It is one of those things, Canadians seem to know what Canadians like when travelling. We expect things to be a certain way when we travel. I like to think we are not only open and kind while we visit different countries in the world, but like to find the off the beaten track pearls, those unique places that make our experiences truly our own.
When I am at my home in beautiful Budapest Hungary, in Elizabethtown the 7th district located just behind the Tobacco Street Synagogue, I like to nip into the pub for a pint of beer at one of the local watering holes. I listen to what the locals have to say about Budapest since joining the EU. As a fly on the wall listening to the chatter I hear what the youth have to say about how the city is changing for the better.
The next generation behind me seem to dismiss their dark communist history. Why? Probably because they are too young to remember what it was like to live through communism. Those stories are just that to them, scarey stories grandma tells us about people being taken away in the middle of the night. They don’t seem as politically charged as their parents, love American music and wish, like everyone else on the planet, to be able to work to support themselves and somewhere in there, maybe a little bit of happiness is in order. This generation just might reach that goal, as the EU tries to balance the wages across Europe.
If you look around the streets of Budapest there is evidence everywhere of a brighter future for Hungary. There is no dog feces on the sidewalks any longer, the people are well dressed, the buildings are freshly painted, and the downtown core has had a pile of EU money shipped in to give battered old communist Hungary a complete facelift to go along with her full membership of the United Europe in 2011. It seems to me that Budapest especially, is starting to stand tall again, as she did in the Austro-Hungarian empire. She regains some of her dignity after being conquered so many times. Resistant, adaptable, she holds her beautiful head up high.
As we all know, mentality is slower to change. Especially the seniors that have lived through the fall of the empire, the control of the Nazi’s and lastly the Russians brutal rule. The youth gives me hope for a strong and prosperous Hungary. The internet tells them to dream of a better tomorrow, broader education tells the youth to expect more from their country and open information via the Internet is educating Hungary as to what can be.
I visited Budapest during communism as my grandparents lived here their entire lives. I know the streets in my hood, where to go for fresh meat, and where not to go. My family has showed me our history through monuments, statues and museums and taught me to love our people, our culture and hang on to our traditions. It is those foods, music and history that my fellow Canadians will really enjoy.
If it is history you are after, Hungary’s history is rich, and goes back a thousand years. I personally enjoy learning about the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Austria and Hungary were partners during their strongest rule in Europe. The buildings from this ira are still intact, the monuments and the bridges are the remains of their glorious time in history. The architecture alone is worth every step through the winding streets of Budapest.
The Terror Museum is a place where they used to carry out the most brutal orders during the war and under communist rule. People were threatened, tortured and turned on family members in order to save their lives against the powers that were. Here, Hungary’s history is finally revealed to the public, shown through pictures and audio, the worst Nazi rule and Russian control did to the Hungarian people.
If it is nightlife you are after, their are many inexpensive accommodation throughout the downtown core to provide a great starting point on your partying adventure exploring Budapest through their bars and clubs. No need for a car, you can walk everywhere or take the train, the bus or the tram. There is an excellent underground nightlife, easily accessible online under the search Ruin Pubs . These are all the rage and people from around the world visit Budapest to party the night away and it is suitable for all ages, not only the 20ish scene. These buildings are ready for demolish and are set up with eclectic furnishings.
Cycling in Budapest is also known as one of the top five bicycle friendly cities in the world. Clearly marked paths throughout the city, Margaret Island, and along the Danube River, are all easy accessible from our neighbourhood in Elizabethtown. Budapest has MOL BUBI city bike rental offers bikes at a very inexpensive price for tourists and the community. It is a brilliant system, the same system Barcelona, and Amsterdam have. And at 2€/day you really cannot go wrong.
Hungary has made the top 10 places to visit list for over 10 years on TripAdvisor’s traveler’s choices. 4.3 million tourists can’t be wrong! Visit Budapest and see for yourself the intrigue, the beauty and the fun!