Tonight was our last night in Budapest and I have to say that so far Budapest is winning the race for best European city. We covered everything from local festivals, to local food, to parks, bath houses, palaces and a citadel. As for background info on Budapest, there is a Buda side and a Pest side with the Danube River right down the middle. Marc lives in Pest, which has a little more action going on as far as things to do, while the Buda side has beautiful hills and a palace.
We arrived on Friday night and headed right out with Marc and his friends. We ended up at a few different places, including one of the coolest bars I’ve been to. It had a ton of different rooms with different bar vibes to them, and a giant outdoor area in the middle. We moved on to a different place for some dancing, and Marc’s roommate showed off some pretty fancy steps. He lived in Moscow for two years (speaks Russian – imagine my delight!), but he definitely didn’t pick up the techno moves of Eastern Europe while he was there…
Saturday we walked EVERYWHERE on the Pest side. We hit the local market for lunch – I opted for traditional Hungarian Goulash, which was may more of a soup than the American version my parents made (no curly noodles or ground beef whatsoever – shocking, I know). After lunch we headed to the traditional hot baths. This is basically more than 20 large hot tubs in one building, ranging from super hot (40 C) to super cold (20 C). There are also three outside pools of different temperatures as well. After the (sun)bathing, we stopped for local lemonade beer (not at all like Lienenkugal) and a “rocking” American cover band. The fan base was entirely made up of Hungarians aged 75+, but man did they love the Kelly Clarkson covers! We grabbed dinner at the local music festival (Keilbasa as tall as I am!) and then just relaxed with a few more of Marc’s friends.
Sunday we headed out for the Buda side. Margaret Island is in the river between the two sides, so we started there. Turns out there was a Euro Sport Festival, so we witnessed a handball tournament and some five year olds wrestling (the little girl won – she was fierce). Margaret Island is one big park, though apparently it boasts the hottest club scene in Buda. Unfortunately, we won’t have time to prove that right or wrong…
We grabbed some traditional Hungarian desserts once we left the Island, and then continued our walk through Buda. We found a geo-fest, with more stones and rocks than I have seen in one place
in a long while ever. And of course, they had snakes there, too. I mean, that totally makes sense. And yes, I did hold one. And yes, I immediately busted out the disinfectant. From there, we moved on to a hole in the wall pizza joint (featuring a pizza named (PG-13 rating applies) “Pussy-Pussy Monica and Bill,” after Clinton of course. This apparently translates into Hungarian as “Kiss Kiss Monica and Bill.” We did actually order this and it was delicious).
Next up: the Castle/Palace compound. The Castle had fantastic views of the Pest side and apparently makes a great date spot per the locals (Future vacation, Tim?!). We timed our visit just right to coincide with the visit by the man speculated to be in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China. He tried to look through the viewfinder binoculars, but none of his guards had change :(
From here we wandered up to the Citadel and enjoyed some Hungarian dessert wine and trifle from the Panoramic Restaurant, which offers some of the best views of Budapest. On our way back we detoured at the sound of music and happened upon a local folk dance group who taught us some new dance moves, including the “Cheeky” from Transylvania. Corey’s going to try it out on the ladies in Vienna, so we shall see how that turns out… Stay tuned.