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Budapest in May - any suggestions or tips?

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    Budapest in May - any suggestions or tips?

    Hi all,

    I just booked may plane tickets for vacation!! (Am I the only one who has heart palpitations for an hour after paying for airfare?) I will be in Budapest for 5 and a half days in mid-May. From there I will be flying to Rome for just a few days to meet up with my cousin who will be on study abroad.

    I've been to Rome before (granted over a decade ago, and my Italian is beyond rusty), but not to Budapest. I'll be on my own in Budapest, but have travelled relatively widely on my own in the past (Europe, South America, Caribbean). I'm guessing the regular caveats for solo travel in a big city apply. Anything else?

    The Szechenyi Baths are on my list for sure, but I haven't gotten much farther than that in planning. I know I'm not going to be there for long, but any day trips that are a must-see while in the area? Wine tasting??

    I'm going to book an apartment in Budapest so I can do some of my own cooking, because I love visiting local markets, and I'm a vegetarian. That said, restaurant recommendations are welcome.

    My flight from Budapest to Rome is on Ryanair. I think I have a good handle on them from reading up on them on FlyerTalk and here, but if there's anything you think I should be particularly aware of, let me know.

    Not sure what I'll do in Rome--I am kind of deferring to my cousin since she's never been there before. I would love to see the catacombs again, but I hit all the big stuff last time, so I'm looking more for off the beaten track stuff this time around. Accommodations are going to be my biggest challenge I think, because of the time of year.

    Finally, help me justify an A30 for this trip, hahaha. I have an A45 which I may bring, but it won't be full by any stretch. I did 9 days in Buenos Aires last year in my S25 so that's my other option. Really, either would work great, but I love the A30.

    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.” ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    I have your same bag combo, but both smaller siblings (S19 and A30).

    As you perfectly know, both are organizational beasts. Having done 9 days with the S25, you could definitely match for this upcoming trip, BUT, the packing style of the Aeronaut is much more efficient for such trips IMO. I had a hard time debating between A30/45, but ultimately leaned A30 knowing that it can handle weeks of travel, and in the event that it would't be able to handle a lengthy trip, it can always work in combination with another bag (like a Synapse). I love both my bags and can tell you just need a pushing to plunge for an A30. Truth is, it's harder to justify with already owning an A45. One thing I can say is that carrying your A30 onto Ryanair will definitely be more fun than an A45. Just go for it! A30 so sexy. Hope that helps. Haven't been to Budapest--sounds like a great trip, enjoy!


      I went to Budapest in 2011 -- LOVED it. I spent a few days there on my own, and was then joined by family. The goal of our trip was to research our own family history there, and we found quite a lot (including gravestones and memorials), but we also did plenty of sightseeing. We found the city very accessible by public transportation. We rented a van at one point and went out to Eger, where we had rented two apartments over a cafe and had a fabulous time. I highly recommend Eger, but given your timeframe, perhaps you should pick one side trip that is do-able in a day. At the end of the vacation, when I was once again on my own in Budapest, and conducting more genealogic research, I manged to make it to a few nearby towns using public buses and trains. I really enjoyed the side trips and the view of the scenery: farms and villages.

      A tour to orient yourself when you first arrive is always helpful. I did a short city tour -- sorry I can't remember the name, but you'll probably find that they are all similar.

      Overall people were super-nice and helpful. However, inside Budapest, there are the usual urban annoyances. You will find some people asking for money, particularly around the subway entrances. It's particularly sad that they will often have very small children in tow. Well, I don't want to get political. Give or don't give, but if you prefer not to be approached, it is best to know your route ahead of time and not linger over the large maps in the station, or to give a firm 'no' if you want to end a conversation. Take the usual precautions against pickpockets, and as has been suggested elsewhere on this forum recently, keep the cash you want to have readily available away from your wallet, which should be secreted inside your bag.

      At no time did I feel unsafe though, and 99% of the people I met were great, and went out of their way to offer directions. I enjoyed a few terrific conversations with people on the inter-city buses. Not everyone spoke English, but it wasn't usually that hard to find someone who did. Learning a few dozen words in Hungarian is helpful.

      The food was generally good, though rich. We didn't really get away from the tourist areas much, even in Eger, so it's hard to know if we ate like the locals do. I had lots of goulash and good red wine. There is a regional desert there, called soimloi. I tried it three times, and each time it was prepared quite differently, and was always delicious. There is also a local drink called palinka. My aunt, who is a good drinker, called it "liquid fire". Beware! There's a culture of outdoor eating, which was very nice. If it is evening and getting cool outside, the restaurants or cafes often provide blankets.

      The A30 is totally justifiable, if your budget allows. I didn't have it at that time, of course, but have since used one for traveling through the Middle East. More compact and easier to navigate with than the A45, particularly if you are a smaller person, and/or using public transportation.
      All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
      Edmund Burke


        Thanks for the great info and suggestions! I think I'll be hitting the order button on the A30... and a Spiff Kit, because who can order just one bag at a time?

        @bchaplin, palinka sounds just like the Lithuanian samane I had when I visited there a couple years ago It's so cool that you got to do family history research in situ like that. I didn't have time for it while I was in Lithuania the first time, but if I ever get to go back I want to see where my great-grandfather came from and find out more about his family.
        "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.” ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette


          If you like classical music I highly recommend checking out opera or symphony concerts in Budapest. The tickets are a real bargain compared to other cities in Europe. Also there is a park outside of the city where they put all the old Communist statues. You have to take a bus or taxi to get there but it's fun to see them.

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