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Hungary


Officially REPUBLIC OF HUNGARY, Hungarian MAGYARORSZÁG, or MAGYAR KÖZTÁRSASÁG, country in central Europe. The nation has ethnic and linguistic roots that reach far back into the past. Its boundaries, however, have changed repeatedly over the centuries as events in Europe precipitated the reduction, expansion, and partition of Hungarian territory. 

Modern Hungary shares a border on the north with Slovakia, on the northeast with Ukraine, on the east with Romania, on the south with Yugoslavia (the Vojvodina region of Serbia) and Croatia, on the southwest with Slovenia, and on the west with Austria.
Budapest, the capital city, which dominates much of national life, is situated on both banks of the Danube (Hungarian: Duna) River a few miles downstream from the Danube Bend.

Canadian Embassy/Consulate: Zugligeti ut. 51-53 tel.1/275-1200


Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission.


The final stop on the Big Three is Budapest. I have also been here before but it still intrigues me greatly since I didn't get a chance to take some time off in the thermal baths. Apparently accomodation is getting pretty expensive although food is dirt cheap and hearty.

Keleti Train Station

    There are three main train stations in Budapest: Keleti (Eastern), Nyugati (Western), and Déli (Southern). Trains from Vienna usually operate from the Keleti station, while those to Balaton depart from the Déli.

Budapest Information Links

Not too much that I found useful but here is the best so far...
Hungarian Tourism Board - The official site.
Budapest Hotels - An online hotel reservation system. Has a search engine that allows you to specify price, location, etc. Only one hostel is located though... Also has more information like metros, the Budapest Card, and city info.
Globewalker's Guide to Budapest - Good chunk of information on Budapest including budget rooms, budget hotels and the like. Just doesn't have prices. Also has info on touristy sites. Excelent page.
Hungary Tourism Site - The best number of links that I've found so far. Has information (addresses and phone numbers) for hostels, pensions, etc. but still no prices. Links to maps, and other stuff. Not much flair but makes up for it with substance.


TRANSPORTATION

One fare ticket (50 Ft.; valid on all forms of public transport) is valid for only one ride in one direction. Tickets cannot be bought on board; they are widely available in metro stations and newsstands and must be canceled on board buses (simple, stick it into the machine and punch) or, in the case of the metro, in the time-clock machines in station entrances, unless you've purchased a napijegy (day ticket; 400 Ft., three-day costs 800 Ft., a week pass is 1700Ft), which allows unlimited travel on all services within the city limits. Spot checks by undercover checkers (look for the red armbands) often target tourists and can cost quite a bit in fines.

There is also a Budapest card available (much like the Vienna Card) and info can be found on the Budapest Hotels link. I'm not too sure if we'll do this but you never know when it might come in handy. After all, when you're trying to get used to a transit system you're bound to make mistakes, miss stops, etc. and have to backtrack.

BUS AND TRAM

Trams and buses are abundant and convenient. Most lines run from 5 AM and stop operating at 11 PM, but there is all-night service on certain key lines. 

METRO

Service on Budapest's subways is cheap, fast, frequent, and comfortable; stations are easily located on maps and streets by the big letter M (for metro). There are three lines marked by colour (yellow, red and blue). For a map click here.


Tourist Offices

There are a few and you can reach them through the links above.
Tourinform (V, Suto u. 2, tel. 1/317-9800).
IBUSZ (central branch: V, Ferenciek tere 10, tel. 118-6866).
Tourism Office of Budapest (Marcius 15 ter, tel.1/117-5964) and (Nyugati palyaudvar, tel.1/302-8580
Budapest Tourist (V, Roosevelt tér 5, tel. 1/117-3555). 
Looking for cheap transportation out of the country? Go to Vista Travel Agency. A flight to Istanbul (With Student ID ISIC) cost us 18000Ft, roughly $120CDN)


