It’s true, this wonderful city seems to have come out of a story of enchantment, especially when walking through its streets during the Christmas season. Is there anything lovelier than a Christmas market on a freezing winter’s night?
Buddha and Pest: it is more what unites them than what separates them! We made a short getaway between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and headed for 5 days towards Budapest, the capital of Hungary, to discover a little of its culture, history, and traditions. Besides, in the middle of winter, it costs nothing to travel to a country that has no sea! 🙂
Another European city worth visiting at this time of year is London!
Some practical information!
The currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF), spoken Hungarian (but it’s easy to communicate in English and German!).
Overall it is an affordable destination, although a 10 to 15% tip should not be dispensed with, especially in restaurants.
I always advise you to take a look at the Portal das Comunidades Portuguesas, they are not binding, but you get the first impression of your preparations before the trip and what to expect at your destination.
And don’t forget about insurance and, if you’re from Europe, take your European Health Insurance Card!
Portuguese citizens can travel to Hungary presenting their passport or citizen card (visa exemption), but at this time, any extra requirements related to Covid-19 should be taken into account, it’s not worth it to make it easy. the risk of not boarding or arriving at the destination and returning to Portugal without setting a foot outside the airport!
As in the rest of Europe, medical care is free in Budapest, you just need to be a European citizen and have a European Health Insurance Card. It’s free and, in Portugal, you can apply for it at Social Security or at citizen’s stores. The most practical, however, is to request it through the internet here: https://www.seg-social.pt/pedido-cartao-europeu-seguro-doenca.
Some words that can make your life easier (and I, I confess, I didn’t learn any) and show sympathy for the residents who welcome us with such hospitality:
- Hi (1 person) – Szia
- Hi (several) – Sziasztok
- Please – Kérem
- Thank you – KöszönömDe nada – Szívesen
- Good morning – Jó reggelt
- Good afternoon – Jó napot
- Good night – Jó éjszakát
- Welcome – Üdvözlöm
- Excuse me – Bocsánat
- Water – Víz
- Beer – Sör
- Wine – Bor
- Milk – TejS
- Juice – Gyümölcslé
Buddha and Pest: it is more what unites them than what separates them! Where to stay?
There are several possibilities, but we chose the City Hotel Matyas, which is located in a historic building and in a very central area, close to the Danube river – just a few steps from the pedestrian area of Váci Utca, where you will find the top shops and restaurants! Some of the rooms have a panoramic view of the Danube and Buda Castle.
Below is the Restaurant Mátyás Pince (Adega Matthias), known for its historic interior and its Hungarian cuisine. This is apparently an icon of the city, but we ended up not trying it out. If you have a chance to go, then let us know how it went! (Yes, we got some curiosity!)
Buddha e Pest: it is more what unites them than what separates them. A little bit of history!
On the Danube: it is almost 2,900 kilometers long and is the second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga. The Danube crosses Europe from west to east and crosses Germany – where it is born – Austria, Hungary, and Romania.
In reality, Budapest is the junction of 3 cities: Obuda, “ancient Buda”, Buda, the high city situated on the left bank of the Danube, and Pest, the low city on the right bank of the river. In 1873, Obuda, Buda, and Pest were united under the name of Budapest, and the city became the second most important city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
For a little more in-depth knowledge, I suggest you to consult this page. Or, even better, take a guided tour of the city, there are several options for free tours, made by very competent guides, who will show you some of the most interesting places while telling you a little about the history, culture and traditions of this city. so peculiar. I’m a big fan of walking tours, you can see some here: https://www.triptobudapest.hu/. Oh, and at the end, don’t forget to tip your guide a good deal 😉
Buddha e Pest: it is more what unites them than what separates them. Our suggestions!
1. Night walk along the bank of the Danube
It can be a bit frosty in midwinter (tears will fly at the speed of the wind at the time!), but it’s really worth it, as the view is wonderful.
2. Day trip along the Danube bank and visit the Budapest Parliament
This time the riverside promenade was during the day, the Parliament of Budapest is an iconic building with a Gothic revivalist style, inside the rooms are exuberantly decorated.
3. Shoes on the Danube Bank
This memorial, erected in 2005, was conceived by filmmaker Can Togay and created with sculptor Gyula Pauer. A tribute to the Jews slaughtered by the Hungarian Fascist militia belonging to the Arrow Cross Party in Budapest during World War II.
