I went on holiday! My week in Budapest

A few weeks ago, Mr C took me to Budapest for my birthday. I don’t go on holiday very often; I find the whole process quite stressful really, but once I am away I feel much more zen!

My opinion of Budapest or Buda-pesht as our driver would say; it’s very scenic, very very cold, and a real mix of the old and new.  Rickety old trolley buses pass many, many Starbucks branches.

The Terror Museum Budapest

Best sight by far, was The Terror Museum. It was an amazing war museum, such a brilliant experience where you start on the top floor, and work to the bottom. It covers Hungary’s history and involvement in the Second world war. The only negative is that not everything is translated; there are info sheets to take away but nevertheless judging by the amount of English speaking tourists it would’ve helped us understand more of the exhibits.

The basement is a reconstruction of the real prisons; very eerie stuff.

We also went to the Franz Liszt museum.  We both wanted to see if because we were both Music students once! But it was average; it is essentially 3 rooms and a group of grumpy Hungarian women gossiping in the lobby.

The Franz Liszt Museum Budapest

You have to wear protective shoe covers before you go in! Not that there’s much to look at!

The Franz Liszt Museum Budapest 1

It was extremely cold in Budapest – I am talking face hurting cold, and I could feel lots of skin chapping off – painful.  If you are going you need thermals, seriously.

I wasn’t as keen on the food as I thought I’d be. Pancakes, soups, sausages and stews (although everyone seemed to be eating Pizza) are national dishes, but I found a lot of the stews I tried a bit bland, and everything was over salted – bearing in mind I frigging love salt – this was salty to the point where my lips were tingling.

Another thing we kept finding was that we were being short changed a lot, or people were rounding up all the time.  It actually said in my guidebook that this was a problem they found with a lot of restaurants ripping off tourists, and the Government shut the worst ones down a few years ago.  I found that taxi drivers don’t like to give change! In a 24 hour pancake house we found the prices being doubled when it got to paying (and they food was stone cold too, despite being microwaved – urgh) and in some other place was told the price they confirmed at first was not the price, it was actually per 100 grams.

Hungarian Goulash Soup

One of the worst restaurant experiences was a place we never even made it into – Rita’s Piano Bar and Restaurant, right next to our hotel.  We were browsing the menu, as you do, and some guy stuck his head out asking if we needed anything (pushy!). We just asked if they were still serving the ‘Tourist Menu’ he said yes, then stuck his head back in.

2 minutes later, still debating whether we wanted to eat somewhere that served sliced lamb brains and had a dodgy violinist in the corner, the same dude sticks his head out and goes,

“Look, are you coming in OR NOT?”

Us “We’re just deciding”

Him *tuts* “Whatever” and slams the door in our faces!

To be honest, that put me right off and after that we ate in places where doors couldn’t be slammed and prices couldn’t be messed with (aka. McDonalds).

Hungarian Goulash Paprika Paste

Paprika and Saffron are popular in Budapest. Paprika paste and Sweet paprika is worth buying since it’s hard to get in the UK (so they say). Saffron is cheap here too.

Believe it or not I managed to haul make up in Budapest! Hungarian women are pretty glamorous bunch, very groomed and well turned out.  They seem to have a lot of German brands so I did do a quick sweep in their drugstores (Rossman and DMs were the big ones). They don’t seal many of the cosmetics up – most of the products I looked at had been opened so I had to check everything carefully first.

What else? Journey out and in was truly horrendous, I won’t even bore you but KLM suck and Charles De Gaulle airport sucks, and don’t ever do a 13 hour wait in it overnight.  There was little security and lots of strange people wandering in to eat the leftover food on the tables. I am all for people finding some shelter from the elements and getting food, but when you are slumped on a cold bench at 4am in a near deserted airport and someone sits next to you chanting ‘huma huma huma’ and starts shaking his trunk to some kind of drum beat you can’t hear, it’s a teeny weeny bit scary.

And those floor cleaners! We watching them drive back and forth in their cleaning cars about 200 times – and the floor was still streaky.

Charles De Gaulle Airport sucks

13 hour wait = Hotel room.

Despite my er – moaning, I did have a nice time and it is always interesting too see a new country and culture.

Where was your last holiday?

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  1. Yazmin says

    Wow! Thats terrible!
    My last holiday was my parents home country of bangladesh. And it was pretty much the same as yours. They hitch up the price because they can tell we are from the uk. You have to go places with a person who lives there i.e my cousins, if you dont want to ger ripped off, Even though it is relatively cheap over there. But its still not the point. The small cheaper restaurents would overcharge, and we went to a restarent under a shopping complex, the rice had stones in it, and when when we complained to the waiter, he said its not a problem! We just ended up eating at our family home all the time, and if we ate out, we ate at the expensive places as the prices were fixed and the service was really good.
    I wouldnt recommend any cosmetics from there as its all watered down and all horrible colours, and look like its been pre used. The only place i managed to find decent cosmetics was at a supermarket but even then i was sceptical. Ive been twice to bangladesh, i dont think im going to go again.

