I just love that Andrassy is called an "utca" - utca simply means "street". It says something about a city when one of its UNESCO listed sites has such a common appellation as simple as a "street".
And a street it is, it's the street that connects the utilitarian transport intersection of Deak Ferenc ter, where the three Metros meet, to the equally egalitarian City Park, where locals congregate at the first hint of good weather. It's a pretty magnificent street (and magnificently pretty) as it sets off from the city bordered by some of the most exclusive shops before heading onwards towards the culture offered by the State Opera House and a couple of surrounding Szinhaz's.
Having caught its bit of "high culture" it then arrives at the Oktogon, surrounded on all eight sides by bars, restaurants, little shops and even fast-food takeaways. But then one has to bear in mind that "high culture" in Budapest is in fact literal - with opera tickets starting from 500 Forints the culture is "high" without being exclusive.
After Oktogon the street widens and becomes an almost exclusive enclave of the wealthy with its garden-fronted mansions and elegant townhouses but it is still not exclusive-exclusive. By now you have tree-lined promenades not only on both sides of the road but also right down the middle with the Metro following your footsteps a few metres under them.
Andrassy was built as a functional radial route in and out of the city. Construction commenced in 1872 and its inauguration was in 1876, timed to coincide with the 20th August national holiday. The rich and famous of the time bought and built on both sides of this simple street and commissioned some of the best examples of Budapest's rich architectural heritage. Maybe this was a crafty plan on behalf of the city planners as soon afterwards they got the funding to build the first Continental European Metro under the street so as to reduce the traffic noise.
Fondest memory: Anywhere else in Europe this would have been called a "Boulevard" and maybe even a "Grande" one at that but not so here in Budapest. That's something that endears me to this city - as if it was socialist long before Socialism was spelled with a capital "S" and despite the post-war Communist idea of what Socialism should be as soon as Communism was kicked out socialism was regained - "Paprika Socialism" - rich and smooth and always affordable provided you don't buy the stuff in the fancy packets.
This is something you don't have to worry about as the Danube has been flooding in the area since time immemorial. During Budapest's 19th century development the city's planners had the foresight to ensure that its flood defences were more than adequate and able to cope with water levels rising by up to 10 metres. The highest recorded river rise was 8.6 metres in 2006 and so there was still plenty of leeway.
There are a couple of roadways which have been constructed along the river which are below the flood defence level but that simply creates an inconvenience for motorists and the public transport system is barely affected.
In its entirety Budapest stretches for about 28 km along the banks of the Danube but most of the places of tourist interest are centrally-located and easily accessed on foot or by short journeys using the excellent public transport system.
Within the city centre there's plenty of signposts giving directions to nearby places of interest and most of the Metro stations, railway stations and other strategic points have useful city maps. These maps are also available from the various "Tourinform" offices.
The streets themselves are well-signed and usually the streetsign also includes the district, the building numbers, and the direction thereof.
If you do get temporarily lost you'll find the locals particularly helpful with directions, and especially if you pop into a bar and buy a drink before asking for assistance ;)
Whilst Budapest has some grandly-ornate buildings it's also worth keeping an eye on what's at your feet. Around the city centre you'll notice these decorative manhole covers which I think are those of the local electricity company.
For a few more examples visit this page: Manhole Miscellany
The currency of Hungary is the Forint. As a rough guide, there are 280 Forints to the Euro, 210 Forints to the US Dollar, and 325 Forints to the pound. The forint has been very unstable, however, since the financial crisis, falling from 250 to the euro, down to 330, before bouncing back to the 270-290 region. So don't trust my numbers!
Hungary is a relatively cheap place to visit, especially outside of Budapest. There have been some huge bargains on the hotel front since the economic collapse of 2008. Food and transport is particularly cheap, except the metro system in the capital, which charges Western European rates for a substandard service with only one ride per ticket. A main dish at a reasonable restaurant generally costing less than 10 euros.
