Budapest ain’t like the rest — of them European capitals.

Posted on June 14, 2014

G@H: Budapest

We haven’t been everywhere in the world. But, we have collected a few stamps on the old passport. Budapest ranks high on G@H’s Favorite Cities list. Here’s why.

1. Buda Castle

As children, we daydreamed about repelling invaders from a castle fortress. That vision became reality on a January day in Budapest. Buda Castle, a World Heritage Site and the Royal Palace, hosted the most epic of snowball fights. We, four adult men, bombarded a mob of Hungarian children milling about below the citadel walls. Admittedly, ours was a preventive maneuver. But, these little delinquents surely meant ill.

Winter, summer, spring or autumn, visit Buda Castle. Beware of tour guides with walrus mustaches, though. One approached us pitching his service. When we politely declined, he called us “idiot American monkeys.” He was both rude and probably correct.

G@HL Buda Castle

2. St. Stephan of Hungary

Europe has something America sorely lacks: national heroes who are also saints. Thomas Jefferson. A visionary democrat. George Patton. A brilliant solider. Martin Luther King. A courageous leader. But, canonized? Not a damn one.

St. Stephan, the Holy King, founded the state which is modern day Hungary and serves as its patron saint. Throughout Budapest, you’ll find statutes of him. The city’s magnificent cathedral bears his name. And, there’s this golden box, and if you insert a coin into this box, it lights up, illuminating St. Stephan’s fully intact mummified right hand. Seriously.

G@H: St. Stephan of Hungary

3. Paprikash

You won’t hear critics across the globe heralding Hungarian food. The cuisine is substantially similar to that of its Eastern European neighbors. But, Hungarians, they work magic with noodles and gravy. It’s the ultimate comfort food and gets you through the long, cruel winter. One evening, we fell hard for a plateful of paprikash. We think of that night often and fondly.

Sadly, memories are all we have because we neglected to take a photo.

4. The Hungarian Parliament

Hungarians have a badass parliament building. The Országház stands as Budapest’s tallest building. It sits on the bank of the Danube River. It houses the Hungarian Royal Crown Jewels. And, ingeniously, it’s invincible to blimp attacks, which for a short stint could’ve been a thing.

G@H: The Hungarian Parliament

5. Outdoor Bathing

You must take a dip in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Dating from 1913, this magnificent complex contains 18 pools (15 spring-fed) and ranks as Europe’s largest public bath. Sure, you’ll see plump aging men with ample body hair in speedos. But, a little unsightliness is worth this unique experience.

G@H: Széchenyi Thermal Bath

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