Europe | Hungary | Budapest – Its the little things
Allow me to conclude my Budapest diary with a few things I found interesting and others might find useful.
Budapest is relatively unexpensive. I got by very well on 7000 forints a day (c. 30 Euros) That got me a bed in the hostel, all the attractions you’ve read about, meals out and a few scoops each night.
The public transport system is excellent. Metros and trams and buses arrive often and get you everywhere quickly. Watch out, there’s plenty of inspectors around, especially on the metro, so it pays to buy a ticket. Getting forints is not a problem, all the bankomats I tried took my ATM card.
The food is ok. Beef Gulasc is the national dish. It’s a stew with potatos and flavoured with paprika that often comes in a tin dish with a ladle for about 800ft. The beer is so-so. I was told Hungarian wine was one of the finest in the world so I duly sampled some. It tasted alright. But I’m probably the wrong person to ask about wine. The Hungarians love their ice-cream (fagylalt). They should, it’s superb.
The weather was mixed. Some days were dull and overcast, other’s scorching hot. On Sunday, as I was leaving, there was a spectacular thunder and lightning storm.
Internet cafes are conveniently dotted all over the place. I went to Click on Jokai tér, near Oktogon. It cost 700ft an hour, which seemed excessive. Especially compared to the Westel shop on Vörösmarty tér, where you get 15 minutes for free.
Before I got to Budapest I’d heard a lot about the omnipresent Hungarian mafia. Maybe they’d heard about me as well, because I didn’t see much of them. I did notice plenty of homeless, most of them Roma. In Déli train station there was a man who looked like he was emerging from a hole in the ground, but he wasn’t. He had no legs and was somehow holding himself erect while begging. Not a pretty sight.
I was mildly bemused by the very public shows of affection by young Hungarians on every corner. They don’t seem to mind who is looking. I saw one especially lucky young man taking on two attractive girls simultaneously. There were lots of balding middle-aged Hungarian men with bad suits and gold watches running around with beautiful girls half their age. They should be careful.
On my last night in Budapest I hit the town with Orlagh and her friends. Istvan Kovacs, hero of Hungary, was defending his world featherweight belt in his home country. Koko was all over Budapest. Unfortunately he lost. The men in the pub weren’t happy. After, we went to two free, outdoor clubs near Rudás baths. Twas good craic.
I love the way you get a little glass of water with your coffee in Budapest. I love the way you can buy milk in a bag like frozen peas. I wasn’t so impressed with the incessant 80’s pop soundtrack. I’d thought I’d heard the last of Feargal Sharkey. I found the Hungarian language hard to pick up. Luckily all the locals I dealt with had decent English. I couldn’t help noticing the spectacularly short skirts. I’m not a big fan of Hungarian toilets. I was disappointed by the paucity of dodgy mullets. But I didn’t let that ruin my stay.
Bye bye Budapest, it’s been fun.
PS. My bag arrived at the hostel on Tuesday evening. Nearly everything was ok but they broke my new blue plastic cup. They haven’t heard the last of me…