One of my friends from the U.S. was going to be in Budapest in July, so I decided to leave Germany and meet up with her there. I had never been to Hungary or other countries near it, so I was excited to see what it would be like.
I found out that Buda and Pest are two different sides of the city and are separated by the Danube River. There is a beautiful old chain bridge that is lit up at night, as are many of the historic sights on the river.
The first night, we mainly walked around. Then, we spent the next day taking the funicular up to Buda and seeing some beautiful views of Pest. Back in Pest, we found our way to a breath-taking old market. There were many different stalls. Some sold fruits and vegetables or meat, others catered to tourists, selling spices, and some sold baked goods and other specialities. We were able to sample good Hungarian food on the second level for lunch.
There were several things that surprised me about Budapest:
- English was very prevalent at any tourist destination: restaurants, shops, etc.
- Apparently, Hungary is famous for paprika. It was everywhere along with peppers on souvenir items, like dish towels.
- The currency is confusing, because it has 2 more zeros than either the dollar or the euro. Walking around with a 10,000 bill was very unsettling.
- There were many different styles of architecture very close to one another. Within minutes, I was walking through a tourist pedestrian street then to what looked like a Soviet-influenced, 1950s neighborhood then to the old Jewish ghetto, which was need of restoration, and finally I found myself on a UNESCO World Heritage street.
I enjoyed the food, having a roasted duck with mashed potatoes and cabbage one night. I also, as is typical, enjoyed the desserts. My first day, I had a strudel, and the next day, I had to go back and get 2 strudels.
For an unexpected trip, I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered in Budapest.