Budapest is a popular destination in Europe – there are cheap flights to and from Budapest provided by the usual budget airlines such as EasyJet. The language is a little impenetrable & although I speak fluent enough French and decent Spanish it doesn’t help as the language is really quite unrelated.
Getting around on the metro, trams & buses is easy enough – one trap for the unwary tourist though is the ticket validation trap……
It’s not enough to buy a ticket… you MUST validate it on entering the metro line or on getting on a bus or tramcar. You simply push it inside the little orange box ….and if the first one doesn’t work…move down inside and try the second which is usually just a little way inside the bus or tram. The orange boxes don’t work brilliantly and the tickets tend to bend and not register…. so keep trying until you hear a good ‘thunk’ and a portion of the ticket is nibbled away. That’s the validation and the Hungarian subway enforcers are very keen on finding tourists without validated tickets and fining them on the spot. Trust me..they are bored out of their minds and the moment they spot anyone looking like a tourist they will think it’s payday. I disappointed a few with my beautifully validated tickets….. they looked really crestfallen when they realised i’d punched the ticket and they couldn’t fine me.
So – assuming you arrive at the airport…. turn immediately left on exciting the passport control and there’s a lovely English speaking guy/lady at the tourist counter who will give you maps and sell you a bunch of ten public transport tickets – it’s cheaper to buy in tens.
There’s a bus to the outskirts of the metro system – bus number 200E commutes between Terminal 2 and the Kőbánya-Kispest metro terminal (metro line M3) – remember to punch the ticket on the bus!
The bus leaves from just outside and the stop is clearly marked…it runs until 11.00pm.
At Kőbánya-Kispest metro (don’t worry the stop is obvious) get off the bus and walk up some stairs and over the road to find the metro entrance…… – remember to punch a NEW ticket at the bank of little orange validation boxes that form a before the escalators!
All is well.. you are getting the hang of this…. just be SURE to validate those tickets and thwart the transport goons…who are Not helpful and won’t cut you any slack for not understanding the system. This is not just my observation… it’s pretty well known and is just one of those tiny foibles you find in any city.
Now you know how to use the transport – avail yourself of the extensive (and cheap) network of trams, buses and metro trains that will whisk you pretty much anywhere you need to go within Buda or Pest.
Worth checking out is the Market hall – near Liberty bridge – there’s some tourist ‘tat’ there but on the whole it’s a genuine market hall for locals who come to buy produce. On a rainy day it’s a good place to hang out, & browse the stalls.
The market Hall is a good place to come if you like Wine… or meat. Actually though it’s a good place to buy quality fruit food and vegetables if you’re after something quick and easy to eat.
….There are plenty of choices for eating out but one of the biggest draws to Budapest are the ruin pubs – basically bars built within older blocks in the Jewish Quarter. They have that kind of ‘Berlin wall’ grunge hippy feel that those of us of a certain generation will recognise…. the clue is in the name… they aren’t called ‘ruin pubs’ for nothing. If you find Kazinczy u. on the map and head there you’ll find a selection of cool cafes and one of the largest ruined pubs called Szimpla Kert.
Eat and drink to you hearts content in these places .. they are a far cry from the crappy clip-joints with strippers that set out to trap the Stag Party set in the major Tourist part of town.
A fabulous Goulash with a couple of craft beers is going to come in at under $6 – basically you can eat and drink in these places and not worry about remortgaging your house when the check comes. Budapest was cheap in the good old days of communism ( i got drunk here and ate a huge meal in the 1980s for about $3) and the place still retains a whiff of an austere Eastern European feel that i rather love.
I actually came back to Budapest with view to firing off a few small arms in one of the various gun clubs. I chose Celeritas shooting club which is a little outside the very centre of Budapest but is highly accessible via taxi (The website gives you the number of a reputable taxi firm that speak English and have a good relationship with the club – you simply ring them and ask for pick up at your address. 30mins later you’ll be on the range.
There are various packages to choose from – and once you have your package you can then add individual guns of interest. I chose the WWII package which comes with plenty of iconic handguns such as the Luger and Walther PPK followed by some serious automatic weapons.
Being a guy of a certain generation i only really wanted to shoot the World War II weapons which are beautifully maintained and are really a lot of fun.
As it turned out the German MP38 was my favourite weapon – with a fabulously pneumatic recoil and a very comfortable feel.
Along with the older weapons there are a huge range of very modern guns and precision instruments.
Look carefully and you can see the spent carriage being ejected far right…..
After a lot of gunfire i took a local bus back the centre of town – which turned out to be very easy and for the price of one transport ticket it was a real bargain. Not that the taxi ride out was that expensive – about $12 i think. The bus stop is just opposite the club and buses are frequent.
The bus then drops you at the Hatar Ut Metro station at which point you shimmy downstairs and pick up the fast metro into the city centre. If you’re feeling adventurous then stick with a tram and get to see more of the city as you travel into town.
Back to the banks of the Danube and a quick photo of before the light fades.
The river Danube dominates the city in part and there are some dramatic edifices and hills to take in – Gellért Hill shown here is about 230 m high and is named after Saint Gerard who was thrown from the top to meet a tragic end.
On a cloudy day it may not look like much but the the area is listed as a world heritage site and the scale is evident from the photo above.
I wish i’d taken more pictures in Budapest but the weather was pretty overcast and dreadful – plus i was really there on a mission to relax and deliberately try not take pictures. I fulfilled my ambition to shoot some stupidly big guns though and made a vow to return soon.