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St. Stephen's Basilica
Budapest, Hungary; Aug 1, 2005

the low down

Szecheny Ianchid (Chain Bridge) over the Danube

What we did: Unfortunately, Susan spent most of her time in Budapest recovering from an ugly stomach flu. This, combined with the rain, made our short week here even shorter, so we really only scratched the surface.

Overall: If you've never been, it's easy to make the mistake of thinking that Budapest will feel like a long oppressed Eastern-Bloc country. And of course there are times when it does make you think of this, but they are rare; Budapest is a fairly modern city with so much to explore.

Essentials: In general, you can find things fairly easily here.

Food: In a word…hearty. Eat here for a few months and you too can try for the shotput world record.

Fast Food Weak Moment: In the states, we eat at a fast food restaurant about once per year. But one day, when Susan was home sick, Grace noticed that the McDonald's at Oktogan advertised ice cream for 50 Forints (about $.25). It turns out that if you go inside, it costs 100 Forints, but as long as you buy it through the outside window, it only costs 50 Forints. Lots of ice cream...no complaints.

Cost of Living: Quite reasonable, compared with the cost of the rest of Europe.

The view from the top of St. Stephen's Basilica

Exchange rate: $1 USD = 201 Forints (HUF)

Having an apartment: Our apartment is in District VI near Oktogan – a big intersection where it’s easy to catch buses and metros. It’s visited by tourists, but we’re outside of the normal tourist zone which is nice.

What's fabulous: The architecture. And if you love museums, there are more here than you can shake several sticks at.

Weather: It’s the end of July/early August and it’s hot and rainy but the weather is generally good enough to go out and walk around everyday.

Getting around: The trams around town are great, and cheap. We bought a one-week pass. Strangely, nobody bothered to check our pass (the whole system operates on the honor system) until the last day.

Random translations: "Sajnos nem beszélek magyarul" = "Sorry, I do not speak Hungarian." For Grace, the easiest trick to remembering this is to remember the commonly used English phrase: "Sho' nuf,' I'm not a basilisk; mag wheels rule!"

Specific places we visited/things we did:

- Szecheny Ianchid (Chain Bridge): One of many bridges that connect the Buda and the Pest sides of the city. This becomes pedestrian-only on some days and is filled up with a small local market of arts, crafts and food.

Fishermen's Bastion in the Buda Castle District

- Andrassy Street: This beautiful, wide, tree-lined street is one of our favorite streets in the world! It has cute little cafes, shops and huge planters full of flowers.

- St. Stephan's Basilica (or St. Istvan’s, in Hungarian) – Nice, big church with great 360-degree views of the city.

- Buda Castle District – It’s actually sort of a small town in itself! It’s fun to spend an afternoon here visiting Fishermen’s Bastion for some great views of the city and relaxing in one of their cafes (with plenty of pastries to keep you company).

- Stex: This is a frequently recommended restaurant that supposedly has good local food. We went, but the food really wasn't that good and it seemed not very authentic to us. You can find better.

- Szechenyi Baths: Lots of pools, including some outside stuff which was nice, sauna, steam room, etc… The total cost for staying under 2 hours was about $7.50 each – a pretty good deal.

Check out the budapest gallery for pix of all the above!

© 2004-2012 susan & grace, all rights reserved

-- comments from readers --


As an American living here, I found your overview excellent. This is an beautiful and often misunderstood city.

--Ryan J. (Budapest, Hungary); Apr 18, 2007


I was just reading your sites about Budapest and some other countries and it is funny! Interesting to see what is thinking about Budapest from a foreign couple. (I am not living in Budapest, in an other town.) Now i think you are in Croatia, i was there in the beginning of August. Have a good time there and visit the towns in the coast!(Split, Dubrivnik, Trogir) And you can find very beutiful beaches there!

--Juliana (Sopron, Hungary); Aug 16, 2006


When my husband, children, and I went to Europe four weeks ago for a professional meeting, we used the notes that you and Susan wrote on Budapest to help us decide how to spend our time while there. Thank you!

--Kathy T. [Grace's 5th grade teacher] (North Carolina, USA); Jun 26, 2006