Budapest!

Have you wanted to visit a place which is cultural, cheap and captivating? Budapest is for you!

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Budapest is often described as the “Little Paris of Middle Europe”. It has outstanding monuments and historical places, which represent it’s 1,000 year culture. It is divided into two parts: Buda and Pest. It has a lot to offer, and is perfect for those who want to sightsee.

We stayed in the hotel  Royal Boutique Hotel – which was ideal and quirky. The highlight of the room was that the shower was a wall in the room – which was unique.

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KFC Pizza – on the same street as our hotel.

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It was located in Keleti – which was a perfect travelling location. When we first arrived into the area we was a bit concerned as there were groups of macho Hungarian men hanging outside our hotel. Also the road is quite narrow, with houses on top of each other. We had arrived in the night though, so we checked in and got an early night.

The next day we went exploring! Keleti train station is beautiful and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The building is huge with two horse statues, and a large clock. You could get a train ticket for so cheap. I would worn you that unfortunately there was a lot of homeless, especially on the night time (which was sad to see.) When we were buying train tickets on more than one occasion a homeless person would ask us for money, normally seeing the change from the ticket.

The only thing is that it’s one of the least English friendly in terms of content communication. Normally they have the text in their language, and converted in English – but this was rarely done in Budapest. This meant that with the assistance of Google I’d have to try and work out the route and location in Hungarian – so if you want to learn their language, then there’s no better way right?

We went to Fisherman’s Bastion. This was a great cultural landscape to visit and I highly recommend it. Statues and heights that were breath taking. We saw Hungarian ladies wearing traditional vibrant outfits, a tuk tuk (which reminded me of Thailand), a couple in ballroom attire having their pictures taken and even a wedding! It was busy and beaming with culture – yet it was so spacious that it wasn’t crowded.

We then took a short walk and found some more wonderful sites, one including a memorial.

We then came across Budapest castle.
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We then came across another wedding, but this time was located at the peak of the building, with loads of chairs – it’s a shame we couldn’t see this.

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We continued walking and saw a model having her pictures taken in the barn – there was so much photography because I’ve never seen a place so photogenic.

We walked in this underground bit and it was very spooky – ice cold and you could hear a pin drop. I was in a rush to get out!

On a rainy day, we came across Shoes on the Danube Bank  – which is a quiet memorial to holocaust victims killed by the Arrow Cross fascists in late World War Two.  Seeing the shoes lined along the bank is quite chilling and touching. We came back nearer to the evening, and loads of people gathered around and lit candles.

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This is a short walk away from Parliament – we did walk here and want to get tickets, but they had sold out on the days we wanted, so we was unable to do so. The building was huge and if we went back I’d book the tickets in advance to make sure we visit here!

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Hungarian food = delicious! I could eat the food all day, every day. It reminded me of Turkish/greek cuisine. My favourite would have to be their chicken kebabs.

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Site seeing bus! We brought tickets for a ‘bus of budapest’, where they provided headphones and you could chill. It was raining and we didn’t want to miss out so we done this to pass the time. We had already seen most, so didn’t benefit from this greatly. It’s could if you can’t walk around and want to hear about the history of Budapest.

Quirky designs!

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Escalators for dayssss!(literally)

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Trofea Grill Downtown – 10000% recommend! – however there is two, so make sure you go to the correct one! (unlike us initially). We hadn’t tried food in the first one, so can’t rate this. The first one we went to took hours and was a sketchy part of Budapest, we arrived when it closed – so this didn’t help. In the end we got a taxi to the main one and it was amazing! Unlimited food and unlimited prosecco! It was so busy even though we went in September. We only got a table because it was so late – so I would recommend booking a table in advance. There was an English family on our left and a single elder dutch man on our right – there was a huge mixture of cultures which was good and it was a positive atmosphere. They say that you can have the table for two hours.

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Szechenyi Thermal Bath Spa = The highlight! There are quite a few thermal spa’s in Budapest, but we only tried this one, as from the reviews it seemed like the larger, more popular one. This was so cheap, roughly about £15 and you get to stay here as long as you want (we stayed here all day.) They had green tea spa pools, freezing cold ones, sauna and outside space. This was amazing and what I’d do to have one of these in England! We were there most of the day and if we had longer would have came back. I would say however that the drinks and food is expensive. We got a tram to here and it didn’t take long at all.

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After three jam packed days we were on route home! We had an amazing time but after all the walking we needed some rest. I would highly recommend visiting here! I am eager to go back (when funds allow) lol.

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Amsterdam – The land of dutch and ‘herbal’ substances.

As you are most likely aware, Amsterdam is the Netherlands capital, known for it’s culture, heritage and flexibility on certain laws.

I’m not particularly fond of the whole ‘herbal’ scene, but the idea of exploring a city that boasts exquisite architecture, history and canals seemed somewhat appealing.

I have just finished University, so my funds are a bit limited. I had a look on Wowcher, and noticed that they had an offer for Amsterdam – one which you couldn’t turn down.

I managed to book four days, in a hotel that wasn’t too far from Centraal station.

I arrived at Southend Airpoirt, Essex – it is the ideal airport as it’s small, not crowded and is very quick to board your flight *travel heaven*.

We had a morning flight, which lasted around 30 minutes – with Easy Jet. It was the quickest flight I had ever been on. If I were to go again, I would get a ferry and drive to Amsterdam.

Landing, we went to the local taxi rank and got in a mini bus that was 17euro. (If we would have known it would have been easier to get the airport train for 4euro).

It was a five minute journey to our hotel: Kings Court.

