The Buda-best time in Hungary’s capital

I’m Camille, the French Editor and one of the proof-readers for the UoB Linguist Magazine. I am a third year Modern Languages student hoping to spend my year abroad in Strasbourg, France and Granada, Spain.

As a French and Spanish student, I have spent the majority of my trips abroad in France or Spain. However, last summer I decided I wanted to venture further into Europe, and after hearing practically everyone I know gush about Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, my friend and I decided to visit for 10 days and find out why everyone was so in love with the city. 

The trip didn’t get off to the greatest start: our flight was delayed by nearly 2 hours and upon arrival in Hungary, whilst waiting outside Budapest airport for a taxi, we were mercilessly bitten by gnats, specifically on the face. This resulted in me having a swollen red eye for the next four days, which garnered some concerned looks from Budapest locals, as admittedly it looked like I’d been punched in the face. 

Despite this irritating start, I cannot remember a single other negative experience from the trip. In fact, I now regard it as my favourite holiday to date.  I had initially been worried that we would run out of activities for 10 days in Budapest, but we easily could have stayed for two weeks- the city is overflowing with culture, sight-seeing opportunities and activities. During the day, we visited museums, galleries and historical monuments, some of my favourites being the Budapest Royal Palace and Margaret Island. This island is in the middle of the Danube river which runs through Budapest and is host to medieval ruins, parkland and beautiful cycling trails. 

We spent the evenings in cosy, locally owned restaurants or atmospheric ‘ruin’ bars.  The best way I can think to describe a ruin bar is as an indoor junkyard merged with a music festival: they are largely constructed from abandoned warehouses or historic buildings and are decorated with fairy lights, neon signs and vintage furniture. Each bar is slightly different and there’s a plethora of them around the city, all serving delicious, eclectic drinks (the cocktails are to die for). 

Although every place we visited was incredible, the one that I would compel everyone to visit is the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Budapest is renowned for its thermal baths, but the Széchenyi Baths are amongst the most popular attractions in Budapest- and rightly so. The Baths feature hot, spring-water pools- both indoor and outdoor- sauna cabins, ice baths and more. It was hands down the most relaxing experience of my life and I am eager to visit again. As a language enthusiast, I like to come back from another country having learnt some useful phrases in its language, but I’m afraid all I acquired from Hungarian was how to say thank you, which is köszönöm, pronounced ‘kew-sew-newm’. I’m doubtful that I pronounced it correctly, but it seemed to go a long way when speaking to Budapest’s locals, so I’d recommend learning a few simple phrases in Hungarian before visiting (as you should when travelling to any country!) Hopefully upon my next visit to Hungary I’ll pick up more than just one word of the language- and hopefully that visit will be soon!

Camille Stevenson

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