The low prices of everything means that big notes can be difficult to dispose of, and the ATMs, which are all over the city, tend to give out the biggest notes possible. I had real problems getting anyone to accept the 10000 Forint note, worth about 40 euros, and I couldn't even spend a 5000 Forint note (about 20 euros) in a place as big and international as Burger King, so good luck spending the bigger notes in the small family run restaurants.
Favorite thing: On the southern end of District V you'll find the up and coming Kalvin square. Once the renovations have been completed, the square will be one of the best in Budapest. Right now it should be on your radar for a number of great bars and restaurants, as well as being the starting point for the famous Raday Utca, a pleasant pedestrianised street filled with bars, restaurants and boutique shops. You've also got the National History museum right next door.
Even though it's north of the centre, Nyugati Ter means "West Square". The confusion lies in the naming of the train stations which the square serves. Like most of Budapest's squares, there's little walking space available, but it does have an enormous underground square. It's like nothing else in Budapest: it has shops, restaurants, and lots of small market stalls. But it's also grim, littered with drunks and prostitutes, and best avoided late at night.
What you will find here is the fantastic looking Nyugati station, designed by Eiffel himself. It's useful mostly for destinations inside Hungary. There's also the excellent West End shopping centre. There's nothing much touristic beyond Nyugati, so if you've come this far, jump on the metro and head back into the city.
The name looks difficult, but the pronunciation is somewhat like "new-gatti".
Vajdahunyad Castle is located behind Hosok Ter. in the City Park. It was built between 1896 and 1908 and is a replica of a castle in Transylvania, Romania. It borrows from different architectural styles such as Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. You will find the Agricultural Museum inside.
Right across from the castle is the Church of the 12 Disciples. Statues of the 12 disciples form an arch around the facade of the church with Christ at the top.
There is also the giant Statue of Anonymus in the courtyard. He was a 12th century chronicler. He wrote the first history books on the ancient Hungarians which were mostly based on legends. It was said that by touching his pen you will receive good luck.
If you visit Budapest and really want to know what is currently happening that might interest you, or close to the dates you will be arriving; here is a link to a very helpful site:
Put in the city (Budapest) for example, and pick what event you are interested in:concerts,festivals,performing arts etc.
or put in Hungary and select this week, this month or pick a date.
Excellent site for planning your entertainement whilst in Hungary
Favorite thing: Most places like Macdonalds and most cafes offer their customers free wireless internet. I had problems, probably because I was using an old computer with a poor outdated wireless receiver. Otherwise, you can find free internet services in the youth hostels like the Kollegium on the river-side of Raday utca.
This is a great way to start your tour of Budapest. You get to see the great city with stunning vistas from the top of Gellert Hill before traversing the city in a sight-laden journey, finishing in the iconic Heroes Square. Barely a few hundred meters will pass without seeing something of interest.
1. Take tram #49 to the Gellert Ter stop. Here you will see the grand Gellert Hotel and it's famous hot spring baths.
2. Walk up Gellert Hill dropping into the Cave Church on the way up.
3. Enjoy the breath-taking views from the Citadella at the top of the hill.
4. Return down the hill to Gellert Ter, and then walk across the green Liberty Bridge to Pest.
5. After the bridge you will see, on your right, the Great Market Hall with its impressive Zsolnay tiling.
6. Avoiding Vaci Utca, keep walking straight on. You'll pass through Kalvin Ter, and then past the grand old National Museum.
7. Onwards past Astoria, and a tiny detour down Dohany Utca will see you standing in front of the biggest Synagogue in Europe: The Great Synagogue
8. Return to Karoly Krt., and continue up through Deak Ter. Take a right up the glamourous Andrassy Ut. You could easily sidetrack here to the Basilica, but that's best left to another walk and another approach.
