Hungary: The Lights of Budapest

After visiting 13 countries and more than 35 cities in Europe, Im still asking myself – what makes your trip special. What makes the cities that you are visiting more than just new places to see, the people – more than just kind strangers. Well, I guess I need to travel some more because I still can’t find the answer to this question. I’ve been to beautiful cities that I don’t enjoy, and quite the opposite – in dirty, not well organized cities that I love. First I was thinking that it depends on the people with who you are traveling with or on the experience. But at the end – its not that. Its just this special feeling that makes you feel welcome in this city and there is no logical explanation why are you feeling that way. Lately, Im feeling strangely attached to cities that I’ve never expect to like that much. One of them is Budapest.

Actually, if I have to be honest, this trip happened out of the blue. I didn’t planned to go in Hungary this summer, but when Magda – a friend of mine from Poland told me that she want to visit me in Bulgaria, we decided to find the cheapest and the most comfortable way for her to do that. As I knew that WizzAir offers cheap flight from Budapest to Sofia, I proposed to her to take bus from Poland to Budapest and then to fly to Sofia. In the same time, I started to think : I’ve never been to Budapest, the flight is cheap and I’ll have the opportunity to visit a friend there. So let’s meet in Budapest, spend some days there together and then go back in Sofia!” Done. I bought tickets for me and for a friend named Simo – each ticket for 30 euro both ways. We were traveling only with hand luggage so we saved some money. Leaving for Hungary – 28th of July, returning on 31st of July – 4 days in Budapest!!! Everyone was saying that this is not enough for city with the size of Budapest, but we had a secret weapon – our local friend Sandor. We four met on youth exchange in Poland and now this trip gave us the possibility to meet again. Sanyi was kind to offer his services as guide and to host us in his amazing flat. So, I just couldn’t wait for the end of the month to come and to leave for Hungary.

Well, the trip didn’t start at the best possible way – extra security measures at Sofia Airport and 3 hours delay of the flight. After waiting patiently or not that patiently, we finally departured. After less than hour we arrived in Budapest where we took a bus from the airport to meet Magda who arrived in the city shortly before us. Thanks to Wikitravel and Sandor’s advices we didn’t had any problems with public transportation, so finally, at this worm Hungarian Saturday evening friends from three different counties met again. We left our bags at Sanyi’s place and went out to meet with other Hungarian friend – Anamaria. We were surprised when they offered to buy bottle of wine and to drink on the street. Then they told us that this is something very usual for all people in Budapest. Then I saw its true. All around there were young people, drinking, chatting, having fun. Well, I guess, if you want to feel Budapest, or actually Pest, then the right way to do that is to go out on a free night and share bottle of wine with some friends on a bench in the park… Our next stop was Szimpla – one of the coolest places Ive ever been. Really unique bar with interesting decoration and nice atmosphere.  If there is something to change, that will be the music. But anyway, its amazing place and if you go to Budapest, go have a beer there.

The next day we spent doing sightseeing. Unfortunately it was 40 degrees, but this didn’t scared us. We walked almost the whole day, checking one by one the most famous places in Budapest – Margaret Island, St Stephan’s basilica, House of Opera, Grand Synagoge and of course the impressive building of the Parliament.  I had a list with sights printed from Wikitravel and at the end of the trip it turned out that we checked almost the whole of it! We even took a boat trip on Danube. And all of this just for 3-4 days! But well, as I said, we had Sanyi – the best guide ever. He even showed us some special places that are not at the tourist books. Like Budapest cemetery – Kerepesi or Fiumei Road National Graveyard.  Its is surreal place where angels, demons and all kind of creatures walk on earth. Walking througt the alleys, we were surrounded by century old trees, old kind of monuments made of different types of stone and of course, the immortal souls of famous Hungarians.  I’m happy we had Sanyi to show us this place – for sure its on the top of my list with sights of Budapest. It is followed by Buda castle and Fishermen’s Bastion that we visited at our last night in the city. Only from there you can see Budapest to shine as its is golden.

At the beginning of our stay at Budapest Sanyi told me :  – “Do you know that Prague and Budapest are always in competition which city is more beautiful. And of course – the answer is Budapest.” – “No way”, I said. I visited Prague in the spring and immediately fall in love with it, so I wasn’t willing to agree that fast. “Okay, I will show you!”, said he. And he did it! For just couple of days he convinced me that Budapest is more beautiful than Prague. And I still don’t know how he did it. At the beginning I was shocked to see how dirty and noisy city is, but then I stop noticing these things. I was only seeing these old buildings full of history,  these colossal bridges uniting two so different parts of this one city, these full of life Hungarians speaking language so different from everything I’ve heard before. And the best part –  the sunset, coloring the water of Danube in gold and pink and when the sun goes down – the view from the hill when you can see the city lights reflecting in this same water. Budapest is more in every possible way – its bigger, its crowded, its town with many many faces – some times hostile, some times like home, old and new, dark, colorful, full of life and possibilities..

Text by Neli
Photos by Simeon Mlinov


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