My experience in Hungary has been amazing. Magyar has certainly been my favorite European country and much of the reason why has been because of my Hungarian family. I have been treated like royalty since I’ve arrived. I flew from Paris to Budapest and spent the first couple nights at a hostel in downtown Pest. The owner of the hostel was very nice and gave me a few tips on what to see and so on. He didn’t have a bed for the second night I was there but offered the couch for a reduced rate which was very kind of him. I spent the first couple days just wandering around the streets and admiring the architecture (which I still enjoy doing and I’ve been here for 10 days already).
Then it was time to meet the family. Gabi, Bella, Lazi and Kamilla organized a little family reunion (I think thirteen of us in total) at their place in Buda and we met on a Saturday afternoon. We ate a very traditional Hungarian meal starting with “phenom” soup, then pancakes filled with pork and a couple other Hungarian dishes that are slipping my mind with dessert to finish. Oh…and of course all the beer and wine before, during and after the meal. Gabi and Lazi insisted that I stay with them as long as I’m in Hungary which was extremely nice of them. Nearly all of my travels, I have been sleeping in a small bed as part of the cheapest or next to cheapest hostels I’ve been able to find so when I was offered an entire flat to myself atop of house with a wonderful view of the city, you could imagine my excitement. On top of this, I can say a week later that they cook for me every night and even have breakfast ready for me when I wake up. They have not only welcomed me as family but treated me like royalty throughout my stay which has been amazing. I really hope they visit Canada someday so I can return the favour.
My first week in Budapest was spent doing much exploring. Some of the many things I did included doing the free walking tour, the free communist walking tour, the free Jewish ghetto tour, the national gallery, visiting many markets and souvenir shops, eating some culinary delights, relaxing in the Szechenyi thermal bath, attending a free Mozart concert in St. Matthias church, seeing the St. Stephen Basilica and Fisherman’s bastion. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple things but Budapest has been a lot of fun to explore with its long and rich history. The best view of the city was on Gellert Hill which is the highest point in Budapest and has a great view/angle of the parliament which is the third biggest in the world and is made of over 40 million blocks. Last but not least, I have to mention that I walked on Lendvay utca several times. No big deal but I drank a Dreher beer on Lendvay street and enjoyed a bean goulash on the street as well. The street is about six blocks long and leads up to a really nice spot in Heroes square with a big park behind the square. It also has the Szechenyi thermal bath which is arguably the nicest in Budapest. If you have a chance, take a look at pictures on the internet. You will be impressed. It is beautiful. I did not have my camera that day because I didn’t want to risk having it stolen while I was in the bath and my bag was in the dressing room.
Morika (most likely spelled incorrectly) also drove me to Szentendre and Visegrad. These are very popular tourist destinations close to Budapest. If you follow the Danube River north of the city, you will be in Szentendre. There are many little shops in this small town and it is very nice. I tried my first Langos here and it was delicious. Visegrad was not far from here and this was the house of the King for four dynasties. There is a castle located at the top of the hill and it is a cool castle with a great view. The castle then had a wall leading down the hill to the palace. This was all very nice and was nice to spend time getting to know Morika. She continued to say she couldn’t speak English but we had very little trouble communicating.