A guide to visiting Budapest with your dog

You arrive at your hotel in Budapest with your dog, but what’s next? Luckily, there are lots of things you can see and do in the city with your dog alongside you.

hunagrian parliament

Hungarian Parliament

Getting around

  • Dogs are welcome on all transit, they don’t need a ticket, they just have to be on a leash. It actually does say that they need a ticket, but no one cares. The signs say they need a muzzle but I’ve never actually seen a dog on transit with a muzzle, don’t worry about that. If you get in trouble for not following these rules don’t yell at me, in my experience they’re fine with no ticket and no muzzle.
  • Budapest Taxi is the only taxi company in the city that allows dogs, the other ones don’t. I would avoid taxis when you can, though.
  • Walk, duh.

Sightseeing

  • Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church- skip the funicular and walk up the steps
  • St. Stephen’s Basillica- walk to Fashion Street from here for some shopping, most stores allow dogs inside
  • Parliament and The Shoes on the Danube
  • Heroe’s Square and Vajdahunyad Castle
  • Citadella
  • walk through the Jewish District

dog fashion street.jpeg

Restaurants

Most restaurants are dog friendly. Gerbaud Cafe allows your dog to sit at the table with you, and they bring you some cookies. Iguana, the Mexican restaurant allows dogs, along with Parazs Thai, the Hummus Bar, the Pointer Pub and Szimpla Kert. Don’t be afraid to take your dog in, most places will bring them water and be extremely welcoming. If they send you away, just go onto the next one.

gerbaud cafe.jpg

Things you might miss

  • thermal baths
  • museums
  • going inside the churches (St. Stephens and Matthias)
  • funicular up Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Budapest Eye
  • the Zoo
  • Central Market Hall

dog budapest.jpeg

Definitely bring your dog to Budapest if you’re on the fence about it. Almost everywhere, and everything is dog friendly and everyone here loves dogs.

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Living in Hungary: Things you’ll notice about Hungarians as a foreigner

Hungary- the land of Palinka, schnitzel, paprika, sweet wine, and all things fried. As with most countries unfamiliar to you, Hungarian cities might come with a bit of a culture shock. Below you’ll find a list of things you should expect upon arrival to this lovely country, whether it be Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, or any of the smaller towns.

budapest parliament.jpeg

They aren’t yelling, it’s just how they talk

I constantly feel like people are yelling here, but it’s just how Hungarians talk. The first time I experienced one of R’s family dinners, I quietly asked him “why are they yelling so much?” He just says that’s how they talk. They’re loud; no one’s mad at you, and no one’s mad at each other (probably).

Blowing their nose as loud as they can in any, and every public place

This might be a me thing, but I hate the sound of sneezing, people blowing their nose, loud chewing, basically anything of the sorts. People carry packs of Kleenex everywhere. Once I saw a lady pull out a LEATHER HOLDER for her Kleenex on the tram. I saw someone carrying around a pack at the gym, just incase their nose starts to run mid set, I guess. It’s always the loudest they could possibly blow their nose too. I think sniffling is considered rude here, but is everyone always sick?

Everyone’s afraid of getting sick

The heat in every store, bus, tram, restaurant, bar, and house is always on sauna mode. I swear the biggest fear engrained in every Hungarian’s brain is the common cold. It might be freezing outside, but dress in layers because any time you go inside, almost anywhere, you will be sweating. Also, as someone who usually goes barefoot, that’s not okay here. If you go into a Hungarian household, and you don’t have slippers, they will INSIST you borrow a pair of slippers, or flip flops in the summer. You might catch a cold…..

Never say no to food

It’s really rude to refuse food if you go in someone’s house. It’s also rude to not offer visitor’s food. Be prepared either way.

Service is… Questionable

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for a while, and the service you receive in most Hungarian restaurants would not be up to par with North America. Do not expect your server to quality check your meal after dropping it off, do not expect them to be overly friendly, and expect to have to chase them down for the cheque. That’s the hardest part. I honestly have no idea what would happen if you felt the need to complain about your food. Do they take care of it? Make you something new? No idea. I don’t think it’s a thing here. Tip is often included in bills, but I always tip if it’s not. I don’t really know what’s expected. I always think that serving here would be so easy because you can be kind of bitchy and no one bats an eye and no one jumps on the server to complain that somethings wrong (when it’s not) so they can get free things. I shouldn’t get started on server problems because that might take over this post.

Poppyseeds and walnuts

These are staples in Hungarian diets. Pasta with poppyseeds and sugar, walnuts in most baking, same with poppyseeds. It’s hard to get away from them.