Accomodation Agencies


IBUSZ Welcome Hotel Service, V, Apaczai Csere Janos u.1, tel.1/318-3925
Coopturist, I. Attila u.107 tel.1/375-2846 or 1/375-2937
DANUBIUS, XIII. Margitsziget. Northern end of island, in the Thermal Hotel. T.:1111-000
EXPRESSZ, in Keleti station. This is the agency that handles travel for the young, including Youth Hostels. Open 24 hours.
HUNGARHOTELS, V. Petöfi Sándor utca 14. T.: 1182-033
PANNONIA, V. Kígyó utca 4-6. T.: 1183-658
For an excellent private room in the heart of the Castle District (Mora F. str. 1) contact Rudolf Cehlarik at rudolf_c@mail.holop.hu For roughly 5000Ft a night you get a private room with 2 double beds, SAT1 TV, a small fridge, and shared bathroom and shower. The sharing is with Rudolf only and you hardly see him. Upon arrival you are treated exceptionally well with fresh coffee, tea and cakes made by Rudolfs mother. This is extremely recmommended.

Youth Hostels

All matters concerning Youth Hostels are handled by the Express agency EXPRESSZ KÖZPONTI IRODA (Main ' Office). V. Semmelweis utca 4. Second (Red) Metro to Astoria. T.:1176-634,1178-600. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Sundays. Advance booking, which is strongly recommended, should be made through the above office, and not through the individual
hostels. To book groups - at least 20 weeks in advance - apply to EXPRESSZ AGENCY H-1395 Budapest, Szabadság tér 16. A hosteller arriving without a reservation should go to the above office where, if space is available, a booking will be made. Those arriving on Sundays or on a public holiday (March 15, Easter Monday, May 1, August 20, October 23 and Christmas) should go to the 24 hour Expressz office in Keleti station. Hostels marked ÉT do not accept bookings in advance.
Lotus Youth Hostel, VI. Terez krt. 56 (3rd floor), 1066 Budapest. Tel.061/131-9896

There is a flea market on the edge of town full of neat stuff.
Ecseri Hasznaltcikk Piac, IX.Nagykorosi ut. 156 (Take bus 54 from Boraros ter and is on the left hand side)
There is another one in the park north east of the city. There are some excellent buys there. Admission is 40Ft.

The Gellert Baths are in Buda's Hotel Gellert, XI. Kelenhegyi ut 4, tel. 166-6166 (Tram 47 or 40 from Deak ter to Szent Gellert ter)
The Kiraly Baths, I. Fo u.84, tel.202-3688 (Metro stop Batthyany ter). Note that men can use the baths Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the women Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Budapest is rumoured to be the cheapest place to take in the opera and other "higher cultural" experiences. Count on us going if that is the case. Check out the links for detailed information.
Magyar Allami Operahaz (Hungarian State Opera House), VI. Andrassy ut 22. tel.131-2550
Cost for an opera ticket on Sunday morning with Student ID (ISIC) is 1600Ft. You can't beat $10 opera.


Wining and Dining

Food in Budapest is supposedly cheap and very tastey. Again a few suggested places to try typical Hungarian fare:
Csarnok Vendeglo, V. Hold u. 11. Tel.061/269-4906 Kadar Etkezde, VII. Klauzal ter 9, Tel.321-3622
Sorozo a Szent Jupathoz, II. Dekan u.3 tel.115-1898
Szep Ilona, Budakeszi ut. tel.155-2851
Alfoldi Kisvendeglo, Kecskemeti u.4, tel.117-4404
Claudia, V. Bastya u. (off Kecskemeti u.) tel.117-1983
Bohemtanya, V. Paulay Ede u.6 tel.122-1453
Siraly, VI. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky ut.9 tel.122-8864

And of course there is the requirement for drink...
Beckett's Irish Pub, V.Bajcsy-Zsilinszky ut.72 tel.311-1035
Tokaji Borbar (Tokay Wine Bar), V. Andrassy ut 20. tel.269-3116
Irish Cat Pub, V. Muzeum krt. 41. tel.266-4085
Cafe Incognito, VI. Liszt Ferenc ter. 3 tel.351-9428
New York Coffeehouse is amazing. It is in all the tourist books and is not even close to being expensive.


October 25, 1999. BUDAPEST, HUNGARY.

