I am a massive fan of Budapest, having travelled there once before, I have a very soft spot for the city known for its hot baths, ruin bars, culinary scene and of course its fascinating history.
Little did I know, that about 130 kilometres away was a picture perfect Lake centred in the middle of Hungary called Balaton, in which I’m advised, has been a popular destination for holiday makers over Europe to frequent this hot spot during the summer months.
It is also host to a music festival every July that runs for 5 days called Balaton Sound which I will be talking a lot of on the second part of this post. On top of this, Budapest also have a festival of their own which is held on 108 hectare island in the middle of the river called Sziget. This runs for slightly longer and is one of the biggest festivals in Europe so if you’re looking to go overseas, this would be my top preference.
With all these facts in mind, it seemed crazy to pass on such an amazing location and at such a reasonable price. You see the decision was between that and Glasto and after weighing up the options, all arrows were pointing to a European festival excursion. A holiday and a festival in one is definitely the way forward and who can trust the English weather anyway.
I decided to go all out and book myself in business class (Club Europe class) on a BA flight and because I was doing this journey alone, I thought, why the hell not. The BA lounge at Heathrow was stock standard. It didn’t wow me but it was equipped with all the essentials. Examples would be the house wines, beer and spirits, newspapers to magazines and light food to keep your appetite at bay.
On the plane, it was a totally different story. Most people will say it is a waste of time travelling business class on a short haul flight but on this occasion I would strongly oppose plus its always nice to go all out, especially if you are going to do it as a solo ranger.
I had a very welcoming air hostess who bought me a few too many bottles of French champagne (yes this is another reason to upgrade) and her exceptional service really shone through. I can always tell when people are being genuine and truly love what they do – its just so obvious in my opinion. The food was also an improvement and so much of it this time around. I had a selection of fish with vegetables, cheese and chutneys, dessert with crackers and a fresh selection of bread rolls. Had to say, I was not expecting to be fed so much and with the extra champagne to take away in my bag, I was one happy little customer!!
Once I had arrived in Budapest, it was baking hot so the quickest option to get across town was to catch an Uber over to my Airbnb apartment which was located right in the heart of the city. I had friends (who had already arrived) eagerly waiting for me so we could all go and hit a few of the famous ruin bars that this city is widely known for.
One of my favourites is Szimpla Kert which is head to toe in vintage decor, has its own garden, market and live music. Inside it was completely rammed and although there was no music being pumped, the atmosphere certainly made up for it.
As did the wacky decor.
The following day it did take a little while to spring out of bed but who needs to get up early when you’re on holiday. Not this one! Since I had already been to Budapest before, I was pretty relaxed on the sightseeing part and really only interested in finding places to eat and cocktails to drink (only being upfront here!). Besides, we were in a prime spot within walking distance to a gazillion and one places so the choice was absolutely endless!
There was one bar in particular that I had been recommended to visit which was called the 360 bar and boy these views well and truly lived up to the name. Although I was trying not to melt from the heat, it didn’t stop me from sitting directly in the sun and then opting for some shelter a little later on in the day.
My friends Jon and Charlotte also joined me for what seemed like a well deserved relaxing afternoon, basking in the sunshine while sipping on wine and fruity cocktails. The ultimate spot that provides views for days and a place you must go if you love to be snap happy.
That evening I wanted to roam around the cobbled streets and find a low key restaurant serving Hungarian wine and some tasty traditional schnitzel. The Red bistro had just that including welcome shots and some interesting murals on view! I was super keen to check out at least one more ruin bar before calling it a night and after wandering around we stumbled across a place called Kuplung which was a former repair shop – completely random I know, but the popularity of these bars is astounding. You are doing well to get a seat or even a table for that matter….and what I absolutely dig about this place as you can be walking for hours around these historical little streets and you wont even feel like you are lost in the slightest!
Early Wednesday morning, we decided to mission it across to one of the most delightful breakfast spots in Budapest called Villa Bagatelle. They have a bakery which is located on the ground floor and you have the option of eating in the lush garden or the restaurant which they have upstairs. A bit of an obscure location however a tremendous way to kick off a very invigorating day, travelling over to the Lake and experiencing a 5 day European festival. Oh yes oh yes.
Although this time around it was a brief ‘in and out’ trip ‘, my love for Budapest never changes. A city that is straight forward, unique and so cosmopolitan – it always keeps me coming back for more!