Posted by: travelrat | April 16, 2018

Budapest

MS Travelmarvel Jewel, Budapest

Our ship, from the Royal Palace, Budapest.

Once, two cities stood on opposite banks of the Danube. They were called Buda and Pest. They still exist, for, in 1873, it was decided to combine the two cities, and call the result Budapest. In older books, indeed, you may occasionally see the form Buda-Pest. Buda, on the western bank, a hilly place, is where the Royal Palace was (still is, but these days, it’s an art gallery) and where the great and the good resided; Pest is flatter, and is where the greater proportion of ordinary people hung out.

Budapest is the capital of Hungary, and, before 1918, was the co-capital, with Vienna, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Since it’s about as close to the centre of Central Europe as you can get, there’s a hodge-podge of architectural styles to the buildings.

In her book ‘No Baggage’ Clara Bensem wrote that Budapest was:

 ‘…almost like the buildings had been plucked from Paris, Vienna and Berlin …’ 

Earlier, the composer Gyorgy Ligeti had written:

‘If you come to Budapest from Paris, you think you are in Moscow. If you come to Budapest from Moscow, you think you are in Paris’

I don’t want to set myself up as any sort of authority on the city; I didn’t spend anything like a long enough time there. But, I will pass on a little wrinkle I picked up. Hungary is a member of the EU, but doesn’t use the euro. Since we wouldn’t be there very long, was it worth obtaining some Hungarian currency, or would they accept euros? I was lucky enough to meet a Hungarian couple in the Gallery at Stonehenge and they told me yes; many places in Budapest would accept the euro, but warned me that, often, at an exchange rate just on the legal side of larceny. We learned, also, that they would often give your change in forints.

So, we took a small amount in forints … and, in the event, only bought some postcards and a fridge magnet. For the rest of the trip, it was euros all the way.

 


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