Say hello to everyone, and also bye

You might notice the person you’ve never spoken to saying “szia,” as they pass you on the stairs going to your apartment, or saying “hallo,” when you leave. Or they’ll walk in the gym and say “sziasztok,” which is hello or good bye to more than one person. These greetings are like aloha, they mean hi or bye, and everyone says it to everyone when they arrive or leave. I feel like the people at the gym I go to think I’m rude because I don’t usually do that. Whoops.

budapest bridge.jpeg

As an outsider, it’s important to be respectful of the cultural differences when visiting new places. There are several other small things I’ve noticed while being here, and none are bad, they just seem strange or different to me. But who am I to judge? I’m just some Canadian girl.

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hungary foreigner.png

 

A really really long list of things to do in Hungary

Another post about Hungary.. Are you surprised? This is basically a recap of every other post, but combined. In no particular order, here is a list of absolutely everything I can think of doing in Budapest and other areas of Hungary.

Thermal baths- Hungary is famous for these. I went in the winter, and don’t think I would enjoy going in the summer. The Szechenyi Thermal Baths are pictured here. It’s the largest one and I’d recommend it for your first time. You can make a day out of it and get a massage or other spa treatments.

Fisherman’s Bastion- Exploring around here is a must! You’ll get a gorgeous view of the city, and there are some nice cafes and restaurants up here. You can go up the funicular, but I prefer just walking up the stairs.

St. Stephens Basilica- You can go inside for a small price, I don’t remember how much but it wasn’t a lot. Then you can go to the top and get a beautiful view of the city.

Walk around fashion street- This is where to go if you want to shop. It’s also good to find souvenir shops and people watch.

Fashion Street

Fashion Street at Christmas

Eat a chimney cake– The walnut covered ones are the best. Hungarians love walnuts. (They are really cheap at the subway stations.)chimney cake

Eat goulash (at Balvaros Lugas)- This restaurant has such good traditional Hungarian food, and it’s fairly cheap.

Go to the ruin bars (Szimpla Kert)- Go to all of them, but Szimpla is my favourite.

szimpla

this was taken upstairs looking down

Walk around the Jewish District

Visit the Dohány Street Synagogue- The largest Synagogue in Europe, and the second largest in the world. There’s a museum attached to it.

Go to the Holocaust Memorial Centre and the House of Terror Museum

Run around Margaret Island– There is running track around the island. There’s also the water polo stadium, a small zoo, a hotel, and a couple bars on the island.

Go to a hockey game (HK Budapest, Ujpest, MAC)

Go to the Great Market Hall- Many locals grocery shop here, it’s busy and a great places to take in the culture.

Eat lángos- fried dough, garlic, sour cream. Buy this at the Great Market Hall.

Go to all the bridges

Go to the Citadella Sétány at night (or during the day I guess)

citadella

The view from the Citadella

Hummus bar, Parasz Thai, Iguana– For more about restaurants, see my favourite restaurants in Budapest post.

Cake and pastry at Gerbaud or/and Ruzzwurm– These cafes are the best in the city. (Try Kremes, Dobostorta, the and cheese danish).

Cheap wine spritzers from Froccskocsma– This place is the best. They usually speak English here, just ask for a wine spritzer and it will be about 60 cents Canadian.

Have a beer at the High Note Sky Bar– It’s a bit fancy but they don’t care if you’re underdressed.

high note

(underdressed) at the High Note

Ride the Budapest Eye

budapest eye

The Budapest Eye

Go to Lake Balaton– It’s not a far train ride  from Budapest and a really nice place to spend a day in the summer.

Lake Balaton

Lake Balaton

Go to some thrift stores

Have rose shaped gelato (Gelarto Rosa)

Gelarto Rose

Go to the zoo– I’m not a huge fan of zoos, but you can play with goats at this zoo, and it seems really nice.

Go to Boldogkőváralja– This isn’t close to Budapest, but if you have rented a car then why not?

Boldogkőváralja

Boldogkőváralja

Explore the Buda side– There isn’t as much going on as the Pest side, but it’s worth walking around.

Go to Hero’s Square

Hero's Square

Hero’s Square

Go to Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle

Go skating or rent peddle boats right next to the city park– Depending on the season, it will be ice or a lake.

Get bagels at Budapest Bagel- The area this little bagel store is in is really nice, so make sure you explore.

Go to Szentendre and walk around and have a picnic– Such a cute little town, the streets were magical.

 

Visit Esztergom Basillica (the largest church in Hungary)

cathedral

Get a chocolate bar filled with cheese (Turo Rudi)– A Hungarian thing- surprisingly good.

