Kiri and


Budapest BOGOF

June 18th, 2014 (by Steve)

I’ve always been a fan of “buy one get one free” offers and maybe this is why Budapest is so appealing; you get two cities for the price of one (Buda and Pest united in 1873… somehow I can’t see this happening with Liverpool and Manchester!). Add to the fact that our campsite had an offer of four nights for the price of three and you’ve got a good deal on your hands (eight for three?). Anyway, we decided to check out Pest first.

I’ve been to Budapest once before; back in 2009 and it’s interesting to see how much it’s changed in just 5 years. Whilst managing to retain a good clout of its character it appears to now be slightly more westernised than it used to be and one of the saddest victims (in my view) is that the Paprika museum is now a hairdressing salon. On my last visit, this little room-sized museum held someone’s lifetime’s dedication to the national spice of Hungary; pictures of paprika, memorabilia in the shape of paprika, paprika recipes and the history of paprika, plus a free shot of paprika vodka. Just as you thought you could take no more paprika, as you left, there was a little shop selling… umm… paprika. Alas, no more.

Anyway, paprika aside, we spent a sunny morning wandering around the streets of Pest, taking in the atmosphere before buying a hat for Kiri and settling down to eat our packed lunch by the chain bridge across to Buda. The afternoon was to take a slightly more sombre note as we visited the “House of Terror”; a building occupied firstly by the Fascist Arrow Cross Party, then the Communist Hungarian secret police and now housing a museum dedicated to the memory of those people tortured and murdered there. The things that struck me the most were the parallels between the Soviet and Nazi missions. Both had a vision of a utopia that they tried to bring into being, but both disregarded human life in their quest for fulfilling the “bigger picture”. They aimed to get rid of those who didn’t fit their mould; destroying diversity. Surely there must be other ways of achieving a utopia? Maybe Jesus and the Beatles were onto something when they said “all you need is love”? I’d like to think so…


On our return to the campsite, Bertha had a neighbour; a motorbike with a British numberplate and a tent. The owner of them was a great guy called Matthew, who (with his friend, Steve) were touring Europe at a much faster pace than us on their bikes, whilst raising money for Alzheimer’s disease. After munching on a barbecue (our second within three days!) we were joined by Matthew + Steve for the rest of the evening, who obviously weren’t put off by us pulling fish bones out of our teeth! We exchanged stories of the road until way past our bedtimes, fascinated by the challenges they face on bikes and their experiences of countries that we’d been to (as well as those that we had to miss out; especially the Balkans coastline). Just hearing about the sheer pace of their travels (16 countries in 16 days) left us feeling a little exhausted and they expressed that they were a little tired too as they decided to stay a second night at the campsite.


The following morning it was the turn of Buda, so we crossed the Chain Bridge and walked up the hill just in time to see the changing of the guard. Unlike the British Bearskins, these guys get to wear sunglasses on duty, but they’re still incredibly good at keeping their cool when tourists want to pose with them! After a short wander around the castle area, we headed down the hill, then up another one; this time the citadel, which gave cracking views of how flat Pest is. As we returned to the flat lands in search of icecream (I ended up with a scoop of camembert and a scoop of dark chocolate and chilli), we saw a lot of English football “lads”… from their singing and merriness it remained questionable whether they’d last until the England match at midnight. We certainly didn’t… after another great evening hanging out with Matthew + Steve, we crashed into bed just before midnight.


Our final day in the city happened to be Sunday, so we ventured to the International Church of Budapest. We’d been attracted by a line on their website saying that they welcome all, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. There we met people from different countries and backgrounds, but they were united in their welcome and love for Jesus and each other. We appreciated visiting such a real, sincere and unassuming church and we also appreciated being taken out for a Chinese lunch by Daniel (one of the leaders) after the service. We were both really encouraged by the conversations we had over the meal.

Our plan was to go to the Szechenyi Baths in the afternoon – you can’t go to Hungary without visiting a spa – it’s a bit like going to Spain and not having tapas. Oh, wait, we didn’t have any tapas when we were in Spain… bad analogy! Anyway, we weren’t really feeling it, so instead we just enjoyed the afternoon sunshine in a park. The journey back to the campsite was our last one on the metro and I was excited to read that when on the metro you are permitted to carry (amongst other things):

“one bundle of wrapped tree saplings”

No prizes for guessing what I intend to do next time I come to Budapest!


Our last evening on the campsite was accompanied by a concert next door with all of the favourites from the musicals… in Hungarian. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard We go together totally in Hungarian, whilst watching some random other campers waving lightsabers around!

Monday morning came and with it, our cue to leave Budapest. At a speed that Matthew + Steve would have been embarrassed by, we left Budapest to wend our merry way towards Lake Balaton. Maybe we’ll find a spa there?

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2 Responses

Enjoy Balaton – a lovely part of the World that not many Brits know about! Keszthely in the north west of the lake is a lovely town, and from there it’s not far ‘inland’ to the spa at Heviz, which has to be seen to be believed.

Thanks Brian; it is indeed a beautiful place and the lake is so warm to swim in. Having looked up the spa at Heviz, it certainly looks incredible and quite tempting…

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