Tuesday, January 19, 2010

City Snapshot: Budapest

Virtually five years ago, I visited the beautiful city of Budapest. This was before I started Penelope Red; and before I had been to Russia- so for me, Budapest was the most unique city from all the others I had been to thus far.

I can't remember the names of the sites, or facts about the city, but I do remember feeling lucky to have visited... especially since it was not overrun by foreigners like most other European cities. Budapest still had it's own unique flavour. Although the old Austria/Hungary ties are still there (you can really see it in the architecture on one side of the town especially), there is a definite Eastern feel that you don't get in any of the West European cities. It is really hard to describe- you really just have to be there.

The currency took a while to get used to... it was something like 200 HUF to 1 AUD.

The train ride there was interesting too... tour guides and others would board the train and try to sell to you what they have. We actually booked a tour on the train; we were a little sceptical at first, but when the tour operator didn't ask us for the money, and said that we would pay the tour guide in person, we thought he must be ok. The tour was actually excellent- a lady who spoke perfect English, who drove my friend and I around to all of the different sites and was very informative.

I spent quite a bit of time in the markets, and looking at embroidered table cloths etc. They were stunning! Such bright colours on a white background, all hand made. Besides fabric, it was probably the most expensive item I bought on the entire trip, but it was worth it. I have them on my dressing table now, and every time I look at them, I am reminded of my trip.

I would recommend Budapest to anyone who would like to visit a city in Europe that is very different from the rest, who doesn't necessarily want to loose the conveniences of the Western cities.

Most of the younger generation can speak English (and with the older generation you can kind of get away with using a few phrases of German.).

A great city to start your Eastern European experience from!

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