|Sainr Matthias' Church|
The economic and political history of Hungary is arduous. This isn't a country that has the resources to doll up every building, which in some ways is a shame, and in some ways is possibly a good thing. The beautiful buildings that have undergone restoration or rejuvenation since Hungary ended its years of dictatorship are stunning. The Basilica is simply wonderful, Saint Matthias' Church on the Buda hill looks colourful and almost new in the sunshine, Parliament is a gentle nod to the extravagance of our own House of Commons. There are glimpses of just about every architectural style on almost every corner.
|Market Stalls in Pest|
Not having the time or finances to renovate does leave the city with a unique atmosphere. The former Ministry of Defence stands derelict and wounded as a powerful reminder of the Communist/Nazi fighting, and once proud buildings are left empty for years on end like the enormous Television Centre. It's hard to find an area of the city centre that isn't wrapped up in the country's unfortunate past.
The parks in the city have character and draw crowds of tourists and skaters, meaning that in the midst of old Communist building blocks and battered souvenir shops, there is still somewhere to picnic. The nicest bars and cafes are hidden behind churches or in off-street terraces. The only way to eat or drink in Budapest is to follow recommendations- there is no central strip that you can march down and be guaranteed to find somewhere fabulous. No, that'd be too easy in the secretive Budapest. The closest thing to a general recommendation I could provide you with is this: Stay in the Jewish Quarter. That way, if you get lost in the labyrinth of interconnecting streets, you'll probably stumble across Szimpla, the city's celebrated kert, or somewhere equally as cool and hidden.
|Me being all casual outside a gorgeous church in City Park|
I've never seen anywhere else like this city. The sharpness in the contrast between the old and new parts of kept on being an unusual thing to see, even after a week. I think the most bizarre aspect of it all is that there isn't a rich area and a poor area, or a more developed area versus a completely abandoned one. All of Budapest is scattered with the two starkly different slants. It's probably the only place I've ever been where each street is almost identical to the next, but only by virtue of the fact that each street is so mismatched and unique. Amazing really. Plus it explains why I spent most of the week lost or depending on my housemates for directions.
|Szimpla Kert's Shisha Bar.|
I'm going to work on posting some of my favourite finds in Budapest, so you're going to be treated to a more specific take on what the city has to offer. Lucky you!