Here the Jews were ordered to take off their shoes and were then shot so that the bodies fell into the river. Shoes on the Danube Bank represents the shoes left behind, on the bank, but not only!
One should not look at this memorial with a light heart, as it is a reminder in the form of a reminder of how human beings are capable of the most violent atrocities.
4. Go through Váci Utca and the adjacent streetss
It’s true that I was in Budapest at a festive time, there was the joy of Christmas and the approach of a new year, the streets were decorated, there were lights, music and a contagious joy in the air. Even so, I believe that this area of the city retains its charm even outside the Christmas season.
Anyone who was in Budapest at any other time of the year should accuse themselves, we’d love to know how it went!
5. Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival
Ready. Christmas, Christmas markets, thousands of people in the streets, stalls with food, drink, jewelry, crafts, plants, basically, stalls of everything and more, with a stage in the background where the music was echoing through the Vörösmarty Square .
6. Drinking mulled wine and eating one Kürtőskalács (at a time)
The terraces have heaters and I can’t tell you what the inside of any cafe or restaurant we’ve been like, we opted to always stay on the terrace drinking our coffee or our mulled wine made in giant cauldrons (some are better than others, just go testing!) and savoring a wonderful Kürtőskalács aka Chimney cake.
8. Taste traditional Hungarian food
If I stayed fa? Not really. But there’s no way to try it and don’t eat badly either!
9. Go to the other side and meet Buddha
We took a free tour that took us to the other bank of the Danube, to Buda. I have to tell you the view is brutal!
There was much more to see, but we stayed there in the area of Matthias Church, dated from the 14th century, named after King Matthias, who married here, and Fisherman’s Bastion, a 19th century fortress with watchtowers that give a panoramic view extraordinary.
10. Go out at night for a drink in a more underground bar
BBudapest is known for its more underground nightlife, with good music (rock, punk, metal, industrial and the like, understand!) and we went to some really cool bars, including the Beat on the Brat, it was just what we were looking for! Apparently they’re going to move, but I believe the spirit is there and it’s worth a look when they have a new home.
This museum presents a vivid portrait of the effects of the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Hungary, and is also a memorial to the victims.
Unique of its kind, it intends to be a monument to the memory of prisoners, tortured and killed in this building. The Museum, while presenting the horrors in a tangible way, also intends to make people understand that the sacrifice for freedom was not in vain. Ultimately, the struggle against the two most cruel systems of the 20th century ended with the victory of the forces of freedom and independence.
Once the formal presentation has been made, it is undoubtedly worthy of a visit. When we visited, there was not much information in English, being more directed towards the Hungarian people, which also makes sense, as they are the descendants of these regimes that are so overwhelming in the country’s history.
12. City Park Ice Rink and Boating, Vajdahunyad Castle, Statue of Anonymous and Heroes Square
On this trip we almost always walked, which means that we did brave kilometers! More out of the center, the City Park Ice Rink and Boating area is full of things to do: from skating, walking or, simply, enjoy it. read a book on one of the garden benches.
The City Park Ice Rink and Boating was full of skaters, we hung around watching the falls! (It’s not nice to say, but a nice smack every now and then is funny!), then we wandered through the gardens, went to the castle and, as usual, took a picture with the Statue of Anonymous, the figure hooded hood that faces the castle and depicts the unknown chronicler of the court of King Béla III (r 1172–96), who told the story of the early Magyars. Writers (and aspirants) rub the tip of their pen for inspiration for their work.
We left by Heroes Square, a World Heritage Site, a huge open space with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary.
More about Buddha e Pest: it is more what unites them than what separates them.
We went to more beautiful places! I could write another article the size of this one or even bigger, but only if you ask a lot (I hear I write too much, so maybe we’ll stop here!) 🙂
But no, we didn’t go to the spas, despite being one of the biggest recommendations we received from those who already knew the city. If we go to all the interesting places in one trip, we don’t have any excuses to go back, so next time this a-ana goes to the spa! We’ll call it “a-ana goes to the Hungarian Spa”.
Oh, and don’t forget, in the city of Budapest tap water will most likely be healthier than any bottled water you can buy, unless of course the water has been bottled in Budapest! 🙂
Olther cool places, this time in Portugal? Try Aguiar da Beira. Oh, but whether you are going to Budapest, Aguiar da Beira or any other cool place, what really matters is going and enjoying it to the full!