Coming from Czech and Slovakia, Hungary was a whole new world. The biggest difference was the food, it was finally delicious, mostly because they use loads of fat and paprika in everything. The beer was worse, but the wine better, and the language was a whole new mumble jumble of sounds I couldn’t understand. More people spoke English, probably because of how touristy Budapest is, and that wasn’t a surprise. Budapest is a beautiful city, Buda and Pest separated by the Danube, connected by many beautiful bridges, full of green parks, old castles and towering churches.
I love visiting churches in Europe, they’re some of the most beautiful examples of architecture over the centuries and the wealth of religion. The procedure of visiting churches is always the same – after you enter, you feel the cool air and still silence of the reverent hall. Then you take a few steps down the center aisle, your boots always clicking a bit too loud, and after you get a load of the religious paintings, gold fixtures and antique wooden furniture, you spin around to stare in awe at the organ, hundreds of tall and shining pipes at the back of the church.
Budapest is also known as a party place, the night-life district in the Jewish quarter boasting the 3rd best bar in the world (according to who, I’m not sure, but Lonely planet also loves it). Its a ruin bar, the gutted out frame of a protected building that costs too much money to repair, so some guys buy it for cheap and just turn into a public space of graffiti, broken down electronics and mismatched furniture. Then the crowds come from all over and buy their cheap drinks and delicious food, filling the hollowed out space and abandoned rooms to the brim.
Hungary is also famous for its baths. Its second only to Iceland for geothermal pools, but with bigger numbers, the baths in Hungary become a public bathing ground for entire towns. I went to Szechenyi bath, a spa with more than 15 pools and hottubs, at least 8 saunas and steam rooms, and at night time the place becomes a pool-party disco club. We lazed in the various temperatures of water, the coldest dip being 16`C and the hottest around 40. I shed a kilo of skin and sweat, but felt like a new born baby afterwards.
Another ecstatic moment was wine tasting in a crazy lightning and thunder storm – the rain poured down on us in buckets at the Jásdi wine cellar, and we drank wine for nearly 2 hours for something like 6 euros. There were another things that made the trip epic, but it was these kind of simple moments that I was most enthusiastic about. We watched the storm near us over Lake Balaton, and both the lake and sky turned dark grey, but a few sea snakes and ducks swam past us just jovially enough to remind us that the storm would pass and everything would be ok, as did the rainbows that broke all over the horizon a few hours later.