The sum of Budapest is greater than its parts

The cities of Buda and Pest combined in 1873 into the new capital of Hungary. A broad swathe of the river Danube runs between the cities and was not permanently

The cities of Buda and Pest combined in 1873 into the new capital of Hungary. A broad swathe of the river Danube runs between the cities and was not permanently bridged until 1849. Now seven bridges cross the river connecting the various districts and make it much easier for the Nightfly to get about.

Don’t try to get away from history…

It is impossible to get away from the past in Budapest; the city is still recovering from its most recent episode which is still fresh. But if you let yourself go, and enjoy it, you’ll find the past has lots to offer and provides a bridge to Budapest today.

The Széchenyi chain bridge – this is it, the first bridge and it crosses from Széchenyi Square on the Pest side to Adam Clark Square (he designed it) on the Buda side. The bridge is lit at night and provides great views as well as dropping you off close to the funicular which will take you up to the castle.

Coffee Culture – like Vienna with whom the Hungarians have quite a bit in common coffee culture is a big deal in Budapest. Having been part of the Ottoman Empire for nearly a century and a half doesn’t help either. Specialty coffee shops, with all you can imagine coffee-wise including Turkish coffee, are dotted all over. Wait! Is this Seattle?

The classical music scene – Hungary is big on classical music. Bartók and Kodály stand on the shoulders of Franz Liszt at least culturally if not musically, but there’s always opera in Budapest, and you can always get to a classical concert.

The baths and spas

Budapest has the good luck to be situated on a series of hot spas, which is one of the reasons why the Romans liked it so much. They were keen on their baths. Try the Szechenyi Spa Bath which was built in 1913 and has a pre-war grandeur about it as well as a series of spas, Jacuzzis and water jets. You can feel like someone on the grand tour in the 1800s easily.

The Ruin pubs and bars

These are curiously Hungarian and also an acknowledgment of recent history. The Ruin Bars are literally that – bars which sprung up in ruins and condemned buildings. They were originally there to cater to the new young creative vibe making its way into Pest. Budapest has a thriving high-tech startup industry, and initially, these bars catered to this clientele.

Now they remain edgy. They exist in reclaimed spaces, the décor is graffiti and the walls are nonetoo sturdy. But they are especially Budapest and of course, they light the night sky and provide a place to drink and chat long after the other more formal entertainments.

Budapest has a lot of time to make up for. Between 1945 and 1991 they were a communist country. Now having emerged from under the yoke, the city is making up for what it missed.