Budapest, Hungary

Once Buda and Pest
Two cities merged together
To make Budapest

Buda

Buda, as viewed from Pest

Pest

Pest, as viewed from Buda


Budapest metro
Oldest on the continent
Don’t try to cheat them

Oktagon

Our favorite station on Budapest's original metro line

Budapest Metro

The metro staff enforce that everyone validates their ticket on entering the station, in addition to performing spot checks on trams and at exits - diligent!


Forty four letters –
Not a language we can hope
To learn in four days

Budapest train station

At the train station

Budapest Summary

Four nights: Sunday, June 3 to Thursday, June 7

Traveling through Eastern Europe has been interesting, especially with respect to twentieth century history (WWI, WWII, Communism, Post-Communism). While visiting Budapest, this history with respect to Hungary has seemed quite vivid. In a nutshell: By 1896, Hungary was celebrating its millennial anniversary and enjoying good times sitting on top of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then WWI came along and Hungary lost 2/3 of its territory. This was followed by WWII, resulting in oppression under the Nazi-controlled Arrow Cross government. This was followed by post-WWII oppression under the Soviets. Following the collapse of Communism in 1989, things have been improving and Hungary has been part of the EU since 1994. Overall though, the twentieth century was pretty rough for Hungary.

During our visit, we spent a lot of time wandering around the city, on foot and via subway. This was a pretty pleasant activity since Budapest is the most scenic large city we’ve seen so far on our trip. I was even thinking to myself that this is what I had expected Vienna to look like (no offense, Vienna). The city was composed of elegant buildings, large boulevards, leafy squares and impressive bridges spanning the Danube. Overall, it just felt good being in Budapest.

 

In terms of sights, there was a lot to potentially do and four nights didn’t really give us enough time to soak it all in. We spent some time around Heroes’ Square and City Park, including the site of Vajdahunyad Castle with reproduced famous buildings from across Hungary. During a walking tour around the city, we visited Castle Hill and had some good views of the city. On another occasion, we visited the House of Terror, which extensively detailed the decades of oppression under the Nazi Arrow Cross and Communist regimes. Finally, we caught an early 20th century photography exhibit at the Museum of FIne Arts. Overall, we could have spent more time here.

Food-wise, we did sample a few Hungarian specialties (though strangely, no goulash!). We visited the Great Market Hall one day and ate some lángos (fried bread with toppings, in this case sour cream, cheese and ham). For dinner one evening, I enjoyed a nice beef tenderloin Hungarian-style (i.e. topped with fried goose liver). Finally, on our walking tour, we stopped at a pastry shop which specialized in strudel. While the cottage cheese with sour cherry, apricot and apple with poppy seed strudels were nice, my favorite was the savory cabbage strudel. Nomz!