16 things foreigners say about Budapest
Szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu compiled a list of reasons why foreigners hate or love the capital city of Hungary. See these 16 points to gain an insight into the life in Budapest from the perspective of people coming from abroad.
The site reports that they have been collecting the opinions of their acquaintances, friends and former colleagues from abroad regarding Budapest. Also, when making the list they bore in mind what was written on different forums about living here or just visiting the city. Of course, both positive and negative remarks could be found within the lines, thus, the writers chose to include the most common or salient opinions in their list.
- Interesting combination of river, mountain and plain
The geographical location of Budapest is regarded exceptional by many people. They further highlighted that from lots of places the view of the city is mesmerizing.
- Exciting look
Visitors often cannot really tell what makes them so fond of the city, they just feel so. Some of them sees Budapest similar to Vienna, others are reminded of German cities, but Paris also came up as a potential association. Weird it might seem at first, but not a coincidence, as John Lukacs wrote, in his book called Budapest, 1900.
Also, in 1901 Americans visited the Hungarian capital as part of their project to establish Washington according to the (then) contemporary patterns and trends. Hence, a committee was sent to Europe by the US government to examine the six most important cities of our continent, including Budapest. Joseph Stübben, architect also wrote about Budapest aside Paris, Vienna, New York and London. At that time the design of Nagykörűt (Grand Boulevard), the construction of the Andrássy Avenue, later the Városliget and several other changes carried out in the city were considered novelties.
- Old buildings, houses with courtyards and the castles of Nagykörút are appreciated
At this point the author mentions how an American friend of theirs was surprised when it turned out that, in the old staircases of certain buildings, the lifts do not only look as if they were from the 19th century, but they are indeed from that time.
- Lots of statues
Foreigners find it amazing that Budapest is full of statues. Many wonder about how and why the statues were set up at their locations or what they represent. People from Northern Italy – especially the elder ones – are somewhat familiar with the history of Hungary, the events of 1956 are not completely unknown for them.
Therefore, they are interested to hear about the stories of the Imre Nagy Statue (politician, significant figure at the time of the 1956 Revolution) or the World War monument on Liberty Square. Besides, they found the Little Princess Statue of Duna-korzó funny and lovely, just like the gendarme near the Basilica.
- Finding a parking lot is difficult
Even though it is a pleasant activity to walk around in the city and go on sightseeing, those travelling by car get into a challenge when looking for a place to park their cars. Also, parking itself presents some troubles for people, as the system is sometimes rather confusing.
- The phenomena of metros
All in all foreigners regard metros interesting, however, metro line M3 is considered quite surreal and run down. Many suggested it is like time-travelling when using the obsolete, often repaired Soviet subway cars of the “blue metro line”. Though, metro line M4 and especially its Gellért Square station was called stunning by an Italian friend of the authors, while Americans found M1 cute.
- The night lines of public transport
Further remarks on transportation were given in connection with the night buses and the non-stop available trams, as abroad these are quite unknown, people either take a taxi home after a party or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
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- Graffiti all over the city
Some might consider graffiti as art, but Szeretlekmagyarország writes that foreigners think that these paints are awful and the tags on the fences, buildings and whatnot give the impression of a messy place and are ugly to look at.
- The unpleasant case of dog poop in the streets
It looks disgusting and people find it obnoxious to keep on watching the pavements all the time in order to avoid stepping on something they would rather not. Especially in the summer, when the smell is stronger, they find this situation disappointing.
- Hungarians do not trust strangers
Corrie Reeves, a student who spent a year in Budapest thanks to an exchange programme, suggested that everyone should visit Budapest, for Hungary is wonderful, however, she wrote that Hungarians find it really hard to trust strangers: they do not greet nor smile at people they do not know.
Another comment in the topic highlighted that Hungarians should overcome the constant complaining and self-pity (regarding their history). Besides, it was mentioned that Hungarians use lots of swear words in their everyday discussions.
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- Rude shop assistants and waiters
A number of foreigners complained about being treated in a rude way in shops, restaurants, hotels and other places where they paid for a service. Understandably, it felt bad for them when someone was odious with them without actually knowing them or having a reason for such bad manners. Also, they felt uncomfortable when the service providers completely lacked helpfulness.
Even if they do not understand what some people might mutter in Hungarian, foreigners do realize what these people may think about them, based on their gestures, ways of speaking, facial expressions, looks and the way they treat them. This unkind behaviour affects the way tourists see Budapest negatively, one of them would definitely hesitate in deciding to travel to Budapest again.
- The amazing baths
However, those who do travel to Budapest make sure to visit its baths, as people of every age and nationality find some joy and interest in the bath culture of the city. One of the favourites is Széchenyi bath which is often photographed: the elder gentlemen playing chess and the outdoor pool available even in the winter boost the enthusiasm of photographers and visitors.
In the Buda side the most well-known baths are the Gellért and Rudas, while people of the younger generation who are more adventurous would go mainly to the Lukács or Király baths, writes szeretlekmagyarorszag.
- The markets
The Great Market Hall of Vámház krt. is an especial favourite of tourists, many became familiar with the place thanks to foreign press, thematic tourist lists or sites. Those who live in Buda know more the market in Fény Street or the antique market of Gozsdu. Others, who are more experienced in living in Budapest, would even go to the Lehel market.
- Great foods
Gastronomy in Hungary is utterly appreciated by foreigners, for example, the Király Street and its surroundings are constantly full of tourists, who enjoy having a wide range of choices regarding food. They can find dishes from international cuisine and the standard Chinese and Turkish places are present in Budapest too.
But if they are curious and willing to try out the specialties and traditional foods of the Hungarian cuisine they just as well may do so. And more and more people from abroad becomes interested in the traditional Hungarian dishes, including those made of pork (called “disznótoros”) and other similar foods.
- The Opera house
People from the US and Italy praised the performances of the Hungarian State Opera House. For foreigners it is a huge experience to go to the opera, to theatres or concerts while they are in Budapest, especially because, in their home countries, they would not be able to afford such forms of entertainment.
A couple of years ago, in an interview, Silvia Bartoli, Italian opera singer lauded the Opera House, for its acoustics are excellent while the sounding is not as sterile as in many other famous opera houses of the world.
- The beloved ruin bars
The phenomenon of ruin bars seems to be unstoppable as people cannot stop loving these places. Nor do they want to: it looks as though they can never get bored of ruin bars and luckily for them in Budapest they may easily find some.
Photos: pixabay.com; Christo(commons.wikimedia); facebook.com/GraffitiBudapest; pixabay.com; facebook.com/belvarosidisznotoros; facebook.com/Operahaz; facebook.com/szimplakert
Copy editor: bm