Budapest, eastern mysteries revealed

Budapaest, eastern mysteries revealed
A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter IX Part I

City: Budapest
Country: Hungary
Currency: Hungarian Forint (1€=238Ft)

Travel dates: 11-14 January 2008
Hostel: Goat Hostel

Travel buddies: Egon, Rahma, Siddharth, Meghan

Caption: Charles Bridge.

Budapest didn't strike the mind during the initial planning of the winter trip. It was rather a last minute plan than a desired location for visit when a gap between Vienna and Munich has to be filled. However, the Budapest visit turned out to be greater than pleasurable, even under minimum planning.

One good thing about travelling in Eastern Europe is that it is relatively cheap compared to other parts of Europe, especially Western Europe. In Poland, it was a great shock which was of course welcome that the expenses could be so affordable. However, it was in Budapest that I truly enjoyed the value of Euros offers.

Perhaps the city does look a little too worn out and unorganised, perhaps there were just somehow a little too much construction going on during the winter time. But the lovely sunny weather in the winter week truly accentuated the enjoyment for tourists in Budapest. Though with slight snowfall, Budapest was simply too warm to be considered as winter by the time of my visit.

Staying in a recently setup hostel at one end of the city centre, it was astonishing to learn that I had no key access to my room, because rooms were not locked in the hostel in general. Though padlock was provided by the hostel owner, who happened to be an extremely kind and polite peerson that was also very informative, I felt a little uncomfortable leaving my belongings in the hostel when I was out for exploration.

Caption: Danube from bridge (left), and from Jubileumi Park (centre), and Charles Bridge.

It wasn't discrimination, but to my fellow travellers, it is very important to always keep an eye to your belongings, especially when travelling in Eastern Europe. But don't get me wrong. They may not as wealthy as people from the western part, but it was always so interesting to learn the excitement and enthusiasm and friendliness of people from this region. It someone was really picky, I can guarantee snobbishness is something you wouldn't fing within easterners.

Budapest was really a very beautiful city. Of course, the sunshine covering the entire visit was a great enjoyment booster. The every single bridge that crosses the Danu River has its own very distinctive design. And no matter which bridge you are standing on, you will always have the greatest scenery from the both sides of the river. Though the one just at the end of the street near to my hostel was under construction, I guess it offered the best view to the more historical part of Budapest.

Caption: A market (left) and Buda Castle from Jubileumi Park.

If you haven't known, Budapest is divided into two parts; Buda and Pest which is located at the right bank and left bank of Danu River respectively. Buda is the old side of the city, every monument erected at this end of the city has extremely high historical value. By having said that, it is clearly undrstood that the Pest side is the new city district, which of course offers less attractive destinations but more modern concrete structures. However, the age of these structures are comparatively older than modern structures as have seen in other capitals.

It took me one day and night to enjoy almost everything at the Buda side. Of course, this is only feasiblt if you minus very detailed museum visit. I started my day by ascending slowly to the top of Jubileumi Park, where Szabadságszobor (Liberation Monument) is located. This is the highest point of the Budapest city and from here, a mesmerising panoramic view over the entire city, especially the Pest side, will worth your risk of falling off the hill due to icy walking path.

From the Szabadságszobor, one can slowly explore the whole Buda side by walking along the approximately five kilometres tourist destinations along the hill. These include Citadella, Buzogánytorony, Budapest Historic Museum, Halászbástya (Firsheman's Bastion), and most importantly the Budai Vár (the Buda Castle) which is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Caption: Way leading to Fisherman's Bastion (left) and one of the building in Buda Castle.

It actually does take a very long time if all these points are to be scrutinised properly. but as a museum skipper, I glided through the Buda side pretty effortlessly within a day. Personally, by simply enjoying the uphill-downhill walk was truly relaxing enough.

However, I did step into not one, but three museums. It was during the time when I was in Buda Castle. Haven't been admitted to any restroom that day had mae my bladder reached its ultimate limit. Naively thinking that there should be a toilet in one of the buildings in this vast area surrounded by massive structures, I ended up entered nearly every single building but still failed to locate a toilet.

No, do not think that I didn't open my mouth and ask. Instead, it was the confusing answers given to my simple question that led me walking fro and back several times for a total distance of about 1.5 kilometres before I finally got a zero Forint admission ticket into the Budapesti Történeti Múzeum for the toilet inside. Yes, you read it correctly. I had got a very beautiful admission ticket to the museum, but only for the use of toilet. This of course had created a buzz among my travel mates. And the result was exactly what you would have anticipated; everyone got similar ticket in the end.

Caption: Fisherman's Bastion (left) and Matthias Church near it.

If you have a sweet tooth and really like marzipan, then you should visit the marzipan museum located right at the ground floor of Hilton Hotel, next to the Fisherman's Bastion. In there, you would be amazed by all the marzipan displays which definitely require supreme skill work and consume lengthy time before finish. It was just too bad that it was nearing its closing time by the time I reached there. Though not sharing the snobbish characteristic, Hungarians do have the same working attitude as its counterparts in the rest of Europe.

Night wasn't coming early as compared to previously visited cities. But a walk from Fisherman's Bastion back to my hostel at night, along the beautifully lit Danu River marked a remarkable conclusion of the whole walking day. Amazed by our walking ability, we embarked on a journey of no return. But of course, this is coming in the next post.

Caption: Parliament as seen from Buda side (left) and Danube at night.

Note: I will be travelling to Kalimantan, Indonesia next Tuesday for two months for internship. Since internet connection in Kalimantan is slow, and I will have less time, and posting here gave me huge trouble today, I anticipate updates will not come as frequent as current. Sorry.