Today, I feel like talking about a lasting cozy feeling of an old buddy of mine. Not many cities make me feel what Budapest does. Even though I’ve been there three times (in a timespan of four years), I know it won’t be the last. It’s sort of “the one that got away” of the cities I could’ve lived in. Hell, it may still happen! I don’t like those chiclés like “the Paris of the East” and whatnot. Because Paris isn’t worth being in the same sentence as Budapest (and vice-versa). Each city is different and clearly, there are moods that you only get in Budapest.
For me, roaming around Budapest’s city center is stepping back in time. Not too much of course, but clearly, there’s a sense of the beautiful 18th and 19th centuries’ architecture, with a noticeable lack of very contemporary / modern buildings. And that’s GREAT, because otherwise this feeling would be lost. And not just on the outside. The redecorated courtyards of pubs that were converted into vibrant nightlife spots go so well with the aforementioned vibe. I’m sure that Budapest, one of the most important business hubs of Eastern Europe, has its share of financial and corporate centers. But somehow they don’t force themselves into the real soul of the city, nor spoil its “old-times charisma”.
Talking about Budapest cannot be done without mentioning the Danube river. The second-largest river in Europe is itself, an excellent source of material for travel blogging. Indeed, the Danube brightens numerous cities in Europe, but probably none like Budapest. Unlike many cities which feature two unbalanced sides of the river, I believe Budapest is the one that best that seduces equally in both margins. And for photography buffs, having one of the sides largely occupied by panoramic hills is the pièce de résistance. My only regret is that the promenades themselves should be a bit more “pedestrian-friendly” (and green!), with piers and touristic boats spoiling a bit of the riverside.
In terms of population, it’s also clear that people are split by those that had a communist-influenced lifestyle and an amazingly well-prepared young generation of individuals. They are the ones turning this city into a tourism powerhouse and, as I’ve said before, making it a business leader of the East. The balance between work and personal life shouts “freedom!” when you see the cafés, restaurants, and pubs packed with people wanting to have a good time.
Now, I’m usually an advocate for the EU as far as most issues are concerned. Lately, however, I’ve begun to see the benefits that some countries have on keeping their own currencies (like Poland and Hungary). It’s a bit hard to explain, but somehow the quality of life, and definitely tourism, would be negatively impacted if the Euro arrived (I remember Lithuania in recent times). The freshness of being able to ride the subway at record-low prices must be maintained at all costs. And with one of the prettiest lines in the world (M1, I see you!) and, in my opinion, an excellent non-overpopulated list of stations, it’s a transportation mode I recommend. Of course, if you prefer to ride on the surface, maybe you can try the tram, with number 2 being considered one of the most scenic in the world? (come on, you can’t go wrong here)
Other attractions in Budapest include:
- the Parliament, one of most amazing buildings in the world IMO, period;
- the whole Buda Hill, which encompasses the Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and the Matthias Church;
- the Városliget park, which includes the Széchenyi thermal baths (Instagrammable AF) and the picturesque and less referenced Vajdahunyad castle. It also borders the Heroes Square, which sits at the top of Andrássy út. (see below);
- St. Stephen’s Basilica (climb to the top!);
- Andrássy út., for an amazing street end to end with amazing architecture;
- Gellért Hill (for the panoramic views without compromises);
- the Széchenyi Lánchíd bridge (yes, it’s that Budapest bridge).