Today is our last day in Budapest and we plan on making the most of it. We have been told spending some time at one of the baths is a must, having a drink at a ruin pub and trying langos so we are going to try all of these experiences today.
The Hungarian State Opera House first opened in 1884 and is only a couple of blocks from our apartment. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings in Europe. It certainly is impressive and I can only imagine what it would be like to experience a concert or show here, maybe next time.
Along the walk back to our apartment, there are lots of shops and we are able to do some souvenir shopping. We continue our walk to the Great Market Hall which first opened in 1897. It was badly damaged during WWII and was extensively restored in the 1990s. CNN travel has named it the best market in Europe. It is 3 floors: basement – game, fish and supermarket, ground floor – fresh produce and meats, second floor – Hungarian arts and crafts alongside bars, cafes and food stalls. We spend quite a bit of time here not only are there great places to shop it is a very interesting building. As we leave, it is apparent e will need to bring our purchases back to our apartment (thankfully it isn’t a far walk.)
As lunch time approaches we decide to find a place that sells Langos. Langos is deep fried bread that is both crips (edges) and soft (middle) with delicious toppings – garlic, sour cream, shredded cheese … I can tell you might not have been our healthiest meal but it was delicious! While we are in the area, we decided one more visit to Gelarto Rosa is necessary.
Our friends from wine/river cruise insisted that we spend some time at the baths. We decide to go to Szechenyi Baths. This was the first thermal bath to open in Pest in 1881. It is an interesting experience and very different from anything we have done. There are 18 pools, one that has human lazy river type of thing in the middle, numerous saunas and whirlpools. We spent most of our time in the outside pools mostly in the cooler pool, it was only 28’C. The pools aren’t very deep about my shoulders. However, we did go into the deeper (about my chin level) and hotter pool (38’C) as there was a giant screen set up to watch the Olympics. People weren’t swimming in the pools, just standing or sitting on the benches and relaxing.
For supper tonight, we try a Hungarian dish (our host had warned us that most of this food would be extremely spicy) paprika chicken with lecso. It was delicious, another meal I am going to try to recreate once I am home (and yes I did buy some paprika in Budapest.)
We continue our night at City Park. Budapest is full of treasures, months could be spent here exploring and enjoying all this city has to offer. Live music is played outside of the Art Gallery and people are dancing in the street to the cover of George Micheal’s Faith. Heroes’ Square was laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary. It is the largest and most impressive square in Budapest. The tomb of the unknown soldier lays at rest here.
Heroes’ Square is full of so many sights. I can only imagine what it would have been like in for the 1000 anniversary of Hungary.
Knowing this is our last night in Budapest we return to the pub close to our apartment for some more of those onion rings (paprika makes them so tasty!) We were also told about ruin pubs specifically Szimpla. Tonight is the night we go for this experience. It is an experience that is hard to describe other than saying if you are in Budapest it is worth going for a drink. It is the most complex and best known ruin pub in Budapest. Tonight, it is a busy place to be, but I believe this is normal. The interior is unique – various contemporary art, giant bunny, old bathtubs, lots of different bars and rooms. It is an experience and a good way to end our final night in Budapest.
Some questions my friends / family have been asking about our Budapest adventure:
- How easy is it to get around?
The subway and metro run frequently and are easy to navigate. Budapest is large and spread out but depending where you are staying it is possible to walk to many places. The cobblestone is old and uneven so you do need to watch where you are walking.
- How is it with the Language?
It is our experience that everyone speaks English. All signs and menus also have English. Sometimes we were greeted in Hungarian first and then they will quickly say, English? Any attempt at Hungarian is appreciated and they seem to get excited at our attempts. I only mastered two words though: sure (beer) and kosonom (thank you).
- How friendly are the locals?
Everyone was friendly and helpful. They are very welcoming to tourists. There are tourist information booths around the city, just to give advice, maps and directions.
- What is the temperature like?
It has been hot in 30s’C. We were told that last week it had been in the 40’c ranges. The heat combined with all the touring around will ensure you will break a sweat.
- How is the food?
Sea food is the main food here. There is also lots of Italian and a variety food (even saw a Mexican restaurant)
Desserts: gelato, funnel cake
Treats: salt stick (basically a pretzel stick), paprika chips
- Are we able to keep up with the Olympics
No sports bars like North America, but some pubs do have Olympics on. The Hungarians are very excited about their swimmers and water polo teams. We did spend some time watching while at the bath. We have been getting our Canadian Olympic updates from the Internet and apps.
- Any lessons learned?
The streets and sidewalks are uneven and have holes, pay attention to the ground or you may stumble, or fall or sprain the ligaments in your knee.
Budapest, thanks for all the wonderful experiences!