. Later in their history, they accepted the offer of help from the leader of Germany, otherwise known as Adolf Hitler, to help get back some of their power and lost territories. This was all good, until the favour was called back in and they were once again aligned with Germany in a World War.

Posted by travellinglise 10:30 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest Comments (0)

Boiling in Budapest

sunny 35 °C
View Euro trip 2013 on travellinglise's travel map.

"I love travelling in a sleeper on a night train. You just go to bed, and wake up and you're in another country! Only way to travel!!" - Lisa

Foodie moment

On a recommendation from Trip Advisor, we went to a cafe called Suelto Cafe and Grill.. We ordered some not very traditional Hungarian but delicious, comfort food; a bacon cheese burger and chicken quesadilla.


Then for dinner we went to a local pub and had some actual traditional Hungarian food. We ordered beef stew with dumplings and garlic chicken. Traditional Hungarian dumplings are not the type of dumplings we normally think of, they are more like a grated pasta thing, delicious never the less.


Cultural moment

There is an island in the middle of the Danube river known as Margaret Island and on it is a pretty spectacular musical fountain. Around it, the locals sit with their feet in the water and wait for the show to start. We were lucky enough to nab a couple of the remaining chairs to watch the show. There were two pieces of music, one modern and the other classical that were played over loud speakers while the fountain put on an aquatic show with jets, bubbles and mists of water that shot out in time with the music. It was really awesome to watch and refreshing getting sprays of water because of the intensely hot weather.


Wow moment

Budapest, being quite a big city, has a lot of amazing sites to visit. The first one we saw today was the Great Market Hall. It has multiple levels which include meats, vegetables, clothing, souvenirs and traditionally cooked foods.


The next site we visited was the Dohany Street Synagogue, which displays some very impressive architecture. We didn't go in however as there was an entrance fee.


Finally, we hiked through the previously mentioned Margaret Island. Other than the fountain, it is filled with gardens, old ruins, swimming pools and touristy things like being able to rent pedal cars, which we actually did. Due to our strict budget, we opted for the cheapest car and therefore the hardest to pedal car. It was a little retro car, and had the worst suspension ever! We had a time limit of 30 minutes and got to the far end of the island in 20. So we had our work cut out for us on the trip back, but with a lot of hard work and sweat, we made it back right on time!


What we learnt today

What we learnt today is actually from the experiences of the night before. We had a long trip over to Budapest from Brasov and the best way to get there was via train. The trip is around 14 hours, so we opted once more for a night sleeper. Learning from our experiences in Spain, we splashed out a bit extra for our own private cabin and we are glad we did! It was an amazing experience to have a glass of wine while watching the Transylvanian countryside wizz by illuminated by the glow of a full moon. We even had our private en-suite with an (unfortunately) non functioning shower!


Posted by travellinglise 09:24 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest Comments (0)

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