Budapest – Day 1

“We will now be entering land of the hipsters.  You can spot them wearing Nike shoes, even though they don’t run, and BP Shop clothing,” our tour guide warned.  It has been 18 hours since we landed in Budapest last night and I think we’ve been awake for over 12.  In less than a day, I’ve decided Budapest ranks high on places to visit.  From the moment we reached our Airbnb in District VII, it has been go-go-go.  We quickly showered, then headed to Buddha Bar Hotel to meet friends.  Budapest is a city you will rarely need to take a taxi or public transportation.  You can walk, as we did, from the downtown area near the Elisabeth Bridge  up to the Ruin Bar District in 20 minutes.  The Ruin Bar District gets its name from the many ruin pubs which originally served as community centers showcasing films, concerts, etc… and due to their success have transformed into unique places to grab a drink.  Day or night, the Szimpla Kert should be on anyone’s itinerary while in Budapest:

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Szmipla Kert

I’ve lived in Chicago and Austin for a combined 8 years so I consider myself well versed on the nightlife scene of both towns.  And although both have an impressive abundance of bars, I give the award to Budapest.  Even though it was Pentecost and crowds were lighter as usual, I could tell these bars transform into a lively ball of energy as the night goes on.  Put Anker’T on your list of ruin pubs as well:

 

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Anker’T

I could write an entire post about other watering holes in Budapest that are worth checking out but I think I’ll focus on the big picture and return to that topic another time.  As with any city, I strongly urge taking advantage of a free walking tour.  Its best to do this at beginning of trip since you’ll likely see part of the city and it’ll give you a good baseline of knowledge to work with for rest of the trip.  After hitting the snooze button several times following our first night out, we stumbled into the 15:30 crowd with our guide Anthony to stroll through the Jewish District of Budapest.

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Gathering of 15:30 free walking tour

You must take the time in a city like Budapest to learn and study it’s history.  Without this understanding, you will struggle to get a grasp on the culture and people.  Budapest has a history unlike others.  We spent most our time in the 1941-1956 era when the country experienced several different leadership regimes and suffered mass amounts of innocent casualties.  There are many reminders of these dark times through the city and I’ll suggest a few in my next post.

As I mentioned, Budapest is beyond reasonably priced so go big on at least one meal.  For us that took place in the Michelin Guide restaurant, Aszu.  If you book in advance you might be lucky to enjoy it’s incredible interior but the outside patio is a great alternative.  As we noticed in most places, the staff is incredibly kind and welcoming.  Our total bill came to about $45/each which included one of the nicer bottle of wines, several starters and a main course (did I mentioned it’s cheap there yet?).

Our first day of Budapest was filled with more food and drinks than sightseeing, resulting in a jam-packed second day.  In my next post I’ll share our one-day itinerary for sightseeing in Budapest including the best spot for an afternoon nap.

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