Backpacking Eastern Europe via River Boat: 1st Stop Budapest
Arriving in Budapest I really had no idea what to expect. I figured it’d be full of gorgeous old buildings, castles and little Italian like streets. That turned out to be true, but its also way different than I thought. Eastern Europe has hills like the hill country in Texas and gives the city an even better design with castles and buildings peaking out at all different levels.
I took a tour of the Buda and Pest side of the city and found that each side is separated by the Danube River. I also learned that a majority of the buildings here were built in the last 200 years actually because their originals were destroyed in the Siege Budapest in late 1944 and early 1945. There was a 50 day period where over 40% of Budapest’s buildings were destroyed. They tried to rebuild many as they were but some where made more modern and some fit the older periods.
Apparently Buda & Pest are very different although only about a football fields length apart. The Pest side has 2/3 the population of Budapest while Buda has only a 1/3. Most of the houses are very old and can not be renovated because of their historic nature. So most of the homes aren’t inhabited. There is the gorgeous castle of Buda on the Buda side flanked by small streets and topped with what I can only describe as a floral patterned roof much like in the movie Frozen!
I thought it was awesome! And of course it wouldn’t be Europe without thousands of tourists around too! It’s always interesting to here all the different languages pass by you when you’re walking around.
I also stopped by a Holocaust Memorial, here in Budapest during WWII over 5000 jews were lined up on the side of the Danube river told to take off their shoes and then were unfortunately shot and killed. So tragic, sad and awful, these shoes symbolize so much about that time. The people of Budapest keep the area clean and full of candles, flowers and toys in remembrance of the people that lost their lives here that day.
As for the Pest side there you will find the trams, trollies, buses and subway.
The University, Great Market Hall and my favorite the Thermal Bathes. They have a very easy to use public transportation system and plenty of Hungarian students that know english. We managed to get to both destinations via subway and tram with only one wrong turn! Totally worth it though for the laughs!
Hungarian’s are by far some of the nicest people I have ever met. They will answer any questions and offer help if they can. While in the Thermal Bathes I thought for sure I could find an english speaker to help me find my way. There was no one around that understood me so I decided to try Spanish and I met a really nice lady that helped me find the pool I was looking for in Spanish. Who would’ve thought….Spanish in Hungary.
Last when you come you have to take a night cruise and see Budapest all lit up in a warm yellow glow!
Now I am set off for Slovakia but so far I can attest that Budapest is a must visit city. Between the Goulash, Paprika rich dishes and friendly people you won’t be disappointed!
Nanny has been a great travel companion. I am so thankful for this experience with her already! She keeps me on my toes and we toast to merlot at the end of each day!
Some History about Budapest: In a park at the base of the chain bridge sits a statue of the number zero with the letter “KM” carved beneath it-it’s the zero kilometer stone used as the mile-marker from which all roads in Hungary are measured. In 1956, a student demonstration against the soviet occupation quickly devolved into a revolution against soviet control of Hungary when a student was shot by Russian soldiers. The revolution was short, lasting October 23rd to November 10, but it was bloody. More than 3,000 people were killed, 15,000 were wounded, and more than 200,000 fled the country as refugees. For a traditional Hungarian treat, try – Kurtosklacs – a tube-shaped pastry made of strips of sweet dough wrapped around a cone and cooked over an open charcoal flame. This street food dessert is traditionally finished with a dusting of cinnamon or a sprinkly of chopped walnut.
Places to Visit When You Come:
THERMAL BATHES – (SECOND TO LAST STOP GOING AWAY FROM MEXICO ON THE MAP) AND RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER IN THE YELLOW BUILDING WHEN YOU COME UP FROM THE SUBWAY.
GREAT MARKET HALL – THE UNDERGROUND TRAM STOP (DON’T MISS IT LIKE I DID THE FIRST TIME).
BUDA CASTLE – BUDA SIDE – ACROSS THE BRIDGE IF YOU ARE COMING FROM PEST. HARD TO MISS THIS ONE.