Eat chicken paprikash and stock up on paprika and erős pista.

Gundel Crepes (at Gundels)– Or any other restaurant. They light them on fire.

Get burgers at street bistro

Eat túrós táska for breakfast– My favourite pastry- a cheese filled danish.

Coffee at the New York Café– Or be like me, and just go in to take a photo.

See the shoes on the Danube- A memorial along the river for the Jewish people killed in 1944.

Walk around the Hungarian Parliament building– The number 2 tram on the Pest side is a gorgeous tram ride that will take you along the Danube. You’ll see the castle on the other side of the river, the chain bridge, and the parliament.

parliment

Go on either a dinner cruise, or a party cruise down the Danube- Some party cruises are all you can drink for about fifty dollars Canadian.

Budapest

That’s everything I can think of, and what’s bothering me is that I know I’m missing some things. I hope when you visit this country you can take in everything it has to offer. If you can think of anything I’m missing in this post- let me know! For more specific details of some things listed here, there are more detailed posts in my “Hungary” category.

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A guide to the Hungarian Christmas Markets

I love Christmas, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. I was lucky enough to get to experience the markets in Budapest this year, and I think it will have to be a yearly occurrence.

budapest market

I found myself overwhelmed at the market even considering I’ve already tried a lot of traditional Hungarian food. I also have a real live Hungarian who will refuse to buy certain things at the market (I’m looking at you, chimney cakes and pork knuckles), because it’s so much more expensive than what you can get elsewhere. I’ve made a list of my favourite things you can find at the market, although the market isn’t where I’ve tried most of them.

pork knuckles

Mulled wine (Foralt Bor)– If I could make myself a perfume in the scent of mulled wine, I would. Why don’t you just drown me in it? You can make this at home easily. Just heat up a dry red wine (a sweet wine will turn bitter when heated up), add rum, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, anise, sliced up orange and apple, and you’ll have happiness in a cup. You can buy (or make) this with white wine or rose, but I like red the best.

Chimney Cake (Kürtőskalács)– I’m so in love with these. It’s a sweet yeast dough rolled on a wooden roller, coated in sugar, baked over charcoal or in the oven, and then rolled in the topping (cinnamon, walnut, vanilla, etc.) I asked if I could buy the stick they make it on, but they said no.

Tip: If you’re at the Vörösmarty tér market, the Deák tér subway station right outside of the Starbucks on Fashion Street sells them for 350HUF (around $1.50CAN) instead of the 2000HUF (around $10CAN) they’re sold for at the market.

Goulash- One of the most popular Hungarian dishes, and for a good reason. It’s like a hug in a bowl. I mean, you can get this at almost every restaurant in the country, but they serve it in bread bowls at the market, and who doesn’t love bread bowls?

goulash

Lángos- This grew on me the second time I had it. It’s a must try. Fried dough covered in sour cream, cheese, and garlic. Health.

Tip: The cheapest and best place to get lángos is the Central Market Hall.

Kemencés Lángos- This is almost like pizza but it’s made of the lángos dough and baked. I only had a bite of this, but I think I like it better than the regular lángos.

Túrós Csusza– Another weird Hungarian food that I ended up liking; these guys have the best food, I swear. This is pasta or noodles with sour cream, Hungarian cheese (almost like cottage cheese), and bacon- it’s worth the calories.

Cabbage Rolls- These are my favourite. At the market, they’re served on top of a giant hashbrown, yay for carbs!

Tip: Don’t buy these at the market, find them at a restaurant because no singular cabbage roll is worth 3000HUF (around $15CAN) in my books.

Hungarian Sausage- I feel dumb writing these sometimes. How can I explain that sausage is good and convince you to try it? I can’t, it’s obvious. It’s not as important as trying the chimney cakes, but it’s up there. You can get them on buns or by themselves, but either way, they won’t disappoint.

sausage

Roasted Chestnuts- If I’m being honest I never got around to trying these. I just think it’s worth noting that their sold here. The song “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” always runs through my head when I see these vendors. You can only buy them ten at a time when I only want two. I google searched “how to eat roasted chestnuts,” in attempts to prepare myself, and am still unsure of whether you have to crack them or just eat them how they are. If anyone knows.. Let me know..

I’ll end this blog post with a piece of advice. Try everything you possibly can. Unless you’re vegan, you will like all the food here, except DO NOT TRY THE PALINKA. I am serious, no matter what anyone tells you, it’s not good. If it’s offered for free, say no. Don’t look at it, don’t smell it, don’t consume it. You can try the Unicum, it just tastes like medicine, but under no circumstances should you ever think putting Palinka in your body is a good idea