I must say that Budapest has been very lucky for us. We got off the train and a man walked right up to us and asked us if we needed a room. The price was right so we went with him to see it and it was really great! Up by the castle district right next to the Palace and St. Mattias Church, clean and comfy. There is even a t.v. Sometimes our luck really amazes me. That night we were fairly exhausted though so we just walked around where we lived after a little nap, had some goulash soup (they're not kidding when they said it was spicy!). It is so beautiful in Europe at night because they light up all there buildings and until you see a huge gothic style church lit up against a black setting, well let's just say WOW is the word. It's just incredible. After our little walk we went to sleep (I think we're starting to get old!) and got up to a fresh start. If you haven't realized by now, we're really into just walking around and getting lost in places as a way to sightsee. It's much more fun. So we started the day walking around the grounds of the palace (with a fabulous view of the Parliament buildings - for those of you who haven't seen them or pictures, it certainly puts Ottawa to shame!). It is very Medieval looking, much more than what we've seen in the rest of Europe. Another thing you learn quickly in Budapest is that everything is really spread out, none of this walking everywhere, there is something to be said for the metro lines. For those who don't know the city is separated into Buda and Pest by the Danube.

After making our way down from the castle districe and wandering some more we ran into St. Stephen's Basilica so we took a peak in there. A little disappointing only because the entire thing is being restored right now so there is scaffolding everywhere on the inside and out - it will look fabulous when it's done though as you can tell by the completed parts already. They actually have St. Stephens hand in a fancy box that you can look at, sort of strange! For dinner we went to Rocky's favorite place from last time he was here OKAY Italia! Basically it has really good Italian food, but the draw in is the fact that it is full of waitresses in REALLY teeny skirts - so for all you guys that come to Budapest, it is a great place to go, I didn't mind that much anyways, it's all in good fun!

Well, we had a pretty easy day on Saturday, I guess a bunch of stuff must have caught up with us because both Rocky and I were absolutely beat. We went to a flea market where Rocky finally found a pocket watch that he has been looking for everywhere, and here's a cute story. When we arrived in Budapest I went to take out money, and not really paying attention, obviously, took out 150 000 forints instead of what I wanted too (15 000 forints). So here I am with $1000 CDN worth of Hungarian forints, all in 10 000 denominations, a little peeved at myself (although we did laugh pretty good about it). So, we're at the flea market and I see this burgundy embroidered pillowcase there that I like and think would be a good souvenir. The price is 1500 forints. I hmm and hahh and magically it goes down to 1300 forints. So, being the brat I am, I ask if 1000 is o.k. (expecting her to say no, I've just bartered this down from $10 to $6.50!). She says yes (it's late in the day) and as I pay I realize I have no small bills and have to pay her with a 10 000 forint bill (almost $100). Did I ever feel like a moron - here I am arguing over 300 forints! Well, we though it was pretty amusing anyways. We left the market and saw the Milennia monument and then went home and watched the rugby quarter finals (Australia beat Wales)!

Sunday was our incredibly cultural day, believe it or not we went to the Opera! We saw Traviatta (I think) by Verdi, excellent way to be introduced to the opera, italian with hungarian subtitles, needless to say we had no idea what was going on most of the time but I think we managed to piece together most of the story. If anyone knows what it is, I loved to find out how close we were! We got seats in the orchestra level, 8th row, basically dead centre for 1600 forints (about $10). The Hungarian State Opera House is really beautiful too, so it was a great experience, and not so bad, I think I could handle Opera every once in awhile (especially if I knew what was going on). After the opera we went to the National museum which was pretty interesting as it had a whole history of Hungary up to the 1940's and the old Stalin and communist memorabilia etc. was quite funny, amazing how everyone is smiling and happy all the time in the posters!! After the museum we decided that since we were sort of dressy and in this cultural mode, we would go to a nice Hungarian restaurant by our house. We got there about 45 minutes before it closed (because we had to watch New Zealand smoke Scotland in another rugby match). They let us in anyways and we had the whole restaurant to ourselves, even the piano player who gave us dinner music. It was really neat.

Today is our last full day here, we are going to try out the baths and get ready to head to Turkey tomorrow. We were planning on taking a train (which is about a 28 hour journey) but on a whim went into a travel place and asked how much a flight was. It turned out to be about $130 CDN for the 3 hour flight, guess which way we decided to travel? Our plane leaves at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Hopefully we will find some decent internet connections there.

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