Lydia’s Journal #2

Last weekend, I took a trip to Budapest with several other exchange students. Budapest is the capital city of Hungary.When I left for Budapest, I did not know much about Hungary or its capital, but I quickly fell in love with it! There are too many great things to say about Budapest, so I will share some of the highlights with you. This is a little summary of what I saw!

Markets

One of the coolest things about Europe during this time are the Easter festivities, especially the Easter markets. Budapest had a very cute Easter market with food, drinks and handicrafts for sale. Despite the cold weather, I enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere and browsing all of the great stalls.

We also walked around in the indoor Central Market called Vásárcsarnok. This market had everything from butchers and vegetable sellers to cheap souvenirs. On the first floor were many Hungarian specialties such as goose liver and paprika.

Food

Hungarian food, or at least what I had the privilege of trying, is so delicious! Hungary is famous for their paprika, so you will find it everywhere and in everything. Paprika is a red spice that is used in many Hungarian dishes. I guess I never really had much paprika in my life, but after this trip it is one of my new favorite spices! Have you ever tasted Paprika? I tried Hungarian goulash, which is a delicious soup made of beef, potatoes, vegetables and, of course, paprika. I am pretty sure this was the best soup I have ever had! Another specialty of Hungary is lángos. Lángos is a deep fried fluffy piece of dough topped with sour cream, cheese, and various meats and vegetables. You can create your lángos with whatever type of topping or stuffing you prefer!. I liked the lángos, but it was very heavy and filling.

Architecture

Budapest has gorgeous and eclectic, or diverse, architecture. When walking through town, one moment, you may find yourself in the modern city center. The next you know, you may be walking down a quaint street with a village feel! Also, everywhere you turn in Budapest, you are bound  to come across a statue. I have never seen a place with so many statues in my life!

The Danube River

The Danube river separates Budapest into two parts of the city, Buda and Pest. These cities were independent until they united in 1873. There are eight famous bridges in Budapest which cross the Danube. One of the most well-known and oldest bridge is the oldest Chain Bridge. The Chain Bridge is decorated with lion statues and has an interesting folkloric history. Legend says that the lion statues at the base of the bridge have no tongues, and the sculptor drowned himself in the river out of shame.

The Castle District

Two of the main attractions in the Castle District are the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. The Fisherman’s Bastion is a look-out terrace with seven towers and amazing views of Budapest. For some reason, I was really in awe of Matthias Church. I think it was because it is one of the few churches I have seen that include beautiful colors on the outside. Unfortunately, we did not go inside.

Parliament Building

Hungary’s Parliament building is the third largest in the world. It is definitely the most phenomenal government building I have ever seen! Our group took a guided tour of the building, and the inside is just as ornate as the outside.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Budapest and is dedicated to the first king of Hungary. It is the same height as the Parliament Building, 96 meters tall, and therefore tied as the tallest building in Budapest. The building was very damaged during World War II, and reconstruction to repair it has recently finished. We climbed to the top of the tower and saw spectacular views of the city at sunset. By climbed, I mean took the elevator! This was a much easier way to get to the top!

Széchenyi Thermal Baths

I also had the opportunity to visit the largest medicinal bath in Europe. The Széchenyi baths are a complex of indoor and outdoor pools situated on two hot springs. These pools can reach temperatures of over 160 degrees Fahrenheit! These healing waters are said to help with joint problems and several other illnesses. Hungary has many thermal baths throughout the country, and visiting these baths is a normal part of Hungarian culture. I can see why! I was getting over a cold when we left for Budapest, but after a day at the thermal baths I felt amazing! Since Hungary is not far from the Czech Republic, I would like to see if I can find another thermal bath close to Brno.
As you can see, there is so much to do and see in Budapest! There is so much history and beauty crammed into this hidden gem of a city of less than two millioninhabitants. I hope I have the opportunity to return to Budapest one day and enjoy some more goulash, city exploration and thermal bath time. Hopefully one day, you can visit Budapest, too!

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