It’s been a year since my short trip to Budapest, but the memories remain vivid in my head.
Budapest was an afterthought. “Oh hey, the flight from Prague to Budapest is really cheap. Should we make a detour?” That was how it was decided. Prague was the main course, and Budapest was more like a dessert; something sweet to end the trip.
That’s how we ended up touring Budapest in only 2 days.
Was it enough? Of course not. There are many things I wish had been different about that trip. I wish the weather had been better, and the trip a lot longer. But we got the first taste of this beautiful city, and I vowed to myself that I will be back. And this time, I will plan and explore it properly.
We arrived at Budapest late in the night, just a few days before the new year. We had no time to explore the city, so we just had dinner in a small deli close to our hotel, and retreated to our room.
Waking up the next day to a grey sky and heavy rain, we chose the Hungarian National Museum to be our shelter and first destination. We stayed there for a couple of hours, before having lunch at a ruins-turned-restaurant called Mazel Tov. It was amazing. Hidden between the dilapidated buildings in the Jewish district, this restaurant blended modestly with the surroundings, and only after we entered did we get how magnificent this place was.
First stop: The Hungarian National Museum.
It turns out that I don’t have a single picture of the beautiful restaurant. Only this picture of delicious dishes, including the best chicken shawarma I’ve had in my life
After lunch, we continued our trip to the thermal bath. Not to have a bath, but just to see how it looked like. The metro ride to the thermal bath was a treat on its own. Everything was… beautiful, for the lack of a better word. The small, rickety train painted a picture of the old Budapest, and the metro stations had quirks in every corner. Pretty, with a touch of old charms.
One of the metro stations we passed by, on the way to the thermal bath.
The thermal bath building.
We ended the day with a quick visit to the Christmas market and a long stroll along the river. What can I say about the views? The lit Fisherman’s Bastion across the river, the majestic Hungarian Parliament Building in front of us… No photos or words could ever do this place justice.
The crowded Christmas market, with St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the background.
The view of Buda at night, taken from Pest.
Our second (and last) day was hard. The weather was more unforgiving, dipping below zero in the morning with the wind blowing harshly. But I had a lot I wanted to see, and we didn’t have much time. A lot of layers and coffee breaks could only do so much to keep us warm, but even with our frozen toes and fingers, we were impressed with Budapest. The Shoes on the Danube Bank. The parliament building. The Fisherman’s Bastion and the Citadella. The long walk we had just made it all the more memorable.
The Shoes on the Danube Bank, a poignant memorial to remember the Jews who were shot by the Arrow Cross miliatiamen during the WW II.
The steps of the Fisherman’s Bastion there was the spot where I dropped and cracked my phone later that day. Even this bad luck didn’t tarnish our experience and memories of Budapest.
This view of the parliament building from the Fisherman’s Bastion remains one of my favorite photos of all time.
The majestic statue at the Citadella, overlooking the city.
Another favorite photo, taken at the Citadella. This photo also hangs on our fridge at home.
Ah, Budapest. I shouldn’t have been so naive to assume that 2 days was enough. I will be back next time – when the weather is warmer, the days are longer, and when I have enough time to explore it properly and do it justice.