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Budapest Conference 2007 - Budapest: Practical hints
Thread poster: Csaba Ban

Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:58
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Apr 17, 2007

This topic is dedicated to discuss practical tips and hints for your stay in Budapest.

All of you are welcome to post questions that you feel are relevant to all participants.

My fellow countrymen (and countrywomen, of course) are invited to provide answers to such questions, as I may not always be available.


As a starter, let's talk about money.

Currently 1 dollar is about 180 Ft, 1 euro is about 240 Ft. There are many bank machines around the town, including one in the hotel lobby.
There are many exchange booths downtown where you can change cash, although you will get a lousy rate. You're better off withdrawing cash with a card.
If you need to change cash, go to an actual bank, they give you better rates than in exchange booths.

In some places it is possible in Euro cash, but don't count on this. In such cases you'll get your change in forints.

Indicative prices:
public transport ticket 230 Ft (for other ticket prices, see the Venue tab).
Main course in a moderately priced restaurant: 1500 - 2500 Ft
Big Mac menu: 1000 Ft
Museum entrance tickets: 500 - 1200
Taxi from the airport to the hotel: 4200 Ft

A small tip is expected for taxi drivers and in restaurants. Most guidebooks tell you it's 10%, but I think 5-8% will do (I never give more than that.)

In some restaurants a 10% service charge is automatically added to the bill, so check your bill carefully to see if it's included or not, and give a tip accordingly.







[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-06-15 00:15 GMT]


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NataliaElo  Identity Verified
Germany
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Men... Apr 18, 2007

Csaba, you have forgotten the most important information. Where are the best places for shoe shopping?




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Austra Muizniece  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:58
English to Latvian
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:) Apr 18, 2007

NataliaElo wrote:

Csaba, you have forgotten the most important information. Where are the best places for shoe shopping?





Good one:)


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:58
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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TOPIC STARTER
shopping areas Apr 18, 2007

There are several shopping malls in Budapest, and three of them stand out of the crowd: Westend, Mammut and Árkád, in this order of popularity.

If you want spend a lot, go to the recently opened Louis Vuitton boutique next to the Opera.

A day or two before the conference I will pin a fold-out city map on a message board in the hotel lobby and mark some major places of interest, such as shopping malls, museums, powwow venues, etc.

Also, there will be lots of tourist brochures, city maps, restaurant guides, program guides, etc. available for free.


cs.


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Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 02:58
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Callig home Apr 18, 2007

Hi Csaban,

I will leave my band (hubie and kids) at home so will want to call them several times while I am there. I use a recharble card plan for my mobile so don't know if I can get roaming with it (will ask before leaving of course) but I suppose there are telephone cards and public telephones not far from the hotel to make phone calls. I am also hoping on the internet connection at the hotel so that probsbly will skype them as well.

Thanks for any hints,

Fabiana


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Agnieszka Andrzejczak  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:58
Member (2013)
English to Polish
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Fun for children Apr 19, 2007

Hi there, we are coming to Budapest with our 2-year old daughter. We have already found out there is a zoo not far from the hotel. Are there any other places to visit with a small child? We are coming with grand parents, so they need to plan their time during the 2-day conference period. A nice park or a playground would be perfect. The best option would be to get your tip on some place(s) worthwhile visiting, that are located not far away from the hotel, so that my parents do not have to use any means of transportation. Thanks in advance for your help. Regards, Agnieszka

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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:58
Member (2002)
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toddlers Apr 19, 2007

The zoo looks very nice, although some parts of it are currently under reconstrucion (around the elephants and rhinos).

I think it's free for kids under 2.

There's a very good playhouse, right next to the zoo. The entrance is next to the circus, i.e. you have to walk about 200-300 meters on the street outside the zoo, away from Heroes' Square. You will see a small buffet kiosk. Right next to it there's a narrow lane sandwiched between the walls of the zoo to the left and the circus to the right. The playhouse is at the of this narrow lane.
It's HUF 1000 per hour for the child only. If you have a ticket from the zoo from the same day, the playhouse is at half price.
This is a treasure trove for toddlers with all kinds of toys you could ever imagine. I highly recommend this. Adults can go in with the little ones and there's also a small café inside. You have to take your shoes off, so it may be a good idea to take a pair of indoor shoes for your daughter.

There's a large open-air playground about 100 meters from the zoo, next to a small pond. Beware at the pond, as there's no fence.

There are some other playgrounds at the other end of the City Park.

There are many other fun activities for children, but those are at other parts of the city.


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
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May 1st Apr 19, 2007

May 1st is a public holiday, which means ALL shops will be closed, except for a few day-and-night grocery stores.

Museums and exhibitions are open on May 1st, but will be closed on the 2nd.

On May 1st, most probably there will be some friendly march on the wide avenue next to the City Park (just a few hundred meters from Hotel Benczúr). Until 1989, it was more or less obligatory to participate on these official marches, but since then it's just an informal family affair.

This usually takes place in the morning hours of May 1st.

In the park itself, there will be kiosks selling food (sausages, bread and beer, sugar candy, etc.), there will be balloons, a stage or two with family programs, and there may be something in store for the little ones as well.

A good restaurant with high chairs and a toddler table is the one that I found for Monday evening: www.platanetterem.hu

This is just around the corner from the hotel.


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
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making phone calls Apr 19, 2007

I'm not sure, but there may be telephones in the hotel rooms.

