I travelled to Budapest on a solo adventure back in January of 2015. This wasn’t my first time travelling on my own but it stands out in my mind as I faced both challenges & extreme delight in this city.
After a 4.30am start that morning for my flight I was already a bit groggy by the time I jumped in a taxi at Budapest airport. My taxi driver asked where I was heading & I gave him the name of my hotel. I was finally in Budapest. I had been dreaming about this day & it was finally here!
As we sped off in the direction of the city the driver made small talk. “Is this your first time in the city? How long are you here for? Have you been to Hungary before? Do you speak the language? What will you do whilst you are here?” The usual stuff.
After almost a 1 hour drive we finally arrived at my hotel. He told me the price & I handed over some cash, careful to check these new & unfamiliar notes. He took his time in the front seat, flicking through his own wad of cash & mumbling to himself. I was about to give up on my change & hop out when he said, “You give me wrong notes! You give me two $1000 notes & I need $10000 notes”. I apologised quickly & produced another two of these $10,000 bills as he handed me back the $1000 notes. He popped the trunk, gave me my bag & sped off. I made my way into the hotel to check in. As I got to the hotel reception desk I started to think about this taxi experience & it felt ‘off’. So I decided to count the Hungarian cash I had & see if I was right about my ‘off’ feeling… I was.
To my horror I realised he had scammed me! I had given him four $10,000 bills not just two! He knew I was unfamiliar with this money & this country & he took full advantage of me! I was so upset, so angry and so annoyed at myself for letting this happen!
Let’s skip all the tears & the angry text messages sent to family & friends expressing my frustration. I sat in my hotel room, having seen none of this city & I made a decision.
I decided that this one man did not get to ruin my experience of Budapest.
He did not get to choose how I felt – I did.
I decided that I would love this city, I would go out & enjoy my time here & see the sights.
I had the power. He did not.
I did just that. I went out & explored Budapest & I LOVED IT!
Here are a few of the sights I explored and things I did that I would highly recommend –
1. Buda Castle – Atop a hill & looking just like something from a fairy tale, this is worth a visit.
2. Take a river cruise along the Danube River & relax whilst being mesmerised by the beauty of this city.
3. Chain Bridge – A sight in itself but also worth walking across to snap some good city views.
4. Fisherman’s Bastion. This is a mystical castle like something from a children’s movie. I had a lot of fun exploring this.
5. Parliament Building. Make sure to see this at night time as it lights up in the most beautiful & mysterious way.
6. The thermal baths. If you are there in winter time this will help take the chill off!
7. Margaret Island – This is basically one big beautiful park.
8. Shoes on the bank of the Danube River. I stumbled upon this by pure chance & was overcome with emotion just staring at these empty shoes. I stood for quite some time just staring at them. I will never forget this experience.
9. Take a walk along Danube Promenade and admire the city along the gorgeous river banks.
There are so many wonderful sights to see in Budapest – I scratched the surface, but given more time I would have researched & gone further afield. Jump on Google or grab a Lonely Planet guide to check out the sights prior to arrival. Plan out your days & maximise your use of time.
Tip- Pre-book your airport transfers prior to arrival. I would recommend arranging this through your hotel as they will have a reputable company that they use often.
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