Top Five Reasons to Visit Budapest

As we arrived in Budapest, it was literally as if the heavens opened up and the sun made it's grand appearance for the first time in days.  We walked around the beautiful city with the warmth of the sunshine on our backs.  Our first stop, ice cream cones for the littles and coffee for the bigs... and we were off to explore. 😊  Of course the weather plays a HUGE factor on travel, it can really make or break a trip; but there was something special about Budapest beyond the warm golden sunshine reflecting off the ornate buildings.  Especially since the blue skies only lasted so long and the clouds and rain quickly returned the following day.  Nevertheless, Budapest still proved itself to be AMAZING!

We met up with our "travel" friends, Christina and Adrian, from London and stayed in the heart of the Pest side, looking out at the Budapest eye, a great big ferris wheel in the center of Erzsébet Square.  We chose an airbnb to sleep  because it is always so fun to bunk up with our friends and we normally spend a little more time in our accommodations, especially at night.  Matt and I like to put our boys to sleep early and then hang out ALL night catching up with them!  We had SO much fun, despite all the forces working against us, aka: rainy cold weather on our only full day in Budapest, and crabby children. ;-)

1. Architectural Beauty
A few years ago, Matt saw an ad for the Viking River Cruises and in the commercial, an ornate, gorgeous Gothic building flashed across the screen and caught his eye.  The view was breadth-taking and Matt knew we HAD to see it in person.  He quickly googled what building was in the ad and found it to be the Budapest Parliament building.  Budapest's architecture is gorgeous, and the Parliament building in all its beauty sitting right along the Danube River really is outstanding to see.  There are so many gorgeous buildings to view in Budapest: the Parliament, St. Stephen's Basillica, The Opera House, Buda Palace, Fisherman's Bastion, and Mathias Church, to name a few.

2. Kid Friendly
From the moment we stepped foot on Pest ground, we could sense a friendliness about the area... or maybe it was simply that people weren't giving us dirty looks for toting our kids with us.  I have to say, on this particular trip, our kids would not get a "best behavior" award by any means.  In their defense, both had colds/sinus infections; and the weather was less than pleasant.  But still, we had to deal with a number of tantrums and melt downs.  Of course our good friends (who don't have kids... yet!) were with us, and NUMEROUS times our kids embarrassed us in front of them.  I read somewhere that parents shouldn't be embarrassed by their kids' behavior because everyone knows kids are going to misbehave and push the limits; instead we should be embarrassed at how WE, the parents, respond to our children's misbehavior- or if we don't address their behavior at all.  It's our jobs as parents to teach our kids proper behavior... and some days we have to do A LOT of teaching and redirecting.

Despite our kids' less than desirable behavior, we didn't get dirty looks or evil stares, like we have in other cities.  We felt accepted and nobody seemed to mind if/when someone made a scene.  (See the picture below of the aftermath when Dylan decided to splash in a fountain at the Parliament and completely soaked through all of his clothes...We had to put him in his extra pair of pants and my jacket because I didn't have an extra shirt for him. Or letting the boys use technology to get through dinner, also not a favorite solution, but some days are "survival days").  People weren't phased by their behavior, in fact, they were FRIENDLY with our kids!!  At one point as we were walking on the street a homeless lady came up to us and started to "baby talk" with Christopher, making him smile.  We felt that our kids were accepted to be what they are.. kids!  And we felt no stuffy judgement from anyone.

3. Danube River
I think the next time we go to Budapest, I want to arrive by boat.  The Danube River separates Buda from Pest and both sections are gorgeous to see from the water.  We were able to take a few photos along the Chain bridge looking from both directions and it really is breath-taking.  I think one of my favorite experiences, as we walked along the shores of the Danube, was coming upon the "shoes of the Danube bank" Memorial.  Basically they have a bunch of empty shoes made out of brass that are lined up facing the river.  Each shoe represents the people who, during WWII, were ordered to to take of their shoes and stand along the river and then were innocently executed by the Nazis.  It was such a moving memorial to see and you could feel the somber atmosphere all around as we walked along.

4. Millennial
I was talking to a guy who takes my spin class at our local YMCA and was also in Budapest the same time as me (small world!)  We were talking about what an amazing city it is and "millennial" is the word he used to describe it.  I couldn't put my finger on the right word to describe it before then, but when he said it, I knew exactly what he meant!  Budapest is so not stuffy.  People are chill and easy going, but also upbeat, receptive, confident and self-expressive.  I loved walking along the Danube River and seeing groups of people hanging out along the banks telling stories and laughing.  Everyone seemed so laid back and cool!!

We didn't get to experience their night life (ahem, our kids!), but our friends Christina and Adrian did and I'm not going to lie, we were a little jealous we missed the whole experience!!!  So apparently Budapest is known for "ruin pubs" and here's what my friend Christina says about them: "Ruin pubs are mostly in the old District VII neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores, or lots. This neighborhood was left to decay after World War II, so it was a super place to develop an underground (not so underground anymore) bar scene."  It looked suuuuper cool... there's nothing like drinking a beer in an abandoned building with a bunch of junk yard furniture... okay, maybe I didn't describe that right, lol!  But it is different and unique to Budapest and it would have been really cool to experience a nightlife scene that is so different from what we are used to.

5. Size
One thing we really appreciated about Budapest was the size.  I think because it is a fairly big city, things are spread out enough that it doesn't seem touristy at all!  There is so much to explore and you never get the pushy vendor feel like you do in some cities.  Also, since it isn't packed with tourists, it feels like a regular living and breathing city with locals simply going about their every day business.  We LOVE being immersed in the culture of a city and not feeling  like everyone is an outsider.
Also, it's not like a sprawling city with huge sky scrapers... it's spread out with beautiful architecture.

Although this is just a small list of reasons why I loved Budapest; I could probably add five more points... it's THAT amazing!  And I didn't even mention: the public baths, open markets, STREET food, etc.  There is so much Budapest has to offer and it is ranking up there as one of my favorite cities.  We will definitely be back! 


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