My original plan, made a year ago, called for a week in Budapest after my 4 weeks in Poland - with another week in between for whatever I wanted. I ran through a bunch of good options (other parts of Hungary, Slovakia, cheap flights to Malta or Palermo, etc.), but at the very end of Poland, I decided what I really wanted was just to chill and be in Budapest. It might have been a bit of travel fatigue, but it was a great choice for me.
Anyway, here are the things I did and saw slowly during my 2 weeks (I am not a morning person - meaning I may be up but not “out”). So just know you could do all this in probably half the time that I did. But if you have time to relax and savor, it’s a great place for that.
- An afternoon at the Nemzeti Vagta (National Gallop): This was just fortuitous timing. On the day I was there, it was a series of horse races, with 4-6 racers in each race. There was a lap of pageantry, 2-3 laps of race, a cool down lap, then a victor’s lap. It was just low key fun, if you like horses. Day 2 has more variety, I think.
- A day trip to visit horses and other animals, with a Hungarian cowboy show and a wagon ride, plus a big lunch, and a short guided tour in Kecskemét. It was completely touristy and lots of fun. On my tour was a group of 5 ladies from Munich (friends for 30 years) and a group of 3 young Israeli guys from Jerusalem (2 born in Israel and one emigrated from Lithuania). It was easy for me to move between those groups and the conversations were both interesting and fun.
- Lunch with fellow forum traveler from Texas! Always a highlight on a trip!
- Wandering through City Park around the Hungarian House of Music and Vajdahunyad Castle (a museum now). It was a Monday with museums closed, so I just enjoyed the outside with nice weather. Then a stop at Hero’s Square with no racetrack. Ha! (Also, make a reservation online ahead of time for visiting the House of Music.)
- Rudas Baths - a very leisurely afternoon. It was Tuesday, which is women’s day in the old Turkish bath and sauna part of the complex (but not the more modern parts). I enjoyed the pools of different temps, the rooftop warm pool, and then went to the basement Turkish pools and sauna area, followed by a massage. Lots of steps if that matters. In the evening I went down by the river for sunset.
- Great Market Hall: it’s big. Ha!
- Hungarian National Museum: I did not go inside but wandered the garden where there was an outside exhibition of fashion designs on very very tall “models”, with the dresses looking to be made of plastics. I had seen this driving in on arrival day and was intrigued.
- Spice shop: inside a little courtyard you can’t see from the street. Presents…. :) I could have gotten something similar at the Great Market Hall, but this had a lot of variety in small packets (and for better or worse didn’t say Hungary in bright red letters all over them).
- Doheny Synagogue tour: beautiful, huge, ornate. The garden and museum and very small exhibition showing the Jewish area in 1944 is moving.
- Salgotarjani street Jewish Cemetery: I love old cemeteries and this is a once grand small cemetery with gorgeous old monuments, tall trees, but now falling into disrepair. Peaceful and beautiful. Definitely outside the normal tourist zone but not hard to get to.
- House of Terror:: Pretty unique museum and definitely something to know about Hungary’s history. I had read about this time period, but to be in the actual location is chilling.
- Hungarian Opera House Tour: Yes, I have tickets to the opera, but a friend reminded me that on a tour I would learn what I would not with just the performance.
- Spinoza Dinner and Klezmer Concert: This was great fun. Welcome drink, 1 hour show, followed by 3 course dinner. And the music is just a lot of fun and musicians good. (Plus I now have new friends from Harlaam.)