Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This is David here, guest blogging about my vacation to Budapest in response to Abbie's request.

My Budapest, Hungary trip took place back in the spring of 2008 with Abbie and my younger brother Peter. When we first arrived, the renter of our hostel told us to meet him at his hostel in the city. Upon arrival, we observed that this "hostel" looked suspiciously like a private apartment building, which was confirmed by the friendly local wondering why we kept trying to buzz our way into the building.

The guy finally showed up, though, and brought us to a private apartment around the corner, which was pretty upscale living! The apartment even had automatic checkout, he said. All we had to do when we left was to lock the door from the outside, and then chuck our keys in through a window.

Budapest, like many European cities, has gorgeous architecture. We spent most of our time just walking around the city and soaking in the beauty. Below is St. Stephen's Basilica, an example of this architecture. The main draw of this cathedral is not its splendor, though, but its sacred relic: the thousand-year-old mummified right hand of St. Stephen himself. This hand is worth a pilgrimage by itself.Budapest was initially two cities (Buda and Pest) separated by a river, with one of the cities up on a hill. We climbed the monstrous hill one afternoon, and the view from the top was gorgeous. This is the main government building/castle, seen from atop the mountain.

Speaking of hiking, we strolled through about a dozen different parks as well. Budapest really had a lot of well-landscaped parks that provided a calm retreat from the city. However, as you can see below, all of the walking was a little exhausting on our feet. Peter and I are enjoying a much-deserved rest.

My favorite part of this city was how slow-paced it was. Because it doesn't have dozens of museums and the like, we didn't feel pressured to dash around and see everything. Therefore, we were able to spend quite a bit of time hanging out at outdoor cafes, sampling the local potent potables, and watching the people stroll by. It was very relaxing and enjoyable, and is not something I have experienced as well in other European cities.

The most notable attraction of Budapest, however, are its public baths. Budapest boasts the largest European medicinal bath, which seemed to me like nothing so much as a warm swimming pool; I'm not sure how medicinal it was. There are other baths, as well, and they seem like a nice hang-out place for the local hip 80-year-olds. They all show up to watch each other play chess and swim laps, and it was a ton of fun swimming around with them. Budapest is an amazing vacation city. It is definitely my favorite European city, and I recommend heading to Hungary on your next vacation.

This is being cross-posted on my blog, Only Palaver.

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