Budapest (revised)

To use a overused adjective (especially by me) Budapest is the most vibrant city I have ever visited. I don’t want to leave this place! I booked myself into my fourth hostel today because I keep putting it off. Incidentally, it is called the David Hasselhostel Party Hofftel. What a wonderful place.

I didn’t wrote much about Budapest because I have so much to say that it’s a bit of a daunting task. To get it out of the way, here are some of the historical sights with captions.

The “Paris of the East” is even more beautiful along the river by night.

Plenty else to catch the eye while walking the streets.

But it’s the café/bar/restaurant culture that really sets Budapest apart. Imagine the boutique bistros and coffeeshops of Covent Gardens crammed alongside the edgy bars and clubs of Hackney Wick’s reclaimed derelict industrial sights. Then remove the class-filtering unafordability of the former and the pretencious trendiness of the later and you have Budapest’s sixth and Seventh districts.

Most famous are the ruin bars. After the fall of the communist regime whole abandoned social realist housing blocks were taken over by wise younguns who converted them into the most bizarre sprawling bars you will see anywhere (correct me if anything elsewhere comes close). You might sit in a dusty Trabant laying in a shady corner of a courtyard, dance underneath a pig – shaped mirror ball overlooked by grotesque ‘enchanted forest’ creatures or drink in a tucked away room (probably a flat’s old kitchenette) plastered floor to ceiling with Mozart scores. Throughout, the lighting is akin to a Whirl-y-gig night’s. Words (and my scant photos) really do not do justice.

Finally, Budapest is famous for the copious hot springs that lie beneath the city and feed it’s many bathhouses and spas. The best of these I visited was the Kiraly baths. A 16th century Turkish baths built during their occupation, it has never been refurbished. Sunlight from the open holes in the domed roof lances through the steam as you descend into the dimly lit octagonal pool of sulphuric water. Atmospheric is an understatement. I did not flout the photography ban so please Google it – the Kiraly baths.