Telephone cards are little out of fashion these days, as everybody has mobile phones, but I think they are still available in news kiosks, and maybe even at the hotel. These are definitely preferrable to old-fashioned coin-operated public phone booths, as they are frequently wrong.

cs.


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
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spas Apr 25, 2007

http://www.talkingcities.co.uk/budapest_pages/sights_baths.htm

The closest spa to Benczúr is "Széchenyi fürdő", in the City Park, just behind the Heroes' Square. This is open-air.
http://www.spa.hu/angol/szechenyispa_en.html


If you want to go to a spa after the walking tour (this will end in the Castle), the best option is Rudas.
http://www.caboodle.hu/index.php?id=49&no_cache=1&user_bd_pi1[showSingle]=2741

This one is at the Buda end of Erzsébet híd (Elizabeth bridge, this is the white bridge just South of the Castle).
Quite unassuming from the outside, but in reality this baths dates back to 1550, so it was built in the first decade of Ottoman times.
It's usually open for either men OR women. On Saturday it's open for both sexes until 5pm. Last admission at 4pm. Tickets cost HUF 2200.

(There's another one very close to the Castle, Király fürdő, in a beautiful Ottoman-era building, but this one is predominantly gay. Unfortunately the building is now not picture perfect as it is marred by ugly graffitti.)


The most famous one is Gellért:
http://www.gellertbath.com/

To get there from the Castle area, walk downhill to either side of the Castle. The Castle is flanked on either side by tram lines. No. 19 runs along the river, No. 18 runs behind the Castle. Both of them go to Gellért tér (and beyond).
Group discounts are available in Gellért, see their website.
This is co-ed all days.
There has been a spa here since early medieval times (it was called "muddy baths"). The current building is art nouveau style, just over a 100 years old.
To get to Oktogon from here, take a tram replacement bus to Deák Ferenc tér (ask someone to point you to the right direction). From Deák Ferenc tér, Oktogon is about 15 minutes walking, or you can take the underground.


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Evi Prokopi  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
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Do people speak English? Apr 26, 2007

I do not speak a word in Hungarian! Do Budapest people speak English or we will have to exercise pantomime? If not English, what about any other language?

Thanks!


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:58
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good question Apr 26, 2007

English is your best bet when you approach people on the street.

A recent study in EU-25 revealed that Hungarians are the worst when it comes to speaking tongues. I can't remember the exaxt percentage, but I think it was 1 or 2 percentage points lower than in the UK. And this is the ratio of people who speak any foreign language.

What a waste! Those who do speak at least one foreign language usually tend to speak another one, and another one, etc. Not a very economical distribution of linguistic skills

On a more practical note: if you are lost on the street, try to look around and ask a young (under 40) and a more-intelligent-than-average looking person who does not carry around a city map, a camera and a plastic bottle of water.

Policemen and ticket controllers on public transport have the worst reputation. On the other end, museum staff, salesforce and waiters in better establishments will usually speak English, perhaps German as well. The odd waiter also speaks some Italian.

Alas, all other languages are all Greek to them (or us?)


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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:58
Member (2006)
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Language - don't despair Apr 26, 2007

Csaba Ban wrote:

English is your best bet when you approach people on the street.

A recent study in EU-25 revealed that Hungarians are the worst when it comes to speaking tongues. I can't remember the exaxt percentage, but I think it was 1 or 2 percentage points lower than in the UK. And this is the ratio of people who speak any foreign language.


If I may say so, Hungarians seem to be extremely modest when it comes to judging their own language skills.

I arrived here in Budapest a couple of days ago already and am surprised by the amount of people who speak German and/or English really well.

I find even basic Hungarian phrases incredibly hard to pronounce and to memorize (despite those pieces of paper with scribbled phrases in my pockets), but luckily it turns out that most people in restaurants, shops, kiosks and other touristy places address me in either English or German anyway.

[Edited at 2007-04-26 06:51]


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:58
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Polish to German
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Shoe shopping Apr 27, 2007

NataliaElo wrote:

Csaba, you have forgotten the most important information. Where are the best places for shoe shopping?




From the hotel take the metro line M1 into the city. Drop out at the last station, follow the Vaci utca and look on the right. You will find a shoe butique called "Bizanc" (twice at Vaci utca). They claim to be the best shoe specialist in the whole country, what I tend to believe after having visited both stores yesterday.

Regards
Jerzy


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Evi Prokopi  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
English to Greek
+ ...
:) Apr 28, 2007

Csaba Ban wrote:

English is your best bet when you approach people on the street.

A recent study in EU-25 revealed that Hungarians are the worst when it comes to speaking tongues. I can't remember the exaxt percentage, but I think it was 1 or 2 percentage points lower than in the UK. And this is the ratio of people who speak any foreign language.

What a waste! Those who do speak at least one foreign language usually tend to speak another one, and another one, etc. Not a very economical distribution of linguistic skills

On a more practical note: if you are lost on the street, try to look around and ask a young (under 40) and a more-intelligent-than-average looking person who does not carry around a city map, a camera and a plastic bottle of water.

Policemen and ticket controllers on public transport have the worst reputation. On the other end, museum staff, salesforce and waiters in better establishments will usually speak English, perhaps German as well. The odd waiter also speaks some Italian.

Alas, all other languages are all Greek to them (or us?)


Okay, let's see if we manage to arrive to the hotel today!!!
I don't even know how to say 'hi' or 'thanks' in Hungarian!!


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