Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The best of Budapest


Hey people! Guess what.. we're back! And after two weeks of sweltering heat, endless explorations and horribly dodgy food we're suprisingly happy to be back to our grey little island and cat family! We covered a HUGE amount of ground in such a short space of time, firstly, arriving in the middle of the night in Budapest. When we stepped off the plane the heat hit us like opening a hot oven and we knew we were in for a bit of climate shock but we were so completely unprepared for the 45 degree onslaught we were due to experience as we moved south! Irish people just aren't built for those sort of conditions, poor P. got got so bad a few times he started babbling and talking gibberish, seriosuly!
We only spent two days in Budapest in the end, despite my huge ambition to go there for years. In my head Budapest would be a fairytale city, full of stunning architecture, kooky little cafes, arty bookshops and bohemian types meandering about the place in amazing vintage outfits. We quickly realized however, that in August at least, the reality is a far less romantic place, with thousands of sweaty tourists swarming the streets being sold tacky crap and terrbile over-priced food. Despite the tacky b.s going on, I could see that it would be a wonderful place off season, so my new plan is to go back maybe in Autumn or Spring sometime and give it another chance, I think it deserves it.

The picture at the top is of the bridge over the Danube connecting the two sides of the city: 'Buda' and 'Pest'.

Most of the souveneirs on sale were cheerful 'traditional' folk art trinkets like Matryoshka dolls and tea-towels embroidered in fabulously bright colours. They are mostly made in China though.

We stumbled across a cool little street festival in the middle of the night at one of the main inner-city junctions where we got our metro in and out from the hostel. These guys were baking pizzas, pies and fresh bread and all around were little craft stalls and bands playing cheezy music. We were amazed at how there were no trouble makers at all even with everyone sitting around the streets drinking all night. That would never, ever work in Ireland!

 This is the ceiling of a little cafe in the heart of Pest, visitors leave a momento of their own when they visit and over the years these have almost engulfed it!

As beautiful as the centre of Budapest is, it doesn't take long walking in the other direction before you encounter the less charming realities of city life here. The glorious old town centre is surrounded with miles of these dismal communists tower blocks, where most of the locals live.

Here's us trying to be enthuisiastic about Hungarian food on our last night in Hungary, our naive attempt to find decent Hungarian food meant we wasted 24 euros and ended up desperately hunting out a nearby KFC we'd seen signs for earlier! They aren't big on writing descriptions on menus there, so I unwittingly ordered stuffed sour cabbage leaves (even more gross as it sounds in writing), polenta (a local type of flavourless mush) and some other meat like thing I couldn't really identify all covered in more white mush. Poor P. got a trout with teeth that smelt like dirty tea-towels.

On day two we hiked out to the city limits in search of the Ecseri Piac market, supposidly one of the biggest flea markets in Europe! We arrived on a quiet day (Saturday is said to be the best) so most of the stalls weren't open but we still had a brilliant day digging through mounds of vintage clothes and old soviet army paraphernalia. Arguably one of the very best days of my life so far, I found an incredible green silk velvet cocktail dress from the fifties, handsewn by a Parisian couturier. How romantic is that!? Sadly it is too small for me and I will be selling it at some point so stay tuned for details! I also got myself a beautiful fox fur capelet for... *gasp* twelve euros!! As well as a sparkly gold circle skirt and a very dapper maroon wool fedora.

Here I am digging around in one of the vintage caves at the market. Everything is just thrown into piles or impossibly tightly wedged onto over flowing rails, aided only by a rickety old step-ladder and an unenthusiastic shop-keeper who can't speak any English, it's pretty hard going stuff! The 35 degree heat and metre thick wall of polyester around me didn't help either, but I soldered on for a good hour in there! I like the way I look like some sort of vintage crazed vampire in the mirror :P

I found lots of beautiful old black and white photos with mysterious well dressed people in them. I think they are worthy of a blog post all of their own some time.

 P. using a gadget for looking looking at old photo negatives. The guy at this stall kept trying to sell him a self-sharpening razor, despite his big fluffy beard, much to the amusement of the other old guys manning the nearby stalls. The market was the first chance we had to really intereact with the locals and despite their having no English and us no Hungarian it was so much fun, especially with their trying to sell us everything we so much as glanced at!

Would you like some kitsch with your old coke bottles? yes please! So after our brilliant day plundering the market, our next port of call was the lovely little city of Novi Sad in Serbia, but more on that adventure next time.. Hope you guys are all good!



  1. I took the same trip as you last year - spent a few days in Budapest and then onto Novi Sad for Exit festival. Felt a bit meh about Budapest as well - just didn't really gel with the people or something but it is a beautiful city.

  2. We felt the same way, didn't squeeze any conversation out of anyone apart from at the flea market! Ooh how was Exit? I'm so tempted to go next year after falling in love with Novi Sad :)

  3. It was great but hard going as it really only got going at 1am until about 8in the morning so hard going especially if you continue on partying during the day.Also there was a big distance between stages so a big effort if you are tired.its great when the sun comes up at dawn and they have the best acts on!

  4. How did I miss this post?!
    Glad you're back...sorry it didn't live up to expectations :/
    it's so sad, that you can't even get authentic souvenirs anymore, when my oldest son was 5 he was reading the bottom of a toy and looked at me somewhat confused as he said "is everything in the world made in China?" :) my husband and I laughed so hard and replied "sadly most things are"

    1. Ha ha that's such a profound question for a five year old :D

  5. these pics are great although I'm sorry that budapest didn't quite live up to expectations. A friend of mine went (by train) to budapest in October last year - the weather was still nice and there weren't as many tourists, maybe an autumnal visit would be a good call! I just found your blog and I'm enjoying reading through your earlier posts.

    Annie x

  6. These pictures are so amazing! Gah I want to go there! I just found your blog and I love it! New Follower Here!