The city has a strangely familiar feel. The most famous of the bridges linking the two sides is the Chain Link Bridge. It was designed by William Tierney Clark who was earlier responsible for a smaller version that crosses the Thames in Marlow. The nearby Parliament building was inspired by our own Palace of Westminster.
A short distance away is the Matthias church and the famous Fisherman’s Bastion, a great place from which to photograph the city and watch the sunset. Full of tourists during the day, after dark it becomes a more sophisticated destination with enticing restaurants. We had dinner at the intimate Pierrot located in a 13th century bakery house. The food was memorable, the sommelier knowledgeable, the service impeccable and the pianist excellent – fine dining at far less than you would pay in London.
Fancy something a bit more static? Ruin Bars are a local phenomenon. The city cannot afford to rebuild all the ruin sites so entrepreneurs have set up bars in the sites. We visited the most famous, Szimpla, just after mid-day. Many visitors were tourists having a look round, but it later becomes a lively, fun and unique place to enjoy an evening drink and admire the ruins. Rumour has it, the more you drink the better it looks!
Home for our visit was the Mercure City Centre hotel, perfectly placed for exploring the city which can mostly be done on foot, although the aged trams and underground trains are cheap and convenient. The hotel fronts Vaci Street, the main tourist pedestrian area in the city and full of bars and restaurants. Prices were certainly reasonable. At one end of the street we found Pointer, a large bar offering good pub grub which seemed to come in portions ranging from large to ‘you must be joking’. During Happy Hour, actually six hours, a half litre of excellent lager was £1.70 and the wines also come recommended. Tasty inexpensive food and drink is not a problem in Budapest.
Whilst the local currency is the Forint, Euros and plastic are almost universally accepted so we didn’t need to change any money – just used plastic. As everyone seems to speak English and signs are in both languages, Budapest is easily managed by visitors.
From great architecture and rich culture to lots of places to have fun, affordable Budapest has so much to offer.