Toss your Travel Tips: The Budapest Files

Don’t you love when a city surprises you?

On planes, in hostels, randomly on the street.. People love to give you advice about the places they’ve been. I whip out my pen and ever-handy notebook to jot down their suggestions for cities I know I’ll be visiting in the near future. And then, when I’m finally headed to that city, I go back, revisit and research their tips.

Just kidding.

I never look at them again.

It’s an appealing thought though– to take some insider knowledge and use it to enhance your visit. But the truth is, I actively avoid researching places before I go. I like the surprise, the non-bias introduction, the totally blind first date with a city I only know through a mutual friend.

But my preconceived notions always come bouncing out of the nooks and crannies of my mind and form expectations I didn’t even realize I had. It’s as though I have a little ‘Budapest’ folder in my brain where I store every picture I’ve ever seen, story I’ve heard, article I’ve read, fact I’ve learned, tidbit I’ve noted.. they all get filed away in this folder and combine into a supposition (whether I like to admit I have it or not).

My file for Budapest went something like this:

  • Eastern European
  • Big City
  • It used to be Soviet, right?
  • Danube River
  • Heard Good Things
  • That George Ezra song..

…that’s about it.

Not surprisingly (considering I pretty much thought of it as a cool, big, Eastern European city with a river) I associated it with the only other Eastern, riverside city I’d been to. Prague.

And I’m glad I did.

Because my biggest surprise with Budapest was how entirely different they are. If Prague is dark and buzzing, Budapest is light and leisurely. Prague hides behind a poker face while Budapest lays all its cards on the table.

Budapest isn’t what you expect.

But everything else I’ll let you find out for yourself.


12 thoughts on “Toss your Travel Tips: The Budapest Files

  1. Love the contrasting descriptions of Prague and Budapest. We two old fogies did Budapest for a week then Prague for a week and boy oh boy was it wrong way round! A better piece of research would have discovered “don’t visit Prague on a weekend unless you want to queue up to cross the Charles Bridge, or find most bars are full of drunken revellers on Stag/Hen parties ….. all day, or to have to sidestep the vomit on your early morning walk. Budapest, brilliant though!

    Liked by 1 person

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