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