If I Had a House in Budapest I Would Not Leave it For Anyone
I don’t know what kind of person George Ezra was singing about when he confessed that he would abandon his home in Budapest for them, but they must have been very, very special. Because there is no one on this planet that I would give up a house in Budapest for. (Except perhaps Johnny Depp. Him and his puppies can break international custom laws any day to get in my house).
Budapest is the centre of Europe, the grand old dame of the Habsburg Empire, the inventor of ‘Goulash Communism’ and, in the 21st century, one of Europe’s major weekend getaway destinations: Budapest is a city which will not fail to impress even the most seasoned traveler. The city is also the home of the great Danube, “whose gentle waves,” according to the great Hungarian poet Attila József, “embrace past, present, and future.” Straddling the wide river, which separates hilly Buda from level Pest, the metropolitan panorama of Budapest is breathtakingly gorgeous.
The Hungarian capital is really two cities – Buda and Pest, and did not officially became one entity until the end of the 19th century. Hilly Buda is calm and serene, full of elegant architecture such as the Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion, looks down onto flat Pest, where business, commerce, culture and a thriving nightlife scene exist side-by-side, along with a slightly seedy sex trade, giving the city a remarkable diverse nature. Budapest really does seem to have something to offer everyone from history and culture buffs and fans of architecture to the all-night ravers who intend to drink the city dry.
By now you should by inspired to see this city for yourself, but are the highlights of a trip to Budapest? Well first things first. Have a bath.
Yes a bath. More specifically in Budapest’s famous thermal pools. Hungarians have been ‘taking the waters’ supplied by the 300 thermal springs in the city since togas were all the rage and Aquincum was the big apple. That geological fault that separates the Buda Hills from the flat plains supplies the city with 123 thermal and more than 400 mineral springs. This is the main attraction of the Budapest and after sitting in that steaming water for a day you will feel as fresh as a newborn baby.
After you have rejuvenated in Budapest’s Roman Spa’s visit Buda Castle. It dates back to the 13th century and inside the walled complex you will discover the Royal Palace, St Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s Bastion – one of the city’s most recognised icons. The Bastion overlooks the Danube and offers incredible views of the river and the bridges. From there you can walk over the bridge and admire the magnificent view of the Pest side of the city. Within the castle itself you will discover the complex cave system Labyrinth that have been used through time as wine cellars, torture chambers, and even a military hospital. Today there is a main highlight of the Labyrinth. The Matyas Wine Fountain. With a non-stop stream of red wine, I need to find a Hungarian who can install a replica in my own home.
I only had the opportunity to spend a few days in the city so only saw a few highlights (and got a haircut), but according to a friend, (AKA Lonely Planet), you should definitely visit these places too:
- Parliament House
- Saint Stevens Basilica
- Momento Park
Lonely Planet also suggested doing a Segway Tour. I am not at a point in my life where I can take Segway’s seriously but you should definitely give it a go and send me pictures of anyone who stacks it.
Budapest is a sad but confident city and there is a high chance you will be find it hard to comprehend the city’s complex history. But this unique city is bound to charm you in many ways. You will admire buildings so magnificent and iconic of this city alone, you will hear a language that reminds you of none other, you will taste dishes no neighbouring country claims as their own and you will sit in the glorious natural springs that put the city on the map.