7 Things I Learned In Budapest


Budapest they say, is the Paris of the east. Stunningly gothic and quirky, with tradition and a lot of history seeped truly into its core. It has been subject to stern conditions, through World War 2 especially, it was the home of brutal Nazi takeover, with thousands of Jews being lined up along the Danube and shot, falling into the river. The country has been battered and bruised, but their unwavering love for their country has kept them alive and thriving. I visited Budapest in 2011, although it doesn't feel like that long ago, in a chilly October, where I stayed at the Zara Contintental Hotel 4****, modern, stylish and highly recommended. All photos are slightly retro in my hairstyle, fashion sense and poses, but this was me as a much more energized and healthier feeling self.

Flashback 2011 (Budapest)

I spent four glorious days in the city, and I've put together a list for any newbie travellers to the city, that may be of some use, and things that I learned from being there, whether it's inspirationally, or physically, and even spiritually.

1. Speaking Hungarian Often Falls On Deaf Ears

If you want to practice your Hungarian, then it is of course worth a try, although having practised my Hungarian choice phrases to perfection, I decided to speak a few, in cafes, to taxi drivers. There really is no need. I had a few blank faces and then replies in English! Do not worry about the language barrier, as with all top European cities, English is widely spoken and they are a very pleasent race.

2. Drinking Water With Everything

In every restuarant or cafe I visited, a glass of water came along with it. Firstly this happened when we ordered coffee, and this was the first time I had realised why exactly the Hungarians did this. In the UK, we order coffee, and that is it, even if you're drinking an espresso. In Hungary, they take health a little more serious perhaps, and ensure that you stay hydrated whilst you dose up on those caffeine laced drinks.

3. St Margarets Island Holds Many Secrets

St Margarets island is a small island in the middle of the Danube, which is popular with tourists. It seems to attract many joggers, and bikers. However, the island itself had a particularly eerie feel to it. During the autumn months, it perhaps was a little more lonely than during its peak in summer, but there were many small abandoned buildings, lots of untouched places that seemed very primitive, such as old play areas for children. After researching it, I came to realise that it was used by German soliders in the war and a lot of unpleasent things occured during this time. The island is large, would be great for picnics in summer, but it isn't really worth a visit unless you would like to explore it's abandoned little pathways and buildings.

4. Live Slower And Be More In The Moment

This is something I've experienced throughout most of Europe and why I'm so heavily connected to it. Budapest has such a slow pace of living. People don't rush, there is no hustle and bustle in the way that we experience in the UK. The train station was particularly incredible, when I popped inside to take a look at the architecture, I noticed that at 9am in the middle of rush hour, the whole area was incredibly quiet, a very low hum and even barely. People are quiet, they go placidly with their business and it perplexed me at first, yet it also made me very aware of how important a calm, slow pace of life is. I try and adopt it now, yet it is not as easy in the middle of multi-cultural Leeds.

5. Taxis Are Very Plush

If you want to get into a taxi in Budapest, then you can flag them down on the street if they appear empty. All drivers were incredibly smart, with ties, and some taxis were Mercedes or BMWs. This didn't affect their price however, although taxis aren't really needed, everything is within walking distance. I would recommend the standard cliched city tourbus, just because it will take you to everywhere you need to go. If however you do need a taxi, get a quote first, it's a known fact that taxi drivers tend to pile on the costs if you're a tourist.

6. There Are So Many Incredible Hotels

If you are a hotel junkie and love fine hotels, then Budapest is the place. It has a long stretch along the river of incredible hotels, from the Four Seasons and Sofitel. The Marriott was especially nice with beautiful crystal chandeliers and a real modern but homely feel. I would love to go back to Budapest for the hotels alone.

7. It Is Geographically Desirable

If you're in town for a week in Budapest, then there are many reasons that this is the city to be in! In around 4 days you can comfortably take in all the large sights of interest, if you wish to. Budapest sits in the heart of Europe, so many nearby cities and countries are accessible by coach or train. You can easily take day trips to Vienna and Bratislava.

It is well worth a visit, perhaps a weekend trip if you're wanting to check out the sights and have a quick passing trip, it should be at the top of your city break list!

Scroll down for some retro flashback photos from this beautiful city in my mini photo diary.