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First impressions: The staff were very friendly and very welcoming. The hotel was modern and clean. We arrived early, and we were told that our room would be ready around 2:00 o’clock. The man stored out suitcases in a security based room and even agreed to put our duty free behind reception. This is the first time that I’ve actually felt at ease about leaving my luggage. The rooms had two single beds for me and my friend. Very modern, with dark wood detailing. The bed was the most comfortable I’ve slept in (double mattress). Very clean. The bathroom was very modern, with a walk in shower. The only negatives is that there was only one mirror in the bathroom and the traffic outside could get noisy during the day. Cold breakfast was included – but we didn’t use this.

Day One:

We accidentally walked to the train station which was very far away, so took around 45 minutes. The station had a huge pool with thick green algae and little ducks trying to swim. Bikes were evidently everywhere at the station.

We later realised that Lelylaan train station was a five minute walk from our hotel, and was a short walk through the building works.

From here we got the tram, where one would come every few minutes to Centraal station. We asked for a one hour ticket, which was 2.90 euros.

The weather was quite humid for August. But, we were glad that there was clear skies. We got off at a station near Centraal and begun to explore.

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All of the buildings and narrow side walks all looked very similar, and it was easy to get lost. It was very absurd seeing cannabis being promoted everywhere. There were brownies, smoking places, shops. The one I found most amusing was the ‘Cannabis Ice Cream’

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We had a look in a few of the shops – and I do recommend the clothes! Admittedly I thought that the make-up was over priced, they stock Anastasia Beverly Hills! However at double the price, as a eyebrow dip pomade was 30 euros… However my favourite clothes shop was ‘Only’ were I brought two reasonable priced tops.

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Food: ‘Globe Kitchen Steakhouse’ – I ordered a Aperol Spritz (because treat yourself, why not) for 8.50 euros (my friends smoothie was 7.50 euros). The decor was retro, but a bit outdated. Narrowly thin, like the majority of the buildings, with a narrow staircase leading downstairs to the toilet. Staff wasn’t as welcoming. I was hungry, but not overly. I asked what the ‘mixed snack’ was on the menu, and she just replied ‘meat’. This is what it was, to be honest it wasn’t nice at all. I’m unsure what the meat was, it was different colours of orange, grey etc – not appetising at all. I ordered chips as was hungry, and they were nice.

Sex Museum –  5euros entry – cheap and is hugely popular for tourists – so we thought we would have a look around. It was filled with mannequins, some that moved and had music. The majority of it had pictures with a lot of writing and was very small. It was quite archaic and had a 60s sort of feel to it. I think that it’s quite over rated and won’t be going back, but I found there wasn’t many touristy places, so it’s worth seeing for the small fee, but don’t expect much.

 

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Second Day:

We had another day of sightseeing, making use of the one hour unlimited tram ticket. There were a few horses and carriages – which were very pretty. Unique statues and building and the canal. There was the option to get pedal bikes – but unfortunately they were all sold out when we went.

The Bulldog – Upon research, this is one of the main coffee shops in Dam, so we thought we would see what it was like. We went in one of the smaller ones, were there were a chain of three. It was quite small and very busy, it had a sort of forest and mushroom theme. Loads of people were obviously smoking and some had sunglasses on. A laptop was playing ‘Tomorrowland’ house music, and the workers were smoking themselves. We ordered a fruit smoothie, so we did feel a tad awkward as everyone was smoking. We done some more sightseeing and came home early. We asked the hotel if they done room service, but that was closed for the summer, so they gave us a takeaway menu. It was 20 euro for a pizza, chips and drink. We get an early night, as we were up early.

 

Day Three: Anne Franks House – A MUST-DO! In the morning we went to a nearby cafe and had a small english breakfast – 10euros and brought a cupcake, which looked nicer than it tasted. We then headed to Anne Franks house, which I had previously ordered online. It was the 30 minute induction, with the museum. We waited at the canal then headed over for out 1:30 slot. We entered the building, then a room with pictures of Anne Frank and her life. A dutch lady, spoke about explained the timeline, then we picked up a earset then could walk around the museum at our own pace. It was very interesting but also sad about what the family had to endure whilst here. I won’t go into too much detail, but it is defiantly worth doing. If you get a chance to write in the guestbook at the end, then I would highly recommend. There is a souvenir shop, which had the books (tempting), but I just brought a postcard.

Day Three Evening:

We brought a medium meal from Mcdonalds, which was amazing, but 10 euroes. We really disliked the dutch food, so this was a safe option. This was in Centraal. We also saw a group of people being filmed for a music festival – which was quite interesting. We decided to go to the infamous ‘Red Light District’ just to see what it’s all about. It is pretty much what everyone says it is like. It was very busy – mainly large groups of men. Once we had walked through we wanted to find a nice bar that we could sit and have a few drinks, however we couldn’t find any nice bars. We were quite bored and there wasn’t that much to do. When we walked further out it did seem like Amsterdam is more of a night city, as it was a lot more busy. I think it was defiantly better suited to men and/or couples. The rest of Dam, was lit up, which was quite pretty.

 

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Day Four (Final Day)

We went back to our favourite cafe – St Pauls Cafe, where we had a english fry up! (Literally lived off fry ups). Had a coffee, which was equivalent to two mouthfuls. The weather wasn’t very nice and we were quite tired, so after walking around for a bit, we headed back to the hotel, where we chilled until the evening. We paid 4 euros for a train to the airport, which was around 7 minutes – defiantly recommend. Goodbye Amsterdam!

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Things I didn’t do, which I wish I did: Museums, ride a bike, canal ride…

Upon reflection: I admired the architecture, culture and very good transport. I disliked that is was very pricey, bikes were prioritised over pedestrians and that there wasn’t much to do on the evening. If you want a chilled holiday, then this would be more for you.

Tips: Take a lot of money! Each basic meal is between 10-20 euros, bring an umbrella, wear comfy trainers.

Please let me know your thoughts on Amsterdam! Ox