Some lame jokes you usually hear when people speak of Hungary go like this: “Are you hungry? Let’s go to Hungary!”, “Where is this part of the world where people are always hungry? Hungary!”, and “Boo-da-pest” (as in, “Down with the rascal”) among many others. I think nationalist/religion/values-oriented jokes are really the worst to blubber, so some people should seriously think of other ways to break the ice (peace out!).
Hungary is one of those countries which I think is grossly underestimated these days, which should be a surprise if we look into its prime orientation in European history. The country has been influential to the expansion of Germany, France, and Italy among others. One good read is Laszlo Kontler’s A History of Hungary.
Also, some homegrown inventions that’s been making our life more colorful: Rubik’s Cube, ballpoint pen, soda water machine, binoculars, safety match, Vitamin C, carburettor, helicopter, coach carriage, electric transformer, AC watt meter, color TV, plasma and flat-panel TV, BASIC programming language, Microsoft Word and Excel, holography (the process of creating 3D images), Prezi, and the Pulitzer Prizes (its namesake, Joseph Pulitzer, founded Columbia University’s School of Journalism).
Some Tips on Visiting Hungary:
- When in Budapest [buddah-pesht], it’s better to stay in the city center because shops close quite early in the suburbs. You have a range of options from independent (e.g. Hotel Budapest) to chain hotels (e.g. Hotel Ibis). The country still uses the Hungarian Forint which is why goods are more affordable. No pressures from the EU!
- Hungary is famous for its public baths. Szechenyi Baths are the most popular and one of the oldest, dating back to 1913.
- Download the TransitTimes+ app. This will save you loads of time in trying to find the best subway and train routes.
- Why I want to go back: it’s a perfectly situated country making it convenient and practical to travel around Eastern Europe. It provides a good window to Western Europe through Germany… All through the wide network of train lines. I also love how life seems to feel a bit slow here.
- As with any country in the world: Do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂
P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in the local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