Over the weekend, I made a trip down to Budapest with my friend Tom who is currently working in England. Budapest is a place I wanted to make sure to go to while in Prague since it’s relatively close and I’d heard good things. The things I turned out to be true.
The city is absolutely beautiful. The architecture was a bit similar to Prague, but really it didn’t have as many “wow” looking buildings as Prague. The Danube River runs right through Budapest (which splits the cities of Buda in the West and Pest in the East, which is how the city obviously got its name). In Buda is the castle sitting up on the hill and a statue of lady liberty overlooking the city, and in Pest is the Parliament (modeled after Westminster in London) and the main squares. To be honest, Budapest to me seemed like a “normalized” Prague. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. The city isn’t a tourist hot spot like Prague, and that made if feel very livable. Never did I see the streets of tourist shops like in Prague, so the old part still seems very real. The thing, though, is that most of it really isn’t that old. There are modern looking buildings mixed in with the old looking buildings, but really the old looking buildings aren’t as old as they appear. During WWII (heard this from my tour), most of the city was destroyed. When rebuilding it, they kept very similar architecture for many of the buildings but also added in different styles.
The city is also known for its nightlife, and that turned out to be true also. Tom and I met up with 2 couchsurfers (one austrian, one german) who were also visiting. On both Friday and Saturday we went out and didn’t end up back at the hotel until 7 am. The bird’ chirping was in full swing and people were waking up for the day while we were walking home. Strange, strange feeling, but obviously we had a good time.
Unfortunately, in such a short time I wasn’t able to get a good feel for the Hungary culture. However, I did get to a couchsurfing event on Sunday evening before jumping on my night bus back to Prague. An Italian guy and a Polish guy had about 25 people over to their apartment and they made pasta salad and other food for everyone. They didn’t expect anything in return. It was interesting meeting people at the party, which most were Hungarians.I had to cut the night short to catch my 11:30pm bus which got back to Prague at 6:30am. Just in time for work!
One fun fact…Hungary is actually not how you say the country’s name in Hungarian. It’s actually Magyar.
Thinking about going to Budapest/Hungary is funny to me. When we’re studying geography in elementary school/middle school, of course it’s funny to see a country with a name like Hungary. It seems to strange and so far away that I would’ve never though I’d go there (also probably same with the Czech Republic and a few others). It’s funny to think that I actually did end up going to some of these places when growing up it never crossed my mind that I’d ever go out of the US.
It was a quick 2 day/2 night trip to Budapest, but it was cool to see the city and experience a couchsurfing event there. Cities like this, you need to do so much more (meeting people, trying foods, learning the history, etc) to really be able to appreciate it. I’d like to say you need at least a few months to do this. Unfortunately, time is scarce!