9. On your left as you walk up Andrassy Ut is the National Opera House, then shortly after is the popular and distinctive House of Terror Museum
10. You might want to take a break in one of the excellent cafes on Jokai ter, or take a quick trip up Andrassy Ut on the antique M1 Metro line, the oldest line in continental Europe. Jump on at Oktagon but get off at Bajza Utca for three tree lined boulevard where most of Hungary's embassies lie.
11. At the end of Andrassy Ut you will find yourself in Heroes Square.
After this long journey you can now relax in the City Park, or soak up the culture in the two excellent art museums, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art.
That's almost 5km of street walking crammed with sights. And if the walking gets too much, rest your feet on the 49 tram (until Deak Ter) and the M1 metro (all along Andrassy Ut).
Gispy, Hungarian, Romanian music.
with old-fashioned and modern instruments mixing it all up to a real nice music and dance party...
Fondest memory: http://www.nadara.org/
At the end of World War II, the Soviets controlled Hungary, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. These vassal states became part of an empire known as the Warsaw Pact.
But in 1956, the Hungarian people rose up against their Communist overlords. The Soviet army put down the revolt with great brutality. Imre Nagy, the leader of the revolt, paid for it with his life. Today, he is venerated as a great national hero. His statue stands at the Martyrs' Square in Pest.
The Hungarians are hospitable people, always ready to offer quest delicious food and excellent wines. Traditional Hungarian foods at special days or at special events
Hungarian people eat special food on these days.
On January 1. : Hungarians are careful what they eat on January 1st.
One should not eat any fish - or chicken, for fish will swim away with your luck,
but chicken scratches it back. If you want to be rich, wealthy, and lucky during
the coming year, you must eat some form of lentils (like in soup or salad) on
New Year's Day - along with some form of pork. If you can manage to get the tail
for your portion of pork, this means you will have a great deal of personal luck!
But, before you start to eat your New Year's Day meal, you must place the green wheat
sown before Christmas, a prayer book, and also your purse on the table,
so that your new year will be blessed by God!
At "Farsang" : Hungarian people at this time usually eat a special cookie that are called: Festival doughnuts.
At Easter: Smoked and cooked ham with boiled, dyed eggs.
At pig slaughter: "Orja" Soup (this is a meat soup which is made from pork ridge) and stuffed cabbage.(I never try this one, they said this is very good to who eat pig.
At Christmas: Fisherman's soup or stuffed cabbage. Hungarian people eat a special cookie on these days that are called "bejgli". This is similar to a scone, but it stuffed with poppy seed or walnut. (I try this one )
On December 31.: The traditional dinner is baked whole pork with potato puree and jugged cabbage.
Fondest memory: The langos chef shapes and fries the dough at Lehel Market in Budapest, Hungary. Langos does not rank high on the health-o-meter, but it's pretty tasty.
The description of fried flat potato bread doesn't do it a bit of justice. Instead imagine a warm chewy dough. Smothered in cheese.
Fény utca market
Budapest's best lángosok are sold here. There are two lángos stands at the market, one on the first floor and one up top in the far corner (pictured). The former sells fried fish, as well as 15 varieties of lángos charging Ft 180 - a little above the average - for the plain pie, with a sajtos-tejfölös priced at Ft 320 ( this one better )
Locals say the tzatziki lángos, not a tradition Hungarian "flavor" is the one to go for at Garay market, which is temporarily located at Rottenbiller street 56-58-60.
Despite offering the widest selection, a gut-busting 30 varieties, Budapest's most famous and touristy market hall scored worst in the test. Not only are these the most uninspiring lángos, they are also almost certainly the country's most expensive - a sajtos-tejfölös costs Ft 400 and a "magyaros" - topped with "Hungarian" sauce and slices of wiener (virsli) and tomato - costs a whopping Ft 500!!
The bridge is very impressive with its architecture, size and views. It is situated between Buda and Pest-the Eastern and Western parts of the city. It was opened in 1849. There are decorations made of cast iron.
Fondest memory: I remember the weather was very bad when we were walking, but definitely this bridge is my best memory:)
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