Exotic — it’s one word that you may hear frequently to describe Budapest. The name alone is a portmanteau — a mix of the names of two great cities, Buda and Pest. From its past connections with the Ottomans, or as former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or being immortalized in literature as the first eastbound train stop outside of Western Europe on the Orient Express, Hungary’s exotic capital is one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Not long after my brother and I arrived at Budapest’s magnificent Keleti train station from Ukraine and checked into our hotel, we took one of the street trams to the foot of Gellért Hill and decided to hike up to the Citadella (citadel) and the Szabadság-szobor (Liberty Statue). As we climbed up to one of the leafy parks that rest on the hill, we turned around and discovered a jaw-dropping view of Budapest below us. In one magnificent and panoramic viewpoint, we could see many of the city’s most famous landmarks including the Halászbástya (Fisherman’s Bastion), Mátyás Church, Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Margit Island, Magyar Országgyűlés (Hungarian Parliament), Dunakorzó (Danube Promenade) and Szent István Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica). It was a spectacular view of Budapest that I will never forget.