I’ve looked forward to visiting Budapest since the beginning of this year. I should be excited about heading to this beautiful country but I can’t. Last week I received the most devastating news.
Its funny how we plan life and future with our love ones but never prepare ourselves for death. Death is invertible and one day we would all go but its more frustrating when it creep up unexpectedly.
I would say such is life but I can’t because a phone call from my dad telling me of my grandmother passing was not just part of life. I am a strong believer but I can’t seems to find the strength to accept this passing. So forgive me if I don’t come across as happy and enthusiastic in my writing.
I love travelling from Leeds Bradford Airport. There’s nothing special about this airport but I do like that fact its only 20 minutes away from my house and it has fast free wifi. I especially got here early today to enjoy this benefit. Secondly I enjoy the whole airport experience, waiting to check in, waiting for airport staff to call the boarding gate number and wondering around duty free shops.
I almost bought Sailor Jerry as they had an off for 2 for 1 but I stopped myself. I want to remember every minute of this trip. Its very unusual for me to be travelling in the afternoon. I enjoy early flight time but unfortunately on this occasion it is not the case.
The only reasonable flight from Leeds Bradford to Budapest today is Jet2 flight LS341at 15:40.
Travelling alone is so expensive at time and was thinking of ways to cut cost and came across Airbnb. The concept is like the movie ‘The Holiday’ where Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, swap homes at Christmastime after bad breakups with their boyfriends. However with Airbnb, I didn’t need to swap my own home. (hallelujah)
Airbnb is a place for people like myself to find a flat for a night or a week. They have option where you can rent just a room or the entire house or flat.
So I thought for this trip, scrap the hotels and try and see if this is the future for holidaymakers. Through my search, I came across beautiful flats and as always I procrastinate for a while. Although I wanted to try this new and interesting venture I still had my reservations.
I came across one guys flat whereby he was asking for your passport number and other personal information which I personally felt didn’t need to know. Nevertheless life is about venturing to new experiences. You would never know what you don’t like if you never try. My slogan is to live, experience and explore so that is what I am going to do!
The staff announced my boarding gate at 3 o’clock so we all head to the boarding gate. Lined up for about 10 minutes and finally located my seat. I first wrongly sat on someone seat and was nicely advised to move myself. As I sat on my seat, called my mum to say my goodbye and waited for the pilot to move the plane. Little did I know, the plane had technical issues.
This made me a bit paranoid…. I prayed for safe journey in the air, I am very sure I could still hear a small noise coming from the rear side of the wing.
Today marks the first time I have taken notice of the clouds. It looks like foamy snow folded together to make a comfortable cushion.
I know am a bit cray cray sometimes.
The flight was delayed for an hours, finally got to Budapest at 8:20 local time. We were 4o minute behind schedule nevertheless I am just happy nothing happened in the air due to technical issue (Praise God).
At the airport I had to make a decision, keeping in mind I am already almost an hour late to meet up with Laszlo who is the person I will be renting his flat. The decision was to either take a taxi to the flat I barely remember the address or take public transport.
Mind you the cost of the taxi to the area is over €25 and the whole aim of all my travels is to cut cost or find a sustainable way to make ends meet. In order to keep Laszlo in the loop, I used the airport free wifi to text him and apologise about the lateness and took upon myself to find my own way there.
Laszlo was so sweet to have emailed me before the directions on how to get to the area on bus and the metro.
I was to take bus 200E at the Liszt Ferenc Airpot to Kobanya-Kispest and thankfully it was the last stop. I then to took the metro from Deak Ferenc Ter station and walk 200 meters to the Synagogue. The building was opposite the Synagogue building.
I am not afraid of finding my own way in a new environment but I have had to trained myself to be confident and trust in my abilities. Looking back now, it was not as bad as one would imagined but it always scary getting around unusual settings.
I was a bit nervous to meet Laszlo for the first time. I have to admit I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, if the flat would be exact as he had advertised on airbnb or if he will be a nice person who would understand me or even if I would recognise him. There was a lot of thoughts bubbling through my head and all the questions started with ‘What If’.
Rang the bell by typing the code in and Laszlo answered, my first reaction was thank God I am in the right place. He came down, such a gentleman, he showed me how to get into the building and went to the flat.
I was amazed to the see the flat, it was so cute and cosy and homey and just perfect for me. It almost reminded me of my basement flat in Leeds but even better layout, better furnitures and very warm.
Laszlo was so patient to have waited for me and more helpful to have taken his time to show me everything in the flat. He had maps of Budapest and great places to explore and eat whilst here. He introduced a restaurant called Bali Caffe right outside the flat for breakfast.
After this he escorted me to the nearest corner-shop where I could buy little things should I feel the need to cook. It was way too late to cook, went to the nearest kebab shop for some chicken spicy kebab and chip.
I am usually not a fan of chicken kebab but this was so good I have a feeling I will be here again and again at least twice before I leave Buda.
As I sat on of the most confirmable sofa and microwave my kebab, I took a deep breath and looked around I felt relieved. The journey to discovery of myself and Buda awaited for me in the morning, but right now am going to enjoy this food and catch up with my favourite shows on Youtube.
Around 12:25 to be precise all the electricity went off. Everything shut down in the flat, no wifi, and no light. I didn’t panic because it was late and that allowed me to sleep. However I was hoping by the time I woke up everything would have been up and running, wrong! Woke up to what I would say early because I am not a morning person and I do not like to wake up early. I think 7 o’clock local time but 6 o’clock UK time, its considered early for me (just saying).
Since theres no electricity in the flat, I assumed it was for the whole building ‘Wrong’ again!. Thank God for free wifi, what would I have done. Went outside and tapped into a free wifi to contact Laszlo to come help me.
