Hung(a)ry For a Break

I’m sorry for that terrible pun, but I had to do it.

So as you probably guessed from my not-so-subtle title, I went to Hungary last week. Much like reading break at UVic, the University of East Anglia (where I’m on exchange) has a break mid semester called “Do Something Different Week.”

The university puts on workshops and events that you can sign up for and try something new, whether academic or otherwise. But to be honest, it ends up just being a week where most students either take a quick holiday, or just stay in bed for a full week.

Because we are only here for a year, my flatmate and I decided to use this time to do a little travelling. We decided on Budapest because neither of us knew much about the city, or country for that matter (and also because the flights were super cheap, like £30 round trip).

We booked our flight through Ryanair, which is a really popular airline, especially for students, because they have really great deals for U.K./mainland Europe flights.  The other airline that a lot of people use is easyJet.

Being that it was our first time in Hungary, we learned a lot, both about Budapest itself, and the culture of the city. So here are some of the things that I discovered that may help you if you ever decide to visit!

  1. Though Hungary is in the European Union, their main currency is not the Euro, it’s the Forint, and one Canadian dollar is equal to about 220 Hungarian Forints. That means that while it may be totally normal to pay 2,000 Forints for a meal, you may still have a little panic attack when the bill comes around.
  2. In Budapest you don’t buy a bus ticket from the driver. Instead there are little ATM-looking machines all around the city where you can get one. However, most people don’t even bother with the tickets; everyone just gets on without one and nobody checks.
  3. Most stores are closed on Mondays. This won’t be true for major restaurants or tourist areas, however if you are looking for something a little more cultural or local, I would suggest planning to go on a different day.
  4. No tips. When you go to pay for a meal in Budapest, the card machines don’t give you an option to give a tip. Some people may still leave something in cash on the table, but it is not expected like it is in North America.
  5. Even though Hungarian is the official language, most people you meet speak English.

These photos are mainly from St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Szechenyi Baths, and the Fine Art Museum near Heroes Square.

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