Budapest on a Budget

As I lay here on our last night in Budapest, I am reminiscing about our short, but sweet, stay here. We’ve had a great time exploring the city and making more memories.

We began with another very successful Airbnb, in a great location in Budapest, on the Pest side. We had taken the bus from Bratislava and a few hours later we had arrived. We hopped the metro and made our way to the closest stop to our apartment.

*Sidenote: for a metro ticket here in Budapest we are paying 1.15 euros…in Vienna we were paying 2.20 euros for the same thing! *

We met our host and she showed us our room, and of course it is lovely. It was early evening by the time we put our bags down, so we decided to go for a walk into the city and to find some food. It was about a half hour walk into the city centre from where we live, but it is an amazing walk. This was our first glimpse into Budapest, and we were not dissapointed. I kept hearing myself say the word “beautiful” over and over again. That is truly what it is.

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The city is filled with amazing churches, monuments, government buildings and statues! And that Parliament building. Can we talk about that Parliament building for just a sec?

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The third largest Parliament building in Europe, was built between 1884 and 1902. It has 691 rooms!! We weren’t able to go on a tour inside, but that is a very popular thing to do here. Remember: we are on a budget!

As we were walking along the riverside, we noticed a peculiar memorial.

Named Shoes on The Danube Bank, this memorial was designed in honour of the (mainly) Budapest Jews who were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the Danube River so the water would carry away their bodies. This monument gives remembrance to the 3,500 people shot at the Danube River in 1944-45 during the time of the Arrow Cross terror.  I must say, it was quite a chilling monument. Someome even left a pair of their own shoes with some flowers in them. We took some photos and looked at the shoes for quite some time.

So we had a great first evening walking around and enjoying the sights. We stayed on the Pest side of the river, waiting until the next day to cross over one of the many bridges to see the other side. That first evening, we set our sights on a little hike on the Buda side that we knew we could get great views from once at the top.

So, the next morning we had our eggs and bacon and were off for a walking day around the city! We crossed the first bridge and walked along the river on the Buda side, where we had the first look at the Parliament from across the water. Again- beautiful.

This was a hot day, 35 degrees Celsius…but we were ready to do some exploring. We walked for maybe an hour from our apartment to the beginning of the hike up the hill, which we learned was named Gellért Hill.

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The hill is volcanic and it still has many geothermal springs that supply the baths that surround the hill. It was a beautiful walk, but quite steep. Many steps, but it was mostly in the shade so we were happy about that. And not to mention there were beautiful views the whole way.

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At the top, we were looking at Pest. It felt as if no matter how far we looked in any direction, the city never stopped. (That could also be because I wasn’t wearing my glasses but who knows…)

At the top were massive statues, the main one of a woman holding a leaf. It is actually one of the only Communist-era monuments that has not been removed to a “Statue Park”. In Hungary,  it is called the Liberty Statue, or Freedom Statue.

 

After we spent some time at the top and I had to physically peel myself away from the ladies selling 4 euro Magnum ice cream bars, we mozied our way down the other side of the hill to see some more of the city. We ended up at the bottom of the hill at the Gellért Thermal Baths, and wondered if we should come back tomorrow to go there. We walked back across the bridge that goes directly into the city centre, and slowly strolled through the bustling streets filled with markets, cafes, restaurants and more. We finally found a more reasonably priced ice cream, and I ate it as if that was the last gelato I will ever taste again.

We slowly made our way back to our apartment, stopping along the way to look at the sights.

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It seemed every street we turned our heads down, we saw something notable.

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Robin being a super tourist with huge statues.

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We also saw many boats that were offering cruises along the Danube river during the day, or a cruise with dinner and drinks in the evenings. This is something we would like to do someday when we come back to Budapest, but as for this trip, it will have to wait.

That night we stopped at a traditional Hungarian restaurant, and were pleasently surprised with the food and the prices!

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We each got a Hungarian dish, mine was chicken stuffed with onions, mushrooms and cottage cheese. Robin got a gypsy pork steak with some pickled veggies. We had these (huge) meals and 3 pints in total and that cost 4000 Hungarian Forint which is 19$ CAN, 120kr. Amazing! We were so full and happy leaving Lecso Hungarian Restaurant.

The next day marked our last full day here in Budapest, so we decided that we could not leave without going to a medicinal thermal bath, which one must do while in Budapest. We looked around online at the many baths here, and had a hard time choosing one. It ended up being between the two most common baths, and we decided on Széchenyi. This is the most popular one, which I most often would not like to choose, but we decided that we would go for the experience, since this is one of the largest medicinal thermal baths in Europe. Also, seeing as I don’t like water or crowds, this seemed an unlikely activity for me. Nonetheless, we pushed through and made our way to the baths.

Of course we picked the hottest day to go to outdoor hot pools.

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After waiting in line and finally getting into the area, we showered and started to explore this maze of baths. There were countless pools of varying temperatures, from 20 degrees to 38 degrees.

They have saunas and massage rooms and a lap pool, they have fitness pools and plunge pools and steam rooms (which were my all time favorite).

Here is a map of the whole complex.

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So we had a few things to do! We tried a few of the indoor pools, but they were quite crowded so we didn’t really want to stay too long in those. We went outside and had a look at the outdoor pools. We laid in the hot water in the sun and just relaxed.

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Our favorite was definitely the steam rooms. The second we went to was the Chamomile steam room and that was the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever experienced. So cool.

We stayed a few hours and enjoyed the sun and the steam, and we were really happy we decided to go. If I were to come back to Budapest, I would absolutely go back to some of the thermal baths, but I don’t think I would go back to these ones, strictly because of the amount of people. There are many other complexes in Budapest, and in Hungary, that would be great as well, and not so crowded.

All in all, we had a great time here in Budapest, Hungary. We were able to meet some locals, and eat some traditional food. We were able to see Budapest on a budget, but still feel like we saw so much of the city. I will end this post now with some beautiful shots that Robin took from one of the bridges overlooking the city at night. What an amazing place, thank you Budapest. ❤

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-Sarah

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