He told me this had never happened before and he would come straight away. He already told me he lived on the other side of the Dunbe river so in my mind this was going to take most part of my morning.
Laszlo was so professional and quick to come by the flat to fix the issue. Now my apartment was newly renovated and the view of the Synagogue. Synagogue is one of the tourist attraction in Budapest. It is the largest Jewish house of worship in the world outside New York City.
This glitch caused me few delays, my plan for breakfast went left so decided to wonder. It was very misty but this was not going to spoil my day.
Budapest is the capital and largest city in Hungary. It is known for its cultural heritage and architectural significance. It is divided into two part by the Daube River. So you have Buda and Pest and the Chain Bridge connect its hilly Buda district with flat Pest.
Before I could do anything, came across a cafe shop called Cafe Pio. There I had Paradicsomos Brushetta and a latte.
It basically tomatoes on bread. It really easy to make, you only need slice of ciabatta bread,plump garlic cloves, basil, olive oil and pepper and ready to eat.
Hungarian currency is called Forint however most places uses Euros as well. It took me a minute to get a hang of the Forint currency.
That evening, I went to dined at Prime Steakhouse restaurant. It is located at Sas near the Erzsébet Square (Erzsébet tér) is the largest green area in Budapest’s inner city.
The square was named after Elisabeth, ‘Sisi’, wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph, in 1858.
The main attraction is the Danubius Fountain, located in the middle of the square, symbolising Hungary’s rivers.
I had the privilege to speak the restaurant manager name Béla Kovács. The steakhouse is one of the best in Budapest, if you don’t believe me check trip advisor! It is a five star prime steak and come with amazing and expensive wine around the world.
Bela explained to me in order to achieve this standard as a manger his mission is to train his staff with the right tools. He mentioned that communication is important and effective tool to enable him to run a successful restaurant.
The restaurant moved from Duda to Pest area five years ago as Pest is the urban centre of the city, where you would find more tourists. This areas is populated with hotels, cafe shop and restaurant therefore it was right business move.
Bela’ s been in the hospitality industry for over ten years and hold a lot of experience especially when it come to displaying excellent customer service. He understand the importance to meet customers expectation.
I ordered Rib-Rye Argentin Angus with French Potatoes Casserole with Comte Cheese. OMG!!! it was succulent and month watering. I must say the deco and the setting of the restaurant was stunning.
The service level is what you would expect for a five star restaurant. They were friendly and welcoming which I found refreshing because Hungarian are not known to be friendly.
The next day I jumped on the hop on hop off tour bus. There is about three companies operation this tour service. I bought ticket from Big Bus Tours after negotiation for 5000 forint for 3 days which included a free river cruise on the Danube river.
The weather on the other hand was not on my side. It consistently rained through out. This made it a little hard for the free walking tour. I was extremely disappointed but tried to not let it affect my time in Budapest.
There you would find statue of liberty (bet you thought the statue of liberty was only in USA).
Its a communist statue erected in 1947 to commemorate the liberation of Budapest and Hungary from the Nazi rule. It is also a communist monument to celebrate Hungary’s being part of the Soviet rule.
Since it was raining, waited for the next bus and headed to Grand Market Place. Its a huge indoor market filled with various Hungarian traditional food. Not only would you find fresh food to buy from the traders, upstairs there are restaurants that sell local cuisine.
I however walked out the market to the inner city for lunch at Verne restaurant to try local cuisine. I tried Goulash traditional soup as I feel the best way to know a country and its people is to learn about its gastronomy, and try some of the characteristic dishes.
After lunch I jumped on the tour bus again to visit Buda Castle. On my way to the castle I learned interesting fact about the city in terms of the film industry. Budapest has been the scene or the set of dozens of movies.
Since the 90s the city has been home to many international film productions. Budapest use its landscape to disguise cities like Paris and Berlin. Movies like A Good Day to Die Hard , Underworld and many more. Also did you know the guy invented the rubik’s cube was Hungarian? His name was Ernő Rubik. There are other inventions invented by native Hungarians and they have also received a Nobel Prize on more than 20 occasions. I was surprise to hear Vitamin C as well as Ballpoint Pen was an invention of a Hungarian scientists.
The castle date back to the 13 century and is part of what is known as the Castle District, which has several medieval and Baroque houses, churches and other buildings, and there you would find Royal Palace, St Matthias Church, and the Fisherman’s Bastion – one of the city’s most recognized icons. The rain ruined the incredible architectural significance of this building.
Parliament building is the third largest in Europe. It sits on the bank of the Danube. The tour bus included free cruise so I made good use of it. Went by the parliament on the cruise tour.
The last place I visited was the Hösök tere which also known as Heroes’ square. Is one of the most visited sights of the Hungarian capital, it is situated in front of the City Park, at the end of the Andrássy Avenue, one of the most important streets of Budapest.
The millenial monument was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin.
In the middle of Heroes’ square stands a 36 metres high corinthian column with the statue of Archangel Gabriel on the top, the symbol of the Roman Catholic religion.
The tomb of the unknown soldier can also be found in the square. The square is also the site of two important museums – the Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Art. If you have time its worth visiting.
Its so unfortunate that I visited Budapest in the middle of winter, cold and rainy. The city is populated with public baths built by the Romans of which still stands to this day. The Széchenyi Baths in Pest are the largest bathing complex in Europe with both indoor medicinal baths and outdoor pools.
I spent my last night at the Szimpla Kert. It is also known as the ruin pub. It marks a place on the drinking tourist trail. And remains a landmark place for a drink. It’s a huge building with nooks filled with bric-a-brac, grafitti, art and all manner of unexpected items.
The time has come to head back home. I would say Budapest been enjoyable but I wished the weather had been good. I didn’t enjoy as much as I would have wanted so I have made a plan to come back August next year for a proper wonder.