HUNGARY was full of surprises…I hadn’t been there in over 15 years and I didn’t quite remember it as it is now! Before crossing the border we had to buy a permit (called Vignette) to use the hwy so always check before driving across Europe! Czech, Germany and Netherlands were free for Motorcycles but NOT automobiles. Upon crossing the border, it instantly felt a bit like Mexico as people were trying to sell you, of all things, CELL PHONES! As we made our way towards Budapest, it got busier and busier and loads more traffic hell….in fact the traffic was horrendous with construction everywhere and signs got confusing! You can just see how the infrastructure is going from Commie to Modern over night. It began to feel more like Hong Kong packed.
I have been to many cities but never have I seen so many people out at night in September, walking the streets and filling the center parks with open containers and picnics in the dark! I WAS BLOWN AWAY at the numbers of people, mostly 20’s to 30’s. We were in the Hipster area at a hostel with loads of restaurants and pubs…of which we found info on PUB CRAWL Tours and I can understand why! It has that total party town feel and it wasn’t even peak season. The river, castle, palace, basilica and pedestrian closed streets were all a site to behold. The architecture and homes almost have a comical feel with it’s interesting faces, sculptures, ornate designs and subdued odd color choices. As you drive through various areas you will notice the Soviet Era BLOCKS of flats that seem oppressive and dull. We even ran into a movie set and actor trailers! I found everything, well, amusing is a good word. I enjoyed every minute!
Cruising the countryside heading towards our destination city of Szeged (near the Serbia Border) we found to be relaxing, flat as a pancake, full of cornfields and sunflower fields (it seems like the whole East side of Europe is farming this) but easy to read signs and decent roads as well. Food stops at local restaurants were incredibly delicious with FRESH made bread, dumplings, sauces, pickles, cabbage and cheap large portions….every meal was way under $10 (I AM SO LIKING HUNGARIAN FOOD!!) Many towns have bike paths that run along the country road highways but not as many bikes used as other cities in Europe. Often I would spot big Birds of Prey sitting on fence posts or flying overhead in search of a meal.
Surprisingly, Hungary has VERY clean cities and roads. Pedestrians everywhere can speak English WELL….made me feel like a dumb American not having several languages under my belt, but my little German, Italian and Spanish came in handy. The weather was very warm and downright humid at times. Roof tops are mostly red tile and churches are less ornate with pastel colors and similar to USA old town churches in the smaller towns with small bell towers on top. Seldom, but on occasion you’d find an old Windmill or communist car (Skoda’s and Trabants) or motorbikes (Jawas and MZs) which stood out with everything else being so modern….and yet the older folks are mentality still living in the past and dealing with the democratic learning curve of modern 2015 century. One thing I got a big kick out of were the markers for homes along the countryside…home driveways where marked by TIRES….one on either side of the driveway so one could find their home. Sometimes they are painted in black and white stripes, neon colors or flowers….funny, those Hungarians!