Several months ago I posted this topic on RS Helpline and received some fabulous information from several posters, but most especially from James. Now that RS has updated the website, I can no longer retrieve the information that I so carefully saved in my computer files!!! James had provided names of restaurants, and important places to go, but even more special was a map of the "Sidewalk Stones", commemorating the last sighting of a particular Jewish person during WWII. None of that seems to be retrievable now. I also can't find a way on this new site to send a personal message, which I was going to do, to get further information from James and the others. I am hoping that James and the others, who all so kindly posted reams of information, will see this and repost!!! Thank you all so much for your help. Another issue with the new site.....is it just me, or does no one receive email notification when a reply is posted??
Oh, and I have seen the other information that James, and others, have posted on this new site so no need to repeat that. I was more interested in quirky, out of the mainstream things to see, and especially the stones. A link to the website with a map for the stones was posted on the old site.....hoping to get that again!!!
At your service
THANK YOU.....James, there you are!! And the map is exactly what I was looking for and thought it had disappeared. As for "quirky", that probably wasn't the right word. I meant...sights that weren't necessarily mentioned in every single guidebook....that maybe were more known to locals or a little off the beaten track. We plan to visit most of the often mentioned places, but wanted a few "unusual" suggestions, as well. The Hidden Hospital is the sort of thing that I was thinking and I will add that to my list. The Tank Experience, not so much!! The Cemetery sounds interesting, maybe.
And, Diane....thank you so much.....I thought that entire thread was lost in cyperspace somewhere, when I couldn't retrieve it from the notifications that I had saved. AND, there it is!! So thank you for posting the link!!!
Since the stumbling stones interest you, you might be interested in looking for the last remnants of the Deportation Ghetto Wall. Wikipedia says the last remains were destroyed in 2006 but I am not certain that this is true. I have seen through an open door into a courtyard on Kiraly utca what appears to be a portion of the wall and upon it is a brass plaque. I have never gotten into the courtyard to confirm it or read the plague. But the portion of wall is in the right location. There are apparently other small bits and pieces of the wall in various locations. Regardless of finding pieces of the wall you might be interested in this map http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000U5y5JBNsZ94/s/650/650/Ghettomap-1944.jpg which shows you the extent of the old ghetto. The red numbers I believe indicate where you might find remnants of the wall. Wall or not you will most likely be crossing the line between the ghetto and freedom on a number of occasions and you might get some greater impact by knowing where that line actually existed. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/budapestghetto.html and
The Cemetery is really interesting if you have a couple of hours to devote to it. Its 19th century and has the tombs and crypts of Austro-Hungarian Empire heroes, Communist heroes and heroes of the rebellion of 1`956 all laid side by side. The place is full of fantastic statuary and some pretty awesome monuments, tombs and crypts.
Another idea is this outfit: http://www.beyondbudapest.hu/index.html We did one tour with them a few years back (yes we still hire for tours in Budapest from time to time) and it was fascinating. The tour we did was called The Juice of the 8th District. It's a side of Budapest few tourists see (unless they made a mistake when they reserved their accommodations). Fascinating, sad, hopeful, sometimes majestic; all in 3 hours.
There is also an opportunity to do a little spelunking in Buda. Spelunking as it is done in a country with a fraction of the personal injury lawyers as we have in the U.S.
I can direct you to an antique shop that is extends through many building basements. You think it will never end. Some beautiful stuff too.
There is a flea market with all sorts of trinkets new and old. Again, huge!
Mummies? Yes, Hungarian mummies in the town of Vac about 30 minutes by commuter train.
Please, please... where??
"I can direct you to an antique shop that is extends through many building basements. You think it will never end. Some beautiful stuff too.
There is a flea market with all sorts of trinkets new and old. Again, huge!"
The Antique shop is http://www.pinterantik.hu/en/silverware Falk Miksa utca 10. http://www.pinterantik.hu/en/history#
The street that runs across the front (land side) of the Parliament building becomes Falk Miska utca at the north end of the Parliament Building and then extends about half a km to the loop road that runs past the Nyugati Train station. This street and the side streets the lead into have a number of interesting antique, art and junk shops.
EDIT From District V or the river front you walk or take the Number 2 tram to the Parliament and past it to the north side. (the construction is complete and the tram is open again).
