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I say Buda, you say Pest, BUDAPEST!


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So the title is inspired by what my excited friend Prerna kept screaming as we headed for customs clearance (the part of travel, I hate). I grew just as excited after we finished and finally got into a taxi. After a forty minute drive, the kind driver dropped us off at our first destination, the Szechenyi Baths of Budapest. It was a fine sunny day and the impressive exteriors were just as strikingly beautiful as they seemed in the images that I had found on the net.

Photos of Danube, Budapest 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

While Arun was responsible for our flight and hotel bookings, Niranj, Prerna and I had taken it upon ourselves to decide what places we would visit during our 'Euro 2016' tour. I was responsible for Budapest and it was nice to see that my efforts didn't land us in a place that wasn't 'attractive' :P But then, there was the price that we had to pay. Just a mere tour of the baths cost us a good 4,700 HUF. Nevertheless, we were quite guilt-ridden because Hungarian Francs are probably the closest European currency you would find, to Indian rupees.

Photos of Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest, Állatkerti körút, Hungary 1/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Széchenyi Thermal Bath, Budapest, Állatkerti körút, Hungary 2/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

The walk to all other destinations from here was really easy. We barely spent a night in Budapest, yet we covered all major tourist attractions and even got a good feel of the city. Well you could also say, it's the perks of traveling while you are still young and energetic!

Our next destination was the Vajdahunyad Castle and city park (Varsolijet), built to celebrate 1000 years of power after their conquest of the Carpathian basin. Of course, it is always nice to learn the history of a place, but what I enjoyed most was a walk through its premises and the city park.

Photos of Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, Hungary 1/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest, Vajdahunyad vár, Hungary 2/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Városliget játszótér, Budapest, Ajtósi Dürer sor, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

At sundown, we made our way to the Heroes square and spent half an hour watching life go by. In Europe, the sun Lord is quite generous with light during summer days and you can expect him to be up until almost 8pm. So we waited there until dark to find out why Budapest was called "Paris of the East". It all became clear when we started walking towards the 'Buda' side of the city that night.

Photos of Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, Hungary 1/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, Hungary 2/2 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

On our way, we came across the St. Stephen's Basilica and the Hungarian state opera house well known to us from Hollywood movies. Although, a walk by the streets of these well-lit attractions did remind me of the good times I spent in Paris, I certainly preferred Budapest over Paris. I wondered why they didn't call Paris 'Budapest of the West'. Well, if you like smaller cities which are not very crowded and let you explore at your own pace, you might agree with me.

Photos of St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Hungarian State Opera, Budapest, Andrássy út, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Before crossing the Danube to leave the 'Pest' side of city behind us, we grabbed some food at a street-side restaurant. Budapest is quite famous for its ruin pubs, as the buildings that house these pubs are quite old and mostly in ruins. Here's one that we spotted while trying to decide on a place for dinner.

Photos of Ruin Pub Crawl, Budapest, Dohány Street, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh

Finally, the best memories of our trip come from the night we spent admiring the Pest side of the city from the Buda side. As none of us could afford accommodation there, we spent the night by the Chain Bridge and had an experience of a lifetime. The night grew darker and so did the city. Our adrenalines kicked in as we saw prostitutes and drugged individuals roaming the streets. They even made us flee the spot we found after we crossed back over to the Pest side. Yes, travel is a lot of fun. But even European countries can be quite shady after nightfall. Our adrenalines kicked in and not once did we let our guards down until 6 am, next morning, when we could finally fall asleep on our seats, in the bus to Prague.

Photos of Chain Bridge, Budapest, Budapest Batthyány tér - Budapest Vigadó tér, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Buda Castle, Budapest, Szent György tér, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Kossuth Lajos tér, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
Photos of Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest, Szentháromság tér, Hungary 1/1 by Mahalakshmi Venkatesh
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