Ultimate Adventures: Learning Hungarian and Enjoying Budapest
By: Yolanda Clatworthy
C ya Triptrotters!
(apparently “c ya” means hello in Hungarian! Who would’ve known:)
I am in Budapest. City of vibrancy. Of energetic beauty. Of contrast. Simultaneously emphasizing ruins and ruin pubs while embracing modern shopping malls and soaring glass structures. Caught between a history of East and West, “invaded by everyone,” influenced by the Turks, the Romans, the Austrians, and more. It’s a country bordered by seven others, yet the language spoken is similar to none of them. Instead, Hungarian is linked to Japanese and to Finnish. And the people contained within reflect this diverse mix. They are cosmopolitan, both proud of their uniqueness and open to a changing continent around them.
My stay in Budapest was made into a real treat by the people I met while there. Each and everyone of them made my few short days there something special. Through them, I learned the following local knowledge:
-In Hungarian, the word for “snooze button” and “Dopey the Dwarf” is exactly the same 😛
-You can smoke inside, but not at bus stops
-Slightly counter-intuitive: Hi is “c ya” and bye is “hallo.” 😀
-Hungarian Fashion: No matter how much they deny it, overalls seem to be in–judging by how many people can be seen wearing them.
-The word for grandma means “big mama.” 🙂
And so much more! My time spent with local Triptrotters involved everything from grandmother’s home-cooked Hungarian meals to in-the-know parties to unofficial tours of the city to lessons in Hungarian. I hung out with pro-surfers, Olympic runners, self-made entrepreneurs, local activists, exchange students, UN interns, travel writers, a friend from home, and the best host anyone could ever hope to have–Gabor. Gabor, I’ll keep the praise short to reduce the risk of you being inundated with requests to host, but really you made the weekend something special. Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to show me around!
Suffice it to say I had a fantastic, albeit whirlwind, time in Budapest. My first night was consumed with interviews, speeches, and the TRIPup Budapest Event, where I was lucky enough to meet incredible people from the Budapest Travel community, including authors of Frommer’s guidebooks and Leon Logothetis, who was taking part in the Mongol Rally from London to Mongolia (unfortunately, I just heard that Leon got in a car crash on his way from Budapest to Ukraine, but I am glad that him and his friend are ok! We’ll meet up again in LA:) It was a great night that saw a lot of new recruits hop onto the Triptrotting train! You can read more about TRIPup Budapest here
Saturday was spent exploring the back streets of the city courtesy of Underguide tours, a grassroots initiative that truly aims to reveal the inner workings of Budapest. It was a privilege to be able to discover up-and-coming artists, explore community spaces developed along the Danube, and peek into secretive buildings on quiet streets. Special thanks to Vera, our incredible tour guide and new friend, who made the experience such a special one for us. Which Segways into Sunday (pun very much intended), where I was able to join the F1 Fever by zooming around town on my very own Segway. This was part of a Viator tour, and a great, if somewhat alternative way, to get around!
Finally, on Monday, I spent one of the most informative and engaging afternoons of my life with Livia, both guide and founder of the Budapest Urban Adventures tours. We explored the famous thermal baths as well as taking in fantastic views of Budapest from hills overlooking the Danube. Truly, a crash course in Budapest history and culture! Check out the video below… It tells it all– I HAD A BLAST TRIPTROTTING IN BUDAPEST!
And now I’m on a night train, leaving Budapest way sooner than I would like but excited for the adventures ahead. Behind me are new life-long friends and a city I’ve fallen in love with, but ahead of me lies unknown Warsaw and, more importantly, a comfy Interrail bed for the night.
Good-bye Budapest and Nighty night, everyone!