The austro-hungarian empire
We arrived in Budapest (pronounced buda-pesht) this afternoon via train to a pretty station in an uneventful location. The metro system is one of the oldest next to london but is quite efficient. The cabs here are good hustlers, we started out at a price of 30 euros and used our indian skills to haggle down to 10. Interestingly, they mostly use local currency here even thoug hungry is part of the EU. You can get by with euros in main attractions, restaurants, and some cabs. Also, language is a bit challenging relative to the other stops we have made thus far.
We took a spin of the city to get our bearings today and we think Budapest may now be one of the prettiest European cities we have seen. Combining Austria and hungary works out perfect since the history overlaps so well. So many of the monuments, churches, bridges, etc are named after the Austrian/ hapsburg emperors. The city is split by the danube, with buda on one side ( rolling hills, historical palaces, etc) and pest which is flat and more commercial, having been developed more recently than buda. The Danube is much larger than I ever knew, running through 8 countries! Budapest has a population of 2 million, is split into 2 by the Danube, has 2 islands in the middle, and a history over 2000 years old (a lot of 2's).
We took a boat ride on the Danube at night and saw the city light up further. The architecture is so eclectic and so different in some ways from western europe. It's even more stunning at night!
Our hotels ac stopped working so we have relocated to a nicer hotel of theirs that is more central- so it ended up working in our favor. We are only a few blocks from the danube on the buda side.
Tomorrow we plan to visit the castle, the house of terror (should be interesting), the jewish quarters, etc.