Budapest, Hungary - First Impressions

I think it would have been much better if I visited Budapest during Spring/Summer when it's warm, but I still liked the vibe of the city a lot. It looks modern and big like most capitals too, but at the same time it has this relaxed atmosphere that cities by the sea have. I did like this city a lot and sure will be coming back.

The not so good looking part is that there are a lot of mental/homeless people around. They are non-violent and go away if you wave them off or pay no attention to. They still do get in your face asking for something. Also you might want sometimes to watch the ground to avoid stepping in some poo (which is not always of the canine origin).

Currency

The currency is Hungarian Forint (HUF). The rate is about 300 HUF for 1 EUR, 3000 HUF for 10 €, 20000 HUF for 67 €, 30000 HUF for 100 €.

For when you need cash I found this ATM a good choice. Actually I like using N26 application to find which ATM to use as the ones provided often have a reasonable withdrawals.

Communications

Hungary has this BS where you need to have your passport or ID card to get a local SIM card.

You can get a local SIM card from T-Mobile/Telekom for around 2000 HUF (6.67 €) with 1 GB of data and some minutes. You can also top it up on-line. You can check your balance by calling #102#. It took 10-30 minutes for the internet to be available, and it took about a week (or maybe topping-up) for the 4G to start working. The good thing is that you should be able to use this data while abroad (not tested). You get an SMS once you have reached 80% of your available data.

On my second visit I had to get a new SIM card because they could not find my number by using the passport. Data + some calls cost me about 23 € and I also had to give an address and email to get registered. 4G was turned on after a day or so.

Food

At the places I visited food was good, but not good enough that I would keep on coming back for it (well maybe at least for Burger King which is another problem in itself). Also I had a fully furnished airbnb so I found it much easier to just make something basic at home and eat it while watching a movie.

Pad Thai Wokbar noodles and similar wok food. Quite tasty and interior is good enough if you want to do some work. Price around 9 € for noodles and drink.

Oriental Soup House some very filling soups for around 1000-2000 HUF (3-7 €). This kind of was my first time eating real Asian food, can't say I like it, but soups there still good.

Flying Bird Tea House is a tea house. Great if you want to chat with someone so you have something else to do (brewing water, pouring it, sharing the tea). We were put at the back of the shop so it was funny thinking like we're about to do some drug deal :D

Bank3 Palacsinta Bár is a small place where you can get some large pancakes (crepes).

Work

I had a great airbnb and did not feel like getting up from the sofa (where sun is shining on me) to work at some other space. From simple Google maps search there should be a lot of them if you do want to work at one.

Parks

Margaret Island an island in the river. Has bridges on both sides so you can walk to it. Can also visit it through other transport options (bike, boat, etc.). Has tracks for running and places to exercise while outside. Can get busy. A great place to go for a walk on a sunny day.

Gym

There are a lot of gym and yoga places around the Budapest so you should not have a problem finding one no matter where you're staying.

REDGYM Hungary a small basic gym for strength training, 1000 HUF (3.33 €) for a single day.

Traffic / Walking

Uber is not available in the Budapest (it looks like it used to be), kind of annoying.

To get from the airport to city center by taxi is (about 30 € and an hour of your time to Margaret Island / about 20 € and half an hour to district 7). The taxi stand is available right outside the airport. All the taxi apps don't look to be working so well. Using fotaxi website you can make a booking to get you to an airport (especially if you have an early flight).

There are smokers in the streets, so you will need to maneuver (streets are big for that) or hold your breath from time to time. Walking on main streets is easy to do, but it can get tiring from all the car traffic. There are a lot of smaller streets, so it's not a big problem to cut your route in the approximate direction. The walk by the river would be very enjoyable (water, sun shining, big views) if not for the road full of cars (urban disease) on the side, they should just leave that space for pedestrians. Would make a lot of other parts of the city much nicer if it did not had this urban disease.

A very annoying part of traffic is emergency vehicles. They are so loud that even with in-ear headphones (or fingers in your ears) it feels like you will start bleeding from ears. I would be lying if I said I have not should "Oh fuck you" a couple of times at emergency vehicles.

The public transport looks good enough and you can also get a public bike. Have not tried them (much at least) as could get to the most of the places in 15-45 minutes of walking.

Shops

WestEnd City Center a shopping mall which should have most of the stuff you need, just walk around. You can get local SIM card here, electronics, household goods, etc. Outside in the underground level there are small clothes market where you can buy some non-branded clothes (to feel more comfortable at home, but they are cheap enough to throw away when leaving the country).

Bio-Barát Biobolt healthy food store.

Rossmann cosmetics shop to get the stuff you don't want to take with you (slippers, scissors, creams, toothpaste, razors, etc).

Szellemlovas társasjátékbolt is a board game shop. You can also rent board games here.

Reflexshop shop with puzzles, board games, etc.

COMPKER on-line shop, but you can order and pick up here. Good for getting some electronics.

Hifi-Barlang audio shop, used it to get myself new headphones.

Entertainment / Visit

Miniversum Budapest museum of miniatures. Very interesting, especially if you like things like this. Has educational part about Hungary in Soviet Union. There are buttons that influence the miniatures (through sound, light, or movement). The second part is not as interesting, but still good. If possible would suggest to visit when there are no people, or you will get at least a good distance from the next person.

I used to think that VR is bullshit, but at the same time I dislike saying something like it without actually trying it first to confirm. BadChickenVR is the place where you can play VR games. Maybe not the place where you would stay for a long time, but you can enjoy it once in a while why walking past WestEnd City Center. 10 minutes is about 1500 HUF (~5 €).

PremiAir Simulation the simulator where you fly a Boeing. Was interesting experience and educational, worth to try at least once. This made me to appreciate pilots and engineers a lot more (for getting me alive from point A to point B in basically a large projectile made from metal). One hour flight with video recording (which you might skip as the quality is not the best) is around 70 €.

Nightmare in Budapest haunted house where you run a lot in the dark. Learned how it feels when someone is chasing you with a chainsaw (played too much Resident Evil). Goes a bit farther than normal "scary" attractions (you can really start feeling un-easy when a metal axe is getting close to your fingers). Maybe could have done with less running in the dark.

Panic Room - The Real Saw escape room in the theme of the first Saw movie. Start it by being locked with the chains in the opposite room sides. The beginning is really cool because you're locked and see in the dark the other person in the opposite side of room and you have to collaborate to get out. Most of the puzzles are well done (few could be done better). The room should be suggested for min 3 people as it would contain a lot of running around with 2 people. The intro is in the themed voice, which adds to the atmosphere, but then you can't understand a single word said it's just a bad decision.

Play VR Budapest is where you can play VR games. Lots of space, friendly staff, and good place to recharge after work. Prices are about 5500 HUF (~18 €) for an hour.

Game Over - Console Museum if you like video games you might want to visit this place. Will see some thing you might have only heard/read about and it might bring back childhood memories. The place gives a feel of dirty teenager's room, just not sure if it was intentionally.

Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden has some interesting enclosures, but you can skip if you visited some bigger zoo somewhere else (like in Amsterdam).

Weather

I was visiting during the October. There was cold days were you want to have something to stop the wind. There was also some rainy days, but you could deal with it without having an umbrella. Most of the days there sunny and really nice to walk around. Towards the end of the month the weather turned cloudy/chilly/wet.

For other locations in the world see intro article.

Posted in: Personal, Tips, Travel

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