Forget London. In summer, you’ll bump into 90 per cent of all the people you wanted to leave behind. Forget Paris, it’s expensive. Just book a ticket to Budapest. Here’s why.
1. You can wallow in a public bath
Tell me I can spend the day jumping between 15 indoor and outdoor pools, each one completely temperature controlled, and watch me give in to my inner wallowing buffalo.
The baths have saunas, steam rooms and all other luxury spa accessories, but nowhere else have I seen such lavish architecture.
Among the many treatments on offer, I chose the red wine bath, but I suspect I drank more red wine than they ever could have filled in my tub. At least that’s what I think, because truthfully, I don’t remember.
2. You can take a free walking tour (or three)
Different companies offer guided walking tours, and they’re all free!
Each offers you a glimpse of hidden treasures as you visit neighbourhoods most tourists ignore, giving you the real flavour of Hungary. I said ‘flavour’ because a walking tour can also give you some serious culinary adventures. If you visit, please eat halaszle, a spicy, paprika-based fish soup that is pure magic.
3. You can wear your underwear over your jeans
Nightclubs in Budapest rock. The latest in the city was called ‘Ruin pub culture’. ‘Ruin’ pubs are in buildings that are in ruins. I went to Szimpla Kert, where there was a superhero-themed pub crawl. I wore Versace undies over my jeans, and a stole like a cloak. Thus was born a new superhero – Versace Man!
4. Learn to say ‘gyonyoru vagy’ (but prepare to hear ‘szunj meg’)
Eastern European girls are stunning! But don’t be a douchebag. Be at your charming best. Learn the basic phrase ‘gyonyoru vagy’ which means ‘you’re gorgeous’. But do prepare to hear ‘hagyj beken’ (‘leave me alone’) and ‘szunj meg’ (‘get lost’).
I used ‘gyonyoru vagy’ just once during the pub crawl, and was told, ‘vicces vagy’ (‘you’re funny’). I don’t know if that was because of my face or my Versace Man outfit. Either way, it was fun.
5. You can spend money like it’s going out of style
One Hungarian forint is 0.24 rupees: for the first time, you’ll feel great about Indian currency.
The writer is a model and an actor.
From HT Brunch, July 3, 2016
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