This post is mainly for my friend Luna, who is relatively new to Hungary, inspired by several conversations we’ve had recently. But also for anyone who is new, or who plans to visit. It’s not all negative in this part of the world. So here are a few gems.
This might be almost too obvious to mention. Being in Central Europe definitely has its perks. You’re never too far away from various cultures, and in Hungary especially you can sample Germanic, Slav, Romance (more of the other meaning later), and Balkan cultures whenever the mood hits you.
2. The Capital
Budapest has many nicknames, Pearl of the Danube, Paris of the East, and Party Town being just two of them. Admittedly, the last one is more artistic license than official moniker, yet there’s truly something for everyone. Families can chill out in the hills of Buda (especially if taking the Children’s Railway), tourists can let their hair down and then nurse their hangovers in various cafés, restaurants, and even bars, and students can party to their heart’s content. Sightseeing never feels like (too much of) a chore, because there’s always a café or bar to spark your interest. Or even a mall.
True Hungarian hospitality is indeed a miracle to behold. Guests are meant to feel like royalty, and Hungarians take this very seriously. Once you’re invited to their house, you’re expected to feel better than you’ve ever felt before. And you really and truly will. From being shown the family heirlooms to sampling homemade Pálinka (that evil Schnaps-like drink that has tested the best of men), you’ll never forget your visit to a Hungarian home.
We’ve all heard of goulash, and of course paprika. While gulyásleves is certainly nothing to scoff at, how about trying some pörkölt, or any other dish containing chicken, duck, or pork. In fact, if you love poultry and pigs on your plate you’ve definitely come to the right place. But leave some room for dessert, the cakes here are nothing to sneer at.
5. Thermal Baths
Royalty and writers used to come here to get back into shape by dipping in and out of the Thermal Baths several times a day. And with different places for different ailments (or just tastes), you’re well served no matter what it is you’re searching for. Definitely visit the Gellért Baths in the Gellért Hotel, worth seeing just for the interior alone. And the water’s not too shabby either.