These are the images that stick out from our 4-day trip to Budapest. And I have photos to prove it. Well, some of it, at least. I took 110 photos, and Lewis took 160. Instead of posting them all here, I'm giving Flickr a try. You can see my Hungarian sampler here.
Just when we were starting to feel that all-too-frequent twinge of homesickness, Lewis said, "It's Monday morning, and we're sitting in a square in Budapest." Yeah, it kind of put things in perspective...
We really loved Budapest. The food was probably the biggest surprise. I had an incredible dish of Chicken Paprika, amazing mushroom soup, yummy apple strudel... every meal was great, and it was really cheap. We ordered everything we wanted each time, and our biggest bill was like $30. We rented an apartment from www.roomsinbudapest.com for 45 euros (less than $60) a night. It was a small studio downtown. Our only complaint is that the apartment was inside a "courtyard," so it had no window to the street. But the price was right, and the people at rooms in budapest were very nice and helpful. BUT, if you do go to Budapest, we recommend the Buda side. It's quieter and really beautiful. It's the hilly side of Budapest, where the castle and old city are.
I was hoping that Budapest would be more Eastern than Western, but at some moments it felt like we were in Paris or some other European city. We kicked off our "Off the Beaten Path" tour with a destination that turned out not to be so off the beaten path. Hurry and go... word is definitely getting out about the beauty of Budapest.
Our favorite parts of the trip were walking around Buda, taking a boat ride up the Danube to a town called Szentendre and visiting a local market in Pest. Curiosity also brought us to the Parliament building to witness the largest protests in Hungary since the fall of Communism in 1989. I think what struck me most was how much pride people had in their country. Almost everyone had a Hungarian flag in the crowd. I don't even own an American flag.
After seeing the country for myself, I am really proud to be 1/4 Hungarian. My grandfather was 100% Hungarian, and my great-grandparents came to Ellis Island in 1904 and 1907. I kept looking around at everyone and wondering if I was like them. And when we went to the Hungarian National Museum, I just felt lucky to be alive... that my great-grandparents and everyone before them survived the wars and hard times.
What's next on our "Off the Beaten Path" tour? Well, next week we're in Holland (completely ON the path) but we're thinking someplace like Croatia or Montenegro will be next, and definitely Iceland next summer. I'm going to start planning now... and you should be planning your visit out here to see us! :)