  2. says

    I found this write-up so refreshing, Row! All I ever hear about travel is the sunny, “it will change your LIFE, man!” BS or true horror stories like “He got cut up and eaten.” I’m sure the majority of travel experiences are more bleh to lukewarm, like yours! That said, sorry it was a bit pits. I hate priggish people who say they’d never eat at McDonald’s in a foreign country (though I’m vegan so I’d never eat at one anyway) and their reason is they can just go to a local restaurant they don’t have at home… sometimes tourists get taken advantage of, and I think that’s a perfectly valid reason to stick to a place with posted prices!

  3. jamilla says

    So that’s why you spent the night in bloody CDG!! I was fortunate to visit Prague with a Czech colleague on a business trip so I had a positive experience – I was steered away from the worst! I do agree with you about the food – And I went to the GOOD restaurants….

  4. says

    I know of some people who visited Hungary & Budapest recently but it was on a package tour so the experience was mostly positive and I was told it was a beautiful place. I’m now not quite sure its a place I’d go to by myself though. I was planning to 😛

  5. says

    Wow what a place to go, I have heard good and bad reports on Budapest, but like Paris B said they were package deals – we try to go to “different” places but this year we went to Sorrento on our Honeymoon, even though I am half Italian I have to admit the attitude in some of the restaurants we ate in was similar to the one you came across. But it is a beautiful place and I loved it.

  6. Jen says

    Oh dear, I’m afraid that’s kinda put me off going to Budapest a bit! Especially the experience with the restaurant that slammed the door shut in your faces….how rude! My first port of call for food in any foreign country is usually maccy d’s or burger king…even if you can’t read or speak the language, you pretty much know what you’re getting at least! My last holiday was ages ago! Went to Paris for a week, loved the city and food was brilliant

  7. says

    I’ve never heard about the restaurant price thing before. My family and I used to go almsot weekly to Szeged for dinner or something and the food and service was always great. We never felt ripped off. Odd.

    • Row says

      Hi Misha

      I’m glad you had a good experience! Unfortunately for us it wasn’t that we felt ripped off, we actually were. The totals never added up or the change we were handed back and I wasn’t willing to get into a fight everywhere we ate! Apart from that I quite enjoyed the break but I can’t say I’d go again x

  8. Gordita says

    Don’t think I will go to Budapest alone! :S But I’d still like to go – one person’s dream holiday is another’s hell!

    My last holiday was a trip to Lima – 3 weeks turned into 4 weeks when I lost my passport, what a palavar! Totally my own fault.
    I had a lovely time though (I lived there for a year during university, so I was familiar with the city and I have friends there), but I will NEVER fly via the USA again. Or take the British Embassy at their word. They vaguely told my mother that it was “complicated” to fly back via the USA but that it could be done – yes, but it required a special visa and you had to make an appointment with the USA Embassy and pay 10 dollars and ARGH it was just so complicated. The British Embassy doesn’t have requirements like that – you can just go in (providing you hand in your mobile at reception) I never did go inside the USA Embassy in the end. My mother shelled out for a flight that was going to leave 2 days later but it emerged (British Embassy explained) that I would have to wait at least a week for the special American visa. So my mother, a saint, paid for ANOTHER flight flying via Spain so that the special visa could be skipped. Miami Airport was horrid anyway, dead and soulless.

    To leave Peru, an entry visa is needed anyway (just procedure). So I had to go to a dodgy part of Lima and paid a guy to help me around the official papers office. I was aware that I didn’t HAVE to use his services but I am actually grateful to him anyway because he made it all so much simpler.

    Obvious Tip: Don’t lose your passport!!

  9. Margit says

    Its sad to hear, that U had a bad time in Budapest — I am Hungarian, living in the capital. If it makes you peace, let me tell you, that many places in Hungary (especially near Lake Balaton) dont care, weather U are local or turist, they cheat and cheat endless. It is a bit better, if U look verry self -conscious eg. Wearing suits and so on, but most of those Hungarian people, who would like to enjoy their dinner and arent aggressive enough to argue with the manager about prices, avoid the so called “traditional Hungarian restaurants”. We go to the McD’s or more neat restaurants aveliable worldwide. Hope, next time U will jave a better holyday here :-)