Budapest offers the traveller plenty of stimulation. Sample Hungarian wine, stroll along the Chain Bridge, visit Heroes Square (a resting place for fallen Communist leaders). You can also visit Szechenyi Thermal Baths, a massive complex offering every type of sauna and steam room imaginable and all-natural thermal baths. Yet the biggest attraction in Budapest, to my way of thinking, are the architectural triumphs like the Parliament Building.
One of the most frustrating elements of traveling through Europe is the way a vast, impressive church is followed by a dilapidated Jewish ghetto. If there is a synagogue at all it is probably a half-collapsed hovel next to some terribly distraught-looking Jewish Cemetery. Budapest was a surprising exception. The Great Synagogue in the center of Budapest was an impressive edifice with a unique facade. The museum and holocaust memorials were also intriguing. These were worthy competition for the most renown landmarks in Budapest, such as Buda Castle.
Perhaps the best part of visiting new venues is the possibility of a random encounter that seems to defy pure chance. This makes the globe smaller. One happened to me when our bus tour passed the Budapest Zoo. My last name is Nagin. As you can see my Hungarian compatriots apparently named their zoo after me.
Then, too, immersing yourself in the cultural milieu requires a willingness to sample the local cuisine. The Hungarian Goulash I had on the train over from Prague was exotic, freshly made, and had plenty of spice.
Interestingly enough, Budapest is split into two sections, Buda and Pest. I was on the pest side, which seemed fitting since flies circled the falafel I ordered.
I cannot say, either, that hygiene is necessarily as treasured a commodity as in the United States. Many times I came across bathrooms lacking even the tiniest bar of soap. The hands of food preparers were often in need of a scrub. Finally, the Hungarian accent is rather harsh, making one wonder whether the individual you are talking too is considering beheading you. The statue below offers a worthy representation of the overall militant vibe.
Still, in the end I felt the oddities I encountered made Budapest a more fully rounded cultural experience. A trip without frequent journeys to the bathroom is not really an adventure. A bit of a militant vibe keeps you on your toes. Besides, Budapest allows travelers to explore some truly remarkable historical landmarks. If you are lucky enough to visit, don’t hesitate. It’s a magnificent city!