Our initial impression of Budapest (and Hungary as a whole) was an ugly city, to put it plainly. Since it was a Communist country, we expected dilapidated buildings, scary people, and dirty streets. But as Gabriel (our driver and one of the five strangers we met) put it, the city has changed, and with it every aspect of the city changed with it. And after spending two days in such a marvelous place, I can say that Budapest is way, way better than Prague. Yeah, it just had to be said.
Just a little fact for you: Budapest is divided into two sides. Conveniently, it is Buda and Pest. On the first day, we stayed in the Pest side since that was where our apartment was in.
We first went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral after arrival, since we wanted to finish all the major sites before our Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour the next day. Already you can see that this city is not the dilapidated, ruined, and dirty city we thought it would be.
So we went on top of the cathedral and this is what we saw.
After the cathedral, there was this gelato place called Gelato Rosa. It had a pretty long line outside the shop so we decided to check it out. Recommended flavor: panna cotta (thank you, sister). But I had the usual stracciatella (cookies & cream) and dark chocolate (center).
Since we arrived in the city around the afternoon, a whole day tour just wouldn’t make sense. So we decided to take the Danube River Cruise because we get to see both sides of Budapest at the best time (which is at night).
“Do you recall that night in June upon the Danube River; We listened to the landler-tune, we watched the moonbeams quiver.” – Charles Hamilton Aide
The Szechenyi thermal bath was pretty cool and such a good start to a long day of touring. They have hot and cold pools inside and outside, plus in one of the outdoor pools, there’s a whirlpool that whirls you around without having to exert any effort. It was the best.
It was off to the Buda side afterwards, starting with the Buda castle. It was pretty much like Prague Castle because even if they called themselves the ‘castle’ district, I never really got to see where the castles were at all?
But the view was pretty great.
One of the last stops was the New York Cafe, also known as “the most beautiful cafe in the world.”
Heroes’ Square and the park for the last day.