Just spent a couple days in Budapest. As for Central Europe, Prague is the bohemian sister, Vienna the elegant one and Budapest the gritty sister. Gorgeous architecture but maybe a bit rough around the edges. I enjoyed wandering about as I always do. Went to the central market and had good stuffed cabbage, maybe not quite as good as that of my Hungarian mother’s but still good. As she would say anything with sour cream is good and I agree. Did not get to your Parliament because I did not book advance tickets. Nighttime walk along the Danube and Charles bridge is a must! Also went to the castle and especially like Matthias church. Did not tour castle inside but it was a full day of walking around before I had to hit the train station for overnight train to Split. I stayed at Leo Boutique Apartment hotel. Loved this little place, gorgeous view and very eclectic furnishings. I have a budget of $150 a night over 11 weeks. I generally look for places that have “character” and a nice view, and are in central location. I found the Budapest metro system easy to use, like Vienna’s. I must say the escalator down to the metro was steep and pretty fast, definitely thought about it before stepping on! Lastly, took the night train (Hungarian railway MAV) booked on the MAV website, I may be Hungarian but I don’t speak the language. I did fine booking my ticket. Easy to get to train station using metro and enjoyed first class lounge at Budapest Kelti because I had booked a private sleeper. First class lounges are the way to go if you are waiting for a train! Train was a bit older, but best service of all trains! Nice gentleman helped me find my car and helped me load suitcase on train. Food in dining car was good, service was great, included breakfast. Sleeper had a small bottle of champagne, some water, juice and snacks. Face towel and soap also. It may have been an older train (girl does love pink walls and burgundy carpet). Again, service was first class all the way and I would not hesitate to recommend this train as an alternative way to travel to Split Croatia, rather than bus thru Zagreb.
I have not been back to Budapest since 2015, my 3rd day trip in the city, the first two were in 2010 and 2014. The areas visited, eg, Heroes Square, the Parliament , Gellert Hill, St. Mathius church, the German Catholic and Protestant churches, the Chain Bridge, the statue of Prince Eugene area, US Embassy, and others were certain not gritty. I must have missed these prized spots.
I'll be back in BP next yea (it's about time, nearly a 10 year absence) aiming for the end of May/June , the beginning of the summer season and spending a multi-day stay, and will look for these relatively gritty areas
What I saw then in BP didn't even come close to being defined as gritty, even though I have heard that such spots exist
By gritty I did not mean grimy or dirty, I meant more like rough and determined. There are many grand buildings that have seen better days, perhaps this is from many years under communism, still it is a beautiful city, and I would not want to discourage anyone from going there.
Dkcmontana, I live here and I love the place and I think you are correct. And it's the most real of the trio too.
B-P is gritty, after many years of Commie destruction of property and civic pride. But it's much less gritty than Beograd or Bratislava or Bucharest. The shiny parts are very nice indeed.
Thanks for your impressions; gritty or not, I’m anxious to make Budapest’s acquaintance next month. I like your descriptions of the 3 cities. I do love walking in big European cities full of history. I’ll chime in with my own observations in another 6 weeks. After reading your posts I can’t wait to get on my way.
Went to the central market and had good stuffed cabbage
dkcmontana, where in the market did you have this? I've only had my Italian family's version of stuffed cabbage, so Hungarian would be interesting to try. And maybe would give me a reason to buy some Hungarian paprika.
Stuffed cabbage. / töltött káposzta
Another nice, succinct impression of a city. I'm enjoying reading your trip reports and reviews. Sounds like you are having a great trip!
I like your summary - and it sounds like you enjoyed! You make me anxious to get back next month - but you have also piqued my interest in the night train. I think I would like it!
CW, you are either going to have to add days or eat four times a day. 🤣
I love your description. I always think of Budapest as the poor man's Paris. I understand that with so little time, you had to skip some great stuff. I do hope you get back soon to see more.
CW, you are either going to have to add days or eat four times a day.
Yes, this is going to require some scheduling discipline: I'm thinking pastry and cake at cafes at 10 and 2, meals at noon and 4, with proper dinner at 8 🤣
dkcmontana, I forgot to say I enjoyed your Prague report as well. I a, just now catching up.
CW, just don’t call me for 3 of those 5 meals - but I think it could work. 🤣
Okay, I will bite. But only because I should be studying my Hungarian lessons and I don’t want to. Despite my belief that communism and socialism are dismal failures I will push back on one point
“Commie destruction of property and civic pride”
Civic by definition is the collective and that is communism. If you were to watch some of the old propaganda films you would see that civic responsibility was paramount in the system. Public decay was poverty, not wanting and not abuse. The fact that the city stands as it does today is testament to civic pride despite abject poverty. This is a very civic minded country, one that washes every sidewalk, every week and that is just a capitalist (now they can afford it) extension of a prior belief system. Or that’s my belief at least.
Paprika, go to a grocery store or go to Fűszeres “The Spicery” at Károly körút 10, in the courtyard on the right.
EDIT: Funny thing, as I was writing this post the crew showed up and power washed my sidewalk. An hour later the street sweeping crew showed up with dustpans and brooms and cleaned up ever scrap on the streets. They are incredibly meticulous and even reached under parked cars. Lets see minimum wage workers do that in the US.
The Spicery added, right on my way to the Hungarian National Museum.
Have fun finding it
Of the museums in B-P, we found the Hungarian Agricultural Museum to be quite interesting. It's more history of agriculture, including the wine trade. Some interesting stuff about serfdom in Hungary (abolished in 1856, as per one display).
"Rough and determined" I think that sums up Budapest perfectly. My first trip there was in 2014 and I arrived via train from Vienna, and immediately had the same impression of a certain grittiness. Wasn't at all sure about the land of my ancestors, but conquered the metro, found the gorgeous Museum of Applied Art on Ulloi ut and had some toltott kaposzta at the Nagycsarnok and within a few hours I had fallen completely under its spell and have since returned 5 more times...it's a very special city indeed.
Budapest is on my list to visit as well. Grew up eating stuffed cabbage from my Ukrainian grandparents.
Ok, Paul, I have walked past that museum more than twice. Maybe this time I stop and go inside. It is certainly beautiful from the outside.