January 19, 3013
by Sarah Bookner
Budapest from Fisherman’s Bastion
Being here in Budapest has been a wild experience, different than that of being in Vienna. Budapest feels much more real and down to earth versus the relatively remote but magical feeling of Vienna. Our first full day here has been jam packed from the moment we stepped out of our hotel. We began with a tour of the city and were shown breathtaking views from the top of Castle Hill where we could see all of the city, including Parliament and much more. I also got the chance to get some fun photos with some locals and their golden eagle (boy was that bird big, I could barely hold it on my arm it was so heavy!). We were assisted in our tour by a friend of Dr. Barkhymer who works in the economic branch of the Parliament.
Basilica of St. Stephen
We also saw the beautiful St. Stephen’s Basilica and St. Matthias’ Church, along with crossing the Danube River by walking the famous Chain Bridge.
We made our way to the Central Market for some lunch and fun shopping. They don’t use euros in Hungary, they use forint, of which 5000 forints equals around $20. We felt rich carrying around thousands of “dollars”. Or ” doubloons” as Preston calls them.
Shopping and eating was rather difficult. Hungarian is unlike any language I’ve ever heard, so we would have to point and smile to what we wanted and hoped was good to eat. Luckily, most of the people we came across were so incredibly nice and patient and spoke English, or at least tried to understand us.
After our day of running around all over the city, we had the glorious opportunity to spend the evening in an outdoor and indoor hot springs, soaking in natural hot water and lounging in saunas. There were a wide range of people there, from all over the world. I could definitely have that experience again!
We had dinner at a restaurant near our hotel and listened to a traditional gypsy band. Our food was delicious though it took us a minute to guess what it was (pork), and our dessert was amazing! I learned quite a bit about the gypsy population here in Budapest, and about the issue of their integration into Hungarian society. There is such a variation in opinions of the locals, it was really interesting to hear them all. Turns out we aren’t the only country with social problems and strong opinions.
Finally the scheduled part of the day came to a close, and while some decided to stay in for the night, two other girls and I met up with a former Otterbein exchange student named Greg and hit up some downtown bars popular with both tourists and the locals. Again my opinion that Hungarians are friendly and hospitable was only reinforced as the night went on. Greg was a great host, and showed us some spots that really helped make the experience unique and even more fun.
Well off to bed I go. We really got a lot in on one day, but if it were up to me, we would stay even longer to see even more of the city. I definitely will come back here again!
Until next time,