It had turned into a late night once I’d found the karaoke bar. Tacky? Yes. Noisy? Certainly. And not exactly authentic. But drinking doesn’t have to be about history and culture all the time.

So I’m grateful for a later start today, and equally grateful that the biting wind has eased. It’s still quite chilly but the sound is shining. A day fit for heroes, you might say. Heroe’s Square is one of Budapest’s best known monuments, featuring the seven chieftans who founded Hungary and various other political figures. Over the decades it’s become a place for gathering, whether for a celebration or a demonstration. And even with about a hundred or so visitors at the same time as me, the place is enormous and imposing.

Equally inviting is the adjacent City Park. Acres of green space are blended with noteable buildings. Once again my old friend “construction works” means I can’t get inside the Jaki Chapel – but I can enjoy the gatehouse that leads to it and the Hungarian Musem of Agriculture. And NewsMutt makes an anonymous friend…

There’s not enough time to look at tractors, or whatever else happens to be in the agricultural museu – but there is time for lunch. One of the cheapest places to eat is the Budapest Central Market – a vast hall selling fresh meat, fruit and veg, and a million different Hungarian souvenirs. On the top floor a series of stalls and a restaurant offer great value and tasty food. They may still be quite touristy, but they’re a world away from some of the city’s high end eateries.

Just to top it all off, the market even has a statue of who I take to be its founder. He seems like a jolly fellow – happy to sell you almost anything.

It’s been great being back in Budapest for a couple of days. Other European cities have evolved – and not always for the best in terms of price, or gentrification. Budapest remains a charming and affordable place to visit – a little more expensive than when I first came here over a decade ago, but still relatively good value. The trick is to step a couple of blocks from the main streets, find a bar that may not look too swanky. The chances are it’ll be welcoming and memorable.

And so it’s time to get packing for tomorrow’s onward journey to another of my favourite places – Prague.


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