The Grand Tour of Budapest

Thursday morning and I’m putting the transit woes behind me. Its a new day in a new city and I’m ready to go it.

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Sunday book stands

Jorel takes me on the grand tour walking across Budapest’s famed bridges, the grand market, the Citadel, castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and finally ending with a coffee on the riverfront. I’ve been to Europe before (Iceland and around Reykjavik), but this is my first time at an old world European city. The most fascinating thing here so far is really the amazing architecture. I talked a bit about this in my previous post on Toronto, where I describe the old world feel of the city compared to shiny, new Vancouver. So maybe if I was from Toronto, it wouldn’t quite be so novel, but coming from a city where buildings over 100 years old are considered relics, the ones here blow Vancouver out of the water. Concrete, stone, and bricks, along with the usual embellishments show the age of these buildings. This is clearly a building style that would no longer be financially feasible to be built today. One of the most enjoyable is definitely the inward facing courtyards in all the apartments and hotels that I’ve seen. This gives a shared space for everyone living in the building, and everyone also gets a nice balcony away from the traffic and noise of the streets.

St. Stephen’s Basillica
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Continually fascinated by the gates and doorways in Budapest.

When I walked around the city, I thought that everything looked like a mix between industrial age and communist style buildings. I did a little research and it turns out that Hungary was under communist occupation for the better part of the 1940’s to 1980’s. This would explain the influence in the overall look of the city. For better or for worse, it has left a very Soviet-y look to the city, which I have never seen before.

It is hard to deny the unique beauty that Budapest seems to unfold the further you look in its narrow alleyways. I’ve talked before about how going for a run around a new city is a great way to see sights while working out. I did a lap around the old city walls of Chiang Mai in Thailand, and thanks to Jorel, we did a 5.5km lap around Maragaret Island in the Danube. The island itself is kinda shabby, but the views are stunning.

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Some random bar where I tried goulash for the first time.
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Vicky Barcelona is the name, tapas is her game.

As far as food goes, Budapest offers excellent dining options from different cuisines. We ourselves had a fantastic Italian meal at Comme Chez Soi in its cozy wine filled dining area. On our last night we decided to get some tapas at Vicky Barcelona, and the food there is solid. The grilled cuttlefish is particularly smokey and savoury. This I’m told is a well trodden hangout for the Spanish speaking students that study in Budapest, as the whole right side turns into a reggaeton bar after dinner hours. Honestly this place is an amazing time and is definitely worth checking out! Bonus points for the drunk slices at Pizza ME, where you can add a bunch of arugula on top of your pizza to make it “healthier”.

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