Budapest. City of vibrancy. Of energetic beauty. Of contrast. Simultaneously emphasising ruins and ruin pubs while embracing modern shopping malls and soaring glass structures. Caught between a history of East and West, “invaded by everyone,” influenced by the Turks, the Romans, the Austrians and more, Hungary’s a country bordered by seven others, yet the language spoken is similar to none of them. Instead, Hungarian is linked to Japanese and to Finnish. And the Hungarians reflect this diverse mix. They are cosmopolitan, both proud of their uniqueness and open to a changing continent around them.
I am here on my Ultimate Triptrotting Summer Experience. Triptrotting is all about connecting travellers with locals and then providing both with authentic experiences and opportunities to make new friends. And a few weeks ago, I was chosen from among 300 others as the Ultimate Triptrotter, spending several weeks in Europe putting the Triptrotting network of travellers and hosts to the test.
Well, my journey has begun and, after three days in Budapest, my last day was filled with incredible adventures with my new local friend, Livia. She is founder and guide of Budapest Urban Adventures and she treated me to one of the most informative and engaging afternoons of my life. First we explored the famous Hungarian thermal baths, which, “touristy me” thought I was going to enjoy… so I brought my swimsuit and flip flops. It turned out that we only got to look at them without getting in the bath, but I still loved the tour, as I got to learn a lot about the culture and the history of Budapest, including how the thermal baths came to Hungary.
After that Livia took me to the fantastic views of Budapest from hills overlooking the Danube. I would have probably never gotten there without her! Regular tour guides usually stick to the tour itinerary and just show you around famous places, but Livia went above and beyond what I expected. Truly, a crash course in Budapest history and culture!