Having quite a few friends from Hungary I always heard how beautiful, great, warm and modern this country is. My friends praised the parliament building in Budapest, holistic spas of country’s southern territory, summer resorts of Balaton lake and so on.
It made my mind wonder and often times I’d let my thoughts travel as they were telling yet other story of their home country.
One summer I decided to make my own story about Hungary and together with my Hungarian friend Marian and my Swedish friend Nina I have finally booked my holiday. We agreed that we will visit Marian’s parents in Hajdúszoboszló (pronounced ˈhɒjduːsoboslo) and its spas, Balatonfured – a summer resort on Balaton lake and last but not least Budapest – the capital.
We dedicated approx. 3 days to each destination, arranged tickets, booked Airbnb in Budapest and a hotel in Balaton and off we went.
(Note that you can click on a single image for higher resolution options 😉 )
Arriving in Hajdúszoboszló
Getting to Hajdúszoboszló isn’t all that quick, but we were lucky. We arrived in Budapest around midnight and instead of getting a bus or getting a train we got into Marian father’s car who was very kind to meet her daughter and her “entourage” at the airport and drive all the way to our destination No 1. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to get to Hajdúszoboszló by car, approximately 2h 20 mins to get there by train and approximately 2 days if you want to take a loooong walk.
Now I need to say that Hungarians know something about hospitality. Marian and her parents treated us like royal guests. In the morning we were served traditional Hungarian breakfast, consisting of fresh bread, butter, turkey salami, soft cheese, plain cheese, white peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and my personal favourite – tururudi, a traditional cheese-cake like sweet covered in chocolate. All this accompanied with variations of teas and/or coffee.
They also had a beautiful garden with fruits trees, something I really miss. So with the childlike excitement we spent there quite a lot of time stuffing our faces with apples, cherries, berries and other nature’s goods –
Hajdúszoboszló is a very very small town, yet it is famous for its Spa with thermal waters – https://www.hungarospa.hu/en/
People come here to relax and recharge and possibly get away from everyday stress. Water has always been known for its healing properties and Hungarians definitely use this knowledge for a greater good of their country. The place attracts thousands of visitors every year from all over Europe. The SPA has a lot of different pools both indoors and outdoors, a pool where they do waves (what I loved the most), sunbathing areas, massage therapists, small eateries along the way, smoothie bars and so on.
We were only staying in Hajdúszoboszló for 2 days so we dedicated one to visit the famous Spa and the second one to causal relaxing and family time for Marian.
For our next stop we have chosen Balatonfured – one of the biggest cities located on the lake Balaton. (It is still quite small though ;))
We stayed in Bed and Breakfast 15 minutes away from the lake, which was very handy. After our arrival, we took some time to look around. When we got to the lake we saw a marvellous view – blue water, little boats down the pier and tanned tourists or locals cooling down in the water. Everything smelled like proper summer.
Every day we would come here and just relax under the sun. I need to remind you dear readers that we came from Ireland so laying under the sun is a big deal and a big pleasure as we aren’t spoiled by a lot of sunlight
Not everyone knows that almost at the border of the city there is a special place called the Sun City. It used to be called a Greek Village and not without a reason, it does look and feel like you are in a different place. A place everyone decided to abandon. Absence of people actually makes it even more special and just a little bit haunting. It is like you have the whole place for yourself, hidden from the eyes of others. I highly suggest visiting it at the sunset, like we did, to see how the Sun gives houses the touch of gold. It looks enchanting. Check for yourself –
After visiting Budapest, it became and remained one of my favourite European cities. There is something about it, the atmosphere, the ambience that stays with you even after you leave.
Budapest probably combines all of the architectural styles, from Renaissance to Gothic, from Neo-Baroque to Art Nouveau. It is breath taking to be walking down the streets of Budapest and discovering its history.
We got very lucky and rented a very cool flat right in city centre, 10 minutes’ walk from the very famous Parliament building. The location made it perfect to go anywhere we wanted without having to take a bus or any public transport. We were dedicated to explore the city by foot. Of course after a long day of walking we were exhausted but happy at the same time. Also it was a perfect way to stay fit while being able to try different Hungarian meals, from Langos – deep fried dough pasty served with cheese and sour cream to Guljash – thick tomato-pepperish soup with beef and vegetables. Both are delicious.
Budapest lives a very vibrant life and has a lot to offer. No matter what are you interested in you can be sure you will find it here.
There are a lot of museums, art galleries, exhibitions, free guided tours, parks, palaces, squares and so many cool and quirky places to eat, drink, hang out with friends, read a book and enjoy life.
We decided to start our Budapest tour by visiting an Exhibition called “Invisible”. The “Invisible” exhibition is a permanent exhibition dedicated to blindness and the struggles of blind people. The idea of it is that you walk for an hour in total darkness. You cannot see anything, like anything at all, only hear the voice of a tour guide, who is by the way blind. It is a very strong and for the first 10-15 minutes’ freaky experience, as you understand how much you rely on your vision. It makes you appreciate your eyes and the ability to simply “see” on a different level. It also teaches you to respect blind people with a higher awareness.
Another place that stands out in my memory is a place called Szimpla Kert (http://szimpla.hu). A friend of mine recommended us to go there, saying that it is a must see venue in Budapest. Szimpla is a so called ruin-pub, meaning that the place used to be an old factory or an old house and transformed into a venue. The décor is what makes Szimpla unique – at a fist glance it looks like you’ve entered into a warehouse storing old, damaged furniture, broken toys and electrical appliances. No kidding. You will not find a brand new IKEA table in here. No, no. What you will find is a table all covered in stickers and knife scratches, you know the one your parents threw away. And yet there is something magical about this place when you stand there surrounded by ruins. It’s like a reminder that everything can be fixed and be given a new life.
Budapest by night = Wow!
If you are going to visit Budapest, I insist you go for a walk through the city by night. I think that some places in the city were meant to be looked at after the dawn . For example
Parliament Building –
It looks much more grandiose and stunning in the darkness.
Margaret’s square (a place we found by accident) –
A big park in the centre of the city located on the river, on the left from Margaret’s bridge. At the very end you will find a big beautiful fountain, that plays music and “dances” to it accordingly. Awesome!
The very famous Budapest’s Chain Bridge –
Here is a photo of the same bridge by day, I hope you will agree that it is just not the same view 😛
Ending a holiday at Sziget festival
We were lucky to be in Budapest in August as one of the biggest European festivals is held here at this time – Sziget festival. Sziget is organised on an island on a Danube river making it a perfect location for partying 24/7. It lasts for 6 days and hosts dozens of international stars. If you google Sziget and watch a few promo videos you will know what I mean. It’s a fantastic experience being a part of it.
Actyally we weren’t planning on going to the festival, it all happened because we couldn’t fly on an air balloon. And the only reason why we were actually planning an air balloon flight is because it is my long term dream that my friends decided to make true for my birthday. But, you know the saying “You can predict a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather”? (I know it might have been the line from an Outcast song) So the weather happened. It was raining at night and the thing with air balloons is that they are fragile perfectionists and cannot take off of a muddy ground. So the flight failed, and we decided to spend the money on music fest. And I am glad we did it! The one regret I have about Sziget is that we only stayed for one day. I could see myself partying there for at least another two. And I was never called a party animal.
So Sziget festival along with an air balloon flight are still on my bucket list and one day I will return to Hungary to get them off it!