The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Travel

The Hidden Treasure Chest that is Budapest

Cheap food, great statues and baths for days

The end of term is drawing nearer, deadlines are getting worryingly closer but the peak of summer has just risen over the horizon. Crack out the sunglasses, the shorts and a cold beer – it’s almost holiday season.

The place to visit this year is none other than Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Home to some of the best bars, baths and booze in Central Europe.

“Budapest’s most significant highlights is its Hungarian Baths”

Flights to Hungary are as cheap as chips, but why travel with a small hand luggage bag and
cramped seats and not even a free bag of nuts when it is possible to travel in style instead? Take
the train! It may seem like a long way – which it is – but the comfort and adventure along the speeding tracks on the Eurostar from London to Paris is worth it every time.Time it right and you can get the next train soon after. It is a long one, but with leg room even Peter Crouch would be thankful for, a few episodes downloaded on Netflix and a good book (something not on the reading list), the five hour train journey to Munich will fly by. Experience some of Europe’s most beautiful countryside as you zoom past luscious fields and quaint towns which can’t always be enjoyed from the air.This is where it gets interesting – take an overnight sleeper train from Munich straight to the
heart of Budapest. Think less Hogwarts Express and more sleepover style where there is a choice of either two, four or six couchettes – bunk bed style. Yes, the cabin can feel cramped, but with
the motion of the train lulling everybody to the land of nod, it won’t even be noticeable until morning
when an attendant brings you breakfast.
Like most major cities, Budapest is not short of hostels. Many are within walking distance of
the main city centre. Stroll down the long roads, and take a moment to stop and admire the architecture. Look up. Lots of the shop fronts along the roads look modern and fairly average, but it is surprising to see more classic gothic architecture the higher the building rises. It is the perfect collaboration between old and new – much like the rest of Hungary.Budapest’s most significant highlights is its Hungarian Baths. For ultimate relaxation – look no
further. Step away from the most touristy of the many baths in Budapest, and visit the
gorgeous Gellért Baths. With 4 different hot pools at temperatures as hot as 40°C, your mind and body will relax as all the stress of university melts away.There are also two steam rooms and two saunas. Some may find this too hot, so instead why not take a dunk in the 2°C ice plunge pool which is certain to revive you.If Budapest’s baths are the highlight of the trip, take a visit the Rudas Baths for a night time swim as they are open from 10pm to 4am. Again, multiple hot pools, saunas and steam rooms to choose from – including more ice buckets.

The highlight is without a doubt, the rooftop pool. Warmed to the perfect temperature, forget all your worries as you look over the river which is adorned with a thousand gleaming lights on the bridges and enjoy the best view in Budapest.

“Pest is the most popular side of the city for bar-hoppers and feel good vibes, and Buda, with the castle and art gallery is more the culture vultures territory.”

A visit to Budapest’s Ruin Bar is almost a must. After the uprising, many buildings throughout the city, especially the Jewish Quarter, were left derelict. The first of the ruin bars is Szimpla Kert, famous for its eclectic and bizarre interior. Mingle with the locals and boogie with the tourists whilst taking in the surroundings. Like a strange museum, the design is a collection of random items all put together to create an almost wonderland and labyrinthian layout, which I’m sure won’t help when drinking the cheap beer the bars have to offer.

The city is split into two main parts – Buda and Pest. Pest is the most popular side of the city for bar-hoppers and feel good vibes, and Buda, with the castle and art gallery is more the culture vultures territory. That is not to say Buda is not worth the visit. Take the funicular up Buda Hill to the castle and spend a morning visiting the gallery. Well explained and captivating, if it’s not the art, it is definitely the views you’ll be looking at. Wander 10 minutes to the Fisherman’s Bastion for hot chocolate and a view.

On the other side of the river, it is imperative to see the Hungarian Parliament Building.
Known for being one of the most beautiful government buildings in Europe, it’s breath-taking
Gothic Revival-style edifice is astounding with its amount of detail.

A little way on from the Parliament building is one of the most moving memorials: shoes on the Danube Bank. Conceived by Can Togay, the shoes are to honour those killed by the Arrow Cross, a fascist movement in World War Two. The Jewish people were ordered to take off their shoes
before being shot and falling into the river, leaving their shoes behind them on the bank.
Many people, tourists and locals alike visit the memorial to pay their respects, lighting
candles and placing them inside the shoes. As the sun sets over the river, the candles glow
in the dusk.

Budapest offers more than just history and culture – it offers the hospitality of its people, architecture which will blow even Barcelona out of the water and views of the city which no Instagram post could ever capture.

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