If you are staying along Andrassy ut or the M1 metro line you can go to the Oktogon and get on the 4/6 Tram and get off at the stop immediately after the Nyugati Train Station (the Eiffel designed station north of the Parliament). Falk Miska utca empties out right there by the tram stop (across the street).
You can take the M2 Metro line to the Kossuth ter stop and walk north past the Parliament.
From the north end of Falk Miska utca you can get on the 4/6 tram and go across the bridge to Buda. At the first stop on the Buda side get off and walk across the tracks and you will find another nice antique shop. The same road has a few much smaller antique shops that can sometimes be interesting. In all of these you can bargain a little but its not Mexico.
The flea market is called the Ecseri Flea Market. In all these years we just haven't made it there. Some we have spoken to had a blast, others not so much fun. Personally I know I will enjoy it because I just enjoy such things; and since it is the ultimate in quirky I bet you like it too. Maybe we finally make it in March (after my wife gets driving the tank out of her system) Here is some information. I know where it is located and unless you are comfortable in less touristy areas of strange cities I would just take a taxi both ways. Might cost $10 from District V. http://visitbudapest.travel/local-secrets/ecseri-flea-market/
One thing to always keep in mind no matter where you are in Budapest is that Budapest has among the lowest crime rate for a major city in all of Europe. Substantially lower than Paris or London or Barcelona or ......... So use common sense but never feel the need to allow yourself to be intimidated by being lost or being in less than polished parts of town.
Keith et al; the Children's is probably most fun when the steam engine is being used. A lot of the fun of the railroad is just getting there. If you enjoy trains there is cogwheel that you can ride up the hill to get to the Children's Railroad. And in the same area is the ski lift through the hills. Nice area.
James, previously you had said that you had a list of restaurants that you would provide. Would you mind posting that list, please? Also are the 'ruin pubs' worth visiting? We aren't intent on an active nightlife, but it sounded like they might be worth checking out. So many wonderful suggestions and, of course, not enough time to do them all in one trip!!!
A lot of people like the Ruin Bars. I'm an old fart so I visit them during the day when they are quiet and leave the evenings to younger folks. In the evenings you will find me hanging out in a wine bar down the street from where we stay or a street café watching people walk by (also near where we stay). Its one of the reasons I suggest staying along the M1 corridor; there is a lot to do in the evenings and even the Ruin Pubs are only about a 15 minute walk. For the Ruin Pubs go here: http://ruinpubs.com/
We are all old farts, too, James!! That being said, I was thinking more along the lines of visiting them just to see what they were, so I like your idea of going in the afternoon, or early evening. None of us are much for the loud, noisy, crowded bar scene and sitting at a wine bar and watching the street scene is far more to our taste, too. I do like that suggestion!!
In that case my two favorite wine bars are Kadarka (as much for the quality of the owner and staff as anything else) and Doblo. For years we would go and have a glass or two at Kadarka, then buy a bottle and BORROW a couple of glasses and walk home; returning the glasses the next day. Kadarka also has a reputation for having taken care of some tourists who lost the keys to their rentals; calling for assistance and giving them a glass while they waited. Its good people like this that are easy to find in Budapest and make the experience of the visit more rewarding.
Good catch. The list of bars is about half as long as it was a few years ago. The government has done a pretty good job of cleaning up the mess. I have run into the same sort of thing in places as diverse as Athens and Tegucigalpa; its an old ploy. Unless for some reason you think that women who wouldn't give you the time of day in the U.S. will somehow be interested in you in some other country you are relatively safe. ;-)
The perception of Germany is that its the model of western European prosperity and class. So compare the crime statistics to Hungary: http://www.nationmaster.com/compare/Germany/Hungary/Crime
I've led a pretty blessed life. After a dozen years of visiting Hungary totaling nearly a year of combined time, I have never been assaulted or been the victim of any crime. I have been assaulted in both Rome (attempted to grab my camera bag out of my hand) and Paris where a gypsy girl attempted to open my back pack while I was wearing it.
Here is some additional advice. I think some of it is a little extreme but ....... http://www.smartertravel.com/photo-galleries/editorial/surefire-ways-to-get-mugged-on-vacation.html?id=433&source=91&value=2014-02-03+00%3A00%3A00&u=C096135203&nl_cs=17469478%3A%3A7597281%3A%3A14783510%3A%3A
James, thank you for the tips in Budapest. Do you have some for Prague and Vienna?
from "lovefours" thank you for the tips in Budapest. Do you have some for Prague and Vienna?
love4s can I suggest you create a new question for each of the cities and post it in the respective country section of the Czech Republic and Austria? This section of the Helpline is for Hungary.
You're a treasure to those traveling to Budapest. Your knowledge of the area is incredible. Instead of RonInRome.com, you should do a website JamesInBudapest.com.
We'll be flying into Budapest Tuesday, 3/25, and we're sorry you're already back in North Dallas eating chicken fried steak. We'd be glad to drink a .5 liter or three with you in a grunge bar.
Thanks David. I hope you have a good time in Budapest and where ever else your travels take you. I don’t know so much, I just enjoy sharing it. We did the whole Prague – Vienna – Budapest tour about a decade ago and while we enjoyed the other cities we almost immediately felt very at home and comfortable in Budapest. In the decade we have been traveling to Budapest we have made many friends in Budapest and have never been a victim of anything. I encourage you to interact with the people; that’s where we have found real charm in Budapest. When you are served, ask the waiter his name and then thank him in Hungarian and you will have a friend.
One extreme of tourism is walking down a street with a guide book and checking off each point of history as you go past; then repeating the next day. Prague, in the way most tourists handle it, is sort of like that; and that is not a criticism, there really is that much that good in that tight a zone in Prague. The opposite end of the spectrum, closer to what Budapest is; is where the path between the points of interest becomes as important as the points themselves. And that isn’t better, it is just different. You have to recognize this or you miss a lot of the potential enjoyment of the town.
The history of the town is on the walls and in the pavement and is very accessible and sometimes profound if you recognize it, but you have to open your eyes. For instance, the one 20th century building on a street lined with 19th century buildings is most likely evidence of an allied bombing or The Siege of Budapest. The crumbling plaster of a lot of the buildings tells the story of Soviet collectivism where no one was accountable in one period and now no one can afford to overcome the state of their post-change inheritance. The pock marks that look like the results of machine gun fire are ……….. well, the results of machine gun fire most likely in the 1956 revolution. Despite those descriptions decay and destruction, look down at the sidewalk and you will see it spotless; and that is pride in the face of adversity. These are all good lessons that sometimes I think American’s need to revisit.
But it’s not all historic ruins, not even a significant percent. Castle Hill, the Parliament, Vaci utca, the Opera, the bath houses, the Danube Promenade; the mansions on upper Andrassy ut, Hero’s Square, the Great Market Hall are all as polished as anything in Vienna or London or Paris.
Among the cultural oddities that can be interesting is the perception that Hungary is just now making a transition from 1914 to 2014. That’s not bad thing in the context that you might observe. Look at the number of bookstores for instance. They still love their books. Look at the number of live theaters, both small and large. Go to the Opera and unlike other cities where the Opera exists as a museum of a past culture the opera here is very much a current trend among the population. There is rightful critisim of their actions; after all they sided with the Germans in two world wars and paid the horrible price for those actions. How much is enough self retrospection? I really don’t know the answer to that. I shared lunch with a group of older orthodox Jews in Budapest last Saturday. One elderly man reminded me that carrying hate is self-destructive. A better man than I am I guess. Still the history is described in detail in the Holocaust museum and the House of Terror museum and made tactile and almost too real with the monument Shoes on the Danube and the Glass House. But again, you have to read a little to understand. If this touches you then I encourage you to find a synagogue in Budapest and fill the collection jar.
US News and World Reports Best Affordable Destinations in Europe: http://travel.usnews.com/Rankings/Best_Affordable_Europe_Vacations/
2013 US News and World Reports Worlds Best Places to Visit: http://travel.usnews.com/Rankings/Worlds_Best_Vacations/
2013 Conde Nast Traveler: The 10 Best Cities in the World (#1 tied): http://www.cntraveler.com/readers-choice-awards/europe/best-cities-europe_slideshow_1-Budapest_9
2013 Lonely Planet Top 10 European Destinations:
NYT Article from 2011: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/travel/36-hours-in-budapest.html
NYT Article from 2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/travel/wintertime-bargains-in-budapest.html
Some good videos
I've cleaned out a few posts here. Hopefully we can avoid a back-and-forth about anti-semitism on our travel forum.