Crossing over the border into Hungary was somewhat noticeable, style and housing it’s clear there are poorer pockets here. And by poor there are some really run down homes. Driving through Austria from Salzburg towards Vienna and everything inbetween there was only one service station that provided LPG, astonished as Germany had a pretty good record of finding one. Into Hungary however LPG is a given and the first station to pull into had it, assisted by a friendly local worker he could not stop staring at the Green Machine with amazement, with little English he spoke he very much appreciated our vehicle. Proudly showing us his classic, pointing to an old school Lada it was a nifty piece of work with racing stickers all over it and classic faded beige colour it is his pride and joy. So upon questions asked we wanted to know how easy LPG is to get in Hungary and eastern Europe and apparently very easy, they say they can’t get their head around why Austria does not have enough pumps. Important for our long distance travelling. LPG cost us roughly around a full tank 25€, which is a bargain runs well and usually 300 odd km’s we cover. Not so great on the hills as fuel has more guts in it to get us over.
Anyway, heading towards Budapest there’s a site with free parking and campervans usually go there, driving through outskirts of Budapest there are area’s where you think you are in a Soviet country. But here’s the thing everyone is dressed well and wearing the latest fashion attire, top of the range cars seen driving around it feels strange to mix the scene with the buildings on show. There is absolutely no care or pride of the state of their homes, apartments, be it shops the whole lot. You can have one home that is immaculate next to a completely worn box and no one cares. Now the driving is somewhat interesting and the roads I would say not easy to read, turn offs, merging and railway tracks and complete oppisite to give way rules where you are given way when they are on certain main roads. People being quite bullish when it comes to stops, when trains are coming and high chances of being caught on the tracks.
We arrive in the middle of nowhere with some pretty worn roads and on lookers of what the hell is that! We come to a secured carpark with another campervan parked inside looking somewhat confused as we are also about to find out. An old man who speaks only Hungarian hands over a piece of paper in perfect English of a campsite near by, but why is this? We came here because it’s free and so did the next door campervan. A campsite generally charging full price and the name of it sounding very familiar. Arena Campsite the only one open this time of year and its become quite apparent that the owner has come here offering money or a % to move people onto their campsite, and as we found out nearly 80% of the campervans that were at this campsite had this piece of paper on their dashboard. Shifty stuff! Asking the lady in charge in reception showing her the site in our Bord Atlas why this site is not available to use her response being “thats an old picture!” …. I know when I’m being bullshitted and that was this moment. Unfortunately this time dipping into our pockets was the only option as the other guy would never leave us alone. Settle in and the following day would see us catching the sights of Budapest.
Midday and we set of walking down the street to find a metro station, we are on our way across the river Danube on the old side of Budapest which originally was called Buda and the other side of the river being Pest. Sun beaming it was a pearler of a day to see the sights, and walking to the river the main building which spectacularly stood out was the Parliament building, white with countless spires shooting upwards it is an impressive building. We make our way up the well known Castle Hill that has several historic buildings up there, first one to come across was the Matthias church which was originally built in the middle ages, surrounding that is the Fishermans Bastion that was built between 1885 and 1902 which offer breathtaking views over the city. Restaurants also adorning on the inside making most of tourists who wish to eat and drink with the veiws on offer.
Walking around this entire hilltop there are some stunning peices of architecture as the photo’s will show.
Heading towards the other end of the hill where the Budapest history museum sits just before that are some old roman ruins with the Royal palace. From here we walk down and across the river on the well known Chain Bridge to which the other side of town (Pest side) is showing even more glamorous buildings, we approach St Stephen’s Basilica and this was a mammoth building. Making our way in it winds around so you don’t see what your about to find, one word mesmerizing. What sculptures, art, amphitheatre and overwhelming feel of being inside this huge Basilica was unbelievable and constant look back and forwards between me and Karen just in awe of the design.
Walking from here stomachs growling we have our hungry looks and keep an eye out for bakerys and pubs or both combined, at the time sounded ideal but in reality not actually an option. But we do find a primo cafe where beer and wine were provided and some much needed tucker. Pancakes! Hungary are known for pancakes and these things were beastly! I odered a bounty flavoured pancakes which is chocolate hazelnut with coconut cream rolled in pancake, and Karen ordering apple and cinnamon pancakes. What a task it was to eat, this European experiance of eating will never get boring. We make our way with bloated guts to the Parliament building for a closer look and encounter more stunning architecture.
But enough of that! We are also here for the beer and the night scene at the ruin pubs which is on the well known Kazinczy street, pubs pubs and pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants it was quite an area in a well… run down buildings district, it was very cool. We find the ruins pub we want to drink at and it’s called the Szimpla. This was Budapest first ruin pub, and to describe to the NZ audience of Christchurch it is basically a Smash palace but ten times better! It had such an arty crafty alternative feel, with uneven ground concrete and brick bashed to ruin it was a well utilized space hand crafted and old furniture nothing was surplus to requirements, and very popular with all groups and age. Hungarian craft beer and local wine had it was a pretty cool spot and one I wished Christchurch did more of with its capabilities than building mundane smart or snobby looking bars. Make use of what you have and what you got is the motto here with underground vaults also being used for restaurants even having that damp underground smell it was used regardless. Dinner time was near and we ask a local what is the best place for a local Hungarian feed, we trodge on down to a place that served monstrosity sized meals ordering pork schnitzel filled with cheese and paprika sasuage and the other pork schnitzel having cheese and onion on top. Also forgot to mention paprika is a well known spice for locals. Generous servings and price for things here being super cheap its a great city to explore, thoroughly enjoyed the experiance.
One last night in Hungary in a small city south called Szeged we freedom camped alongside a park next to the river, here we refresh and get prepared to crossing the border into Romania, the unknown and simply something I’ve been looking forward to most out of all the country’s thus far for it’s mystery and stereotypes of the people and the region. You get noses turned up when you mention this such country, and I’m sure we are to find something really amazing.
So far clocking up 4,312 miles across Europe thats 6,939.5 km sitting in Romania, quite a Sunday drive that!
That concludes our time in Hungary