Author: Sarah Eaton
Date of Trip: February 2016
After a memorable meal at a local Italian restaurant (and yet more local red wine!) we were determined to experience a Ruin Bar we had heard about. Opting for one of the more well known bars we arrived at Szimpla Kert. As the name suggested, the bar was a rundown building filled with junk that turned a ruin into a bar. I was surprised with how big the bar was and enjoyed investigating all the different rooms and seeing tourists and locals alike enjoying a drink and music. Sitting on an old school bench with an old bath tub opposite us there was no shortage of interesting items adorning the walls and floors of the various rooms.
We couldn’t leave Budapest without visiting the thermal baths and after a busy previous day Sunday morning we booked into Széchenyi Thermal Baths. There were many baths to choose from but we chose one of the biggest that offered many outdoor and indoor options in case the weather didn’t hold out for us. Luckily, we arrived in bright sunshine and quickly immersed ourselves in the warm water. We should also mention that we chose this bath as we knew that some Baths did not allow males and females to bath together. Changing facilities were still strictly separated but both males and females could enjoy the vast array of baths together. We were visiting out of season but the Baths were busy and we recommend to book in advance and avoid the queues.
We spent a few hours in the baths, switching between the indoor and outdoor pools and taking advantage of the many saunas. We then left feeling relaxed and meandered towards Hero’s square.
Standing in the square, peering up at the horses in all their glory, there was something inspiring about it. We breathed in the history and continued on our way through City Park towards our next destination.
Kerepesi Cemetery. This was a destination I was not enthralled about visiting and was less than enthusiastic. I felt strange as a tourist visiting a cemetery but I can now appreciate why it was on so many “must-see” lists. Travelling about 2km from downtown we reached the Cemetery which was founded back in 1847. Many notable people have been buried here, from statesmen to actors and their interesting lives are reflected in the many extravagant memorials and tombs. The statues protecting the men and women buried here are fascinating and it is definitely worth a visit. Being a peaceful hub in the centre of the city gives it an eerie atmosphere and you could well imagine a horror film being made in its surroundings during the darker hours.
After this, with aching feet, we hopped on the metro back into the city centre. With rain now pouring down we were unwavering in our plan to visit the Pin Ball Museum. For just HUF 2500 you gain entry to 400 square meters of constant fun! With 130 machines all set to “free play” you can play to your hearts delight on everything from 19th century flipper machines to the latest state-of-the-art pinball tables.
Being our last night, we decided to see what the night life had to offer two young-ish travellers and we weren’t disappointed! With the plan to head back to the area of Szimpla Kert where we had seen many intriguing bars the previous night we headed in that direction. Or so we thought!
Instead we found ourselves on the mile-long Király Street. It’s was buzzing with activity and seemed to offer an array of bars and restaurants all under cover from the imminent downpour. Aside from an unfortunate time spent trapped in a toilet cubicle (don’t ask!), we had a brilliant time here. The bars were busy, with tourists from all over the world enjoying their evening and the staff were friendly. After a satisfying meal of Tapas (the chocolate-chilli rabbit was incredible) and many cocktails we stumbled home, admittedly, a little worse for wear!
On our final day and not wanting to miss out on the chance to squeeze some more into our trip we checked out and headed to the Great Market Hall. This is the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest and it was a treasure trove of food, gifts, trinkets and surprises. Spending our last few forint on a few gifts and sampling some rather tasty salamis, it was the end of our trip and time to head home.
Budapest offered all you could want from a city: culture; nightlife; and everything in between. We came away feeling content that we had seen and done so much in such a wonderful place but felt that we had only just scratched the surface of all it had to offer.
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