Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BuDaPeSt, UnGaRn.

Buda-Pest were two different cities on the banks of river Danube, the second longest river of Europe which is now known as one "Budapest" after connected by the Famous Chain Bridge. The Buda is on the western side and the Pest part is on the eastern bank. It is the capital of Hungary and also one of the famous cities in Europe . With so much history behind its name, the beautiful castles and palaces, its worth a visit.

Well, I won't be mentioning out the places to visit in Budapest as there are ample of websites offering the same, however, I'd like to give some useful insights based on my personal experience starting of with your trip planner.If you wish to make your own Budapest trip plan, then I'd recommend Tripomatic a very useful web tool which is unambiguous and gives out useful suggestions including the GPS coordinates.
http://www.tripomatic.com/ , A rating of 3,5 /5

If you are a student reading this post, and I'm guessing you are not too much into museums and stuff, then I'd say two days is more than enough to explore the city. You will be covering all the must visit attractions. Art and history fans can add another day to visit the museums in peace. Many parts of the city can be covered by taking a walking tour which I prefer is the best way to explore any place. One can also do a cycle tour by hiring a bicycle on a hour/day basis at very nominal rates. 

Stay in Budapest is not at all a worry as there are numerous hotels and hostels offering at very reasonable prices. Make sure to just book in advance as Budapest is one of the hottest tourist attractions and you don't wanna end up wasting time in searching for a place to crash.
Well of course one can browse thorugh www.hostelworld.com , you can find many hostels closeby to city centre and train stations, but on a personal experience note, I found Wombats to be a very good choice.
Wombats Hostel, Budapest

It is highly recommended in terms of ambience, location, facilities, price and of course the staff.  A well sized 8 bed(no bunk beds) dorm costs you about Euros 12 a night. Breakfast cost you about Euros 3,5.  Some pics are posted in this link, check it out. http://www.wombats-hostels.com/budapest/hostelpictures/ . I rate this place 4/5. One can also find the so called party hostels for as less than Euros 7/ night but don't book these unless you wanna party into the wee hours.  

Language is a problem as its totally different and its hard to read out the sign boards too, but I'm sure no one will have a problem to get to any place, unless you suck at reading maps. But sometimes it so happens that the names are so confusing, one can easily get lost in the so many "Utcas" like we did. We miss read a place "Kiray Utca" with the actual "Kirayi Utca" and ended up wasting two hours..!!

One of the must visits which people might just chuck it off is the caves of Szemloehegyi and Palvoelgyi.
http://www.budapestinfo.org/caves.html. These are too good to be ignored, make sure to visit atleast one..!! Both are pretty close by to each other. We did a one hour guided tour although the caves stretches for about 40kms. It was just a walk on the trimmed to perfection cement pathway but got to see some very strange formations. It is believed that the present land bodies were once covered with water and vice versa.Hence fossils of sealife can also be spotted. Later we got to know by booking early( a week in advance atleast), one can do spelunking with an expert for about 3 hours.


Talking about the local transporation, it is amazingly cheap compared to other major cities in EU. Hungarian Underground Train network happens to be the first in the entire continent. The Trains and buses are not updated  to modern fancy coaches and can be compared to the old city buses of Chennai ( No offense), but considering the economy of Hungary, I am not surprised, although the connections of trams, local trains and buses are brilliant with very good frequencies. The day ticket costs about 3100 HUF for three persons, which is roughly 3 euros per head and the ticket is valid for 24 hours, not just till the day end. 

Coming to food, its very cheap,  a good meal costs you about Euros 7-8 max in a good restuarant. The food is a little spicy compared to the the western europe. Veggies please beware that Mc Donalds offer no veg stuff here!! . Make use of local super markets to buy fruits and chocolates. 

Some snaps of a Typical Food street.

For currency exchange, I'd recommed some forex at city centers rather than bus stations or hbf etc. we ended up losing quite a few euros initially by exchanging at the bus terminal( They sold at 240 Forints and bought at 280 Forints a Euro). The Forex in the city zentrum are pretty reliable( They sold at 280 Forints and bought at 290 odd Forints a Euro.) Initially carry a few Forints with you as you might need it to reach the Forex place atleast :p .
Ps: The prices indicated were as on my travel date, so expect changes. The link below can give you the present convertion rate.
*Currency Convertor* >> Hungarian Forint to Euros.  

Finally , if you are flying, the Airport is pretty far from the city centre, so make sure to atleast keep 45 mins for the travel as there is no direct local train and one needs do the last 20 mins by city Bus.

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