Budapest, Hungary - I would live in this city
Imagine walking through a city that is so beautiful most of its buildings are granted UNESCO world heritage site status. It is a warm Spring evening and you wander into a bar, called Liquid Rock, playing Rock Music. Striking up a conversation with two local men, you immediately build a rapport with them. It helps that you attempt to introduce yourself in the local language and they are impressed and slightly amused that you have even tried to learn the local language. One of the men, called Steven, is an encyclopaedia of knowledge on the history and culture of his country. The more questions you ask the more he happily answers with passion. You buy them drinks because they are cheap enough and you are happy to do so because their company and passing of local knowledge is worth so much more than a drink.
It is moments like this that open your eyes to other people's culture and make you realise why life is so special. After three hours of bonding you all stand outside the bar with slight intoxication and hug each other with genuine affection. Making your way back to your way back to your hotel, with a slight stagger, from drinking a good amount of Palinka (the national drink of Hungary), you smile to yourself knowing that the two men you have just met have made your life a little richer.
This was my first night in Budapest and it was one of my most memorable. I love this city. It has a unique and cosmopolitan vibe to it. Talk to people and they are friendly and helpful, especially if you know some of the local language. In a way it reminds me of Prague but on a slightly bigger scale and dare I say, less tourists.
My hotel was situated in Pest and it was approximately a 4 km walk to Buda Castle. Pest is very lively of an evening and the drink and food is very cheap. Local restaurants will not even charge you a premium. Try the local food, the Goulash was delicous.
In Budapest, Prostitution is lagalized and regulated. I was approached by 3 women in the evening but that was because of my own naivity. Walking down one of the lively streets,in the city, I had visited a few bars. I spotted 3 lovely Hungarian women, in conversation, and decided to use my little local language as I passed, "Szia!" (Hi in Hungarian) I called out. In an instant I was then surrounded by the 3 women, just like the scene with the raptors from Jurrasic Park, 'clever girl'. Thinking I must be really handsome and charming my mistake was suddenly realised when one of the women asked "You want sexy time?". I politely declined and bid them a good day. And to be honest they where also very polite and it was a funny encounter. That was rare and I see it as an amusing travel story. You should not worry about that sort of thing.
Buda castle was a sight to behold. It is vast and holds a small town inside it. The views over The Danube are spectacular and you can see the whole city including The Parliment building sitting on the banks of the river. There is no payment required to see the castle (unlike Prague Castle) and you are free to wander the expansive grounds. It can be a steep climb to the top but you are able to take a tram to the top or there are many taxi services around who will take you their and also add a tour of the castle for a small fee.
There are many places I did not go when in Budapest as I was only there for 3 nights. When I travel I am the kind of person who likes to explore and get lost. I put a number of locations into my phone but the majority I did not visit as I just took my time and enjoyed the bohemian vibe of the city. But I will certainly be going back. It is a wonderful and beautiful city.
Budapest is one of those European cities that is steeped in history and culture. Great food, drink, atmosphere, people and night life. Inexpensive to fly there and the cost of living is very easy on the pocket. What are you waiting for? Brush up on your Hungarian and book a flight.
Money is the Hungarian Forint. The majority of places also except Euros and all Major Credit Cards. The exchange rate is good, at the moment, for the Forint so you get a lot of bang for your buck. 1 GBP = 373.98 Forint