Budapest is the kind of place you might expect some weird things, and you’d be right about that. So much so that some are just a bit too common now, things like escape rooms, beer bike tours etc are now everywhere – what can you do in Budapest and nowhere else?
The Hidden Library
Hiding within the modern city library on Reviczky U/Baross U is the Szabo Ervin Library. Like Russian dolls the original reading rooms have been preserved in the middle of the modern library which itself is housed within the old palace walls. In the Hungarian Baroque style, the rooms functioned as a lot more than reading at the time they were built, and it’s easy to guess the dining room. Feeling like a movie set, these rooms contain plenty of old books, with that rich mahogany smell that you really want, it’s an amazing place to hide away from the hustle of the city, especially as so few people know it exists. Just don’t get lost in the confusing layout of the modern sections. Be aware that the old parts aren’t always open when the central library is, so check the website before heading down.
It’s a tree, which has become an unofficial (but google official) shrine to the late King of Pop. covered in pictures and little notes from fans, there’s even benches there for those who want to spend some time remembering the legend. It’s a moving place, just in a quiet corner of such a busy city park, a true sign of the dedication of some of the fans of the singer. It’s certainly as strange as the man himself and a fitting memorial to him. For additional crazy, check out the reviews on google maps.
Now this isn’t exactly set up for non-Hungarian visitors, the signs are all in Hungarian and it can be a little confusing. Certainly it feel as though the whole place is on a downward spiral. That said, it’s part of the charm, the half-working exhibits and eccentric staff only make the experience more unusual. There’s some of the usual electronic stuff on display like Van De Graaf generators but along with those are some ones you may not have seen. It’s cheap and pretty quick to get around, so give it a go.
Yup, the old POTUS is just taking a stroll through one of the parks in Budapest, casual as you like, although definitely a little larger than life. He’s an impressive figure, and you can tell he’s popular too, his hands are shining bronze from the hundreds of adoring fans(?) that choose to link arms with the 20th Century President. It’s not every day you get to meet such an impressive fellow.
A Holy Fist
Inside the largest of the many churches in Budapest is a mummy, well part of one at least. The mummified right hand, curled into a fist, of an ancient saint-king. St. Stephen was exhumed the day he was canonised (made a saint) and his arm was as fresh as a daisy, so of course the priests lopped it off and stuck it in a box. Which means every year, a little bit of Steve gets to attend his own special day. On August 20th each year the fist is taken on a parade in celebration of its owners work for the faith and the city. It’s actually done quite a tour of Europe having seen Dubrovnik, Venice and Vienna over the years. These days you’ll find the ‘monkeys paw’ at the back of the St. Stephens Basilica, in a box. For a better view, slip 100HUF into the slot and behold the holy light of electricity.
Think a restaurant is where experts cook for you? Think again, in the Makery, you cook your own food! Choose what you fancy from the menu, and the prep chefs will prepare all the ingredients fresh for you, then you’ll get instructions, equipment and you’re left to cook your own meal. From English and Hungarian breakfasts, local specialties and international dishes they have plenty to chose from. With the simpler dishes you’re left to your own devices for the most part, they’ll keep on eye on you, make sure you aren’t about to poison yourself, while the more challenging meals they’ll be showing you how to throughout the process. Great for small groups looking to learn a little about the food, or just people who want to try something different.
A definite favourite, the OneWheel is a recent Californian invention, combining the gyroscopic technology of Segways and the style of skate and snowboarding. It’s a board, with one wheel stuck straight through the middle. Learning to ride can be a bit tricky, but those with a bit of experience on boards will have no trouble, and then it’s a case of seeing what fun you can have. There’s tours which take you around Margaret Island, a huge park between the two banks of the city. Not only is it a cool way to see the island, but also there’s plenty of variety in terrain to test the boards out, it eats up tarmac and gravel, and is even happy gliding up grassy hills. There’s probably some tricks to be learnt for the really quick learners as well.
We all know about Cat Cafes now, so Budapest has upped the game a little bit, and gives you access to an entire zoo (nearly). Chameleons, geckos, rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes and of course plenty of cats as well but the highlight has to be the adorable hedgehogs. They only come out to play in the evening though, and sometimes you need to reserve a table as the place is popular. The food and drinks are surprisingly well priced, and pretty damn tasty as well. Having a reptile climbing up your arm as you sip on a coffee is something everyone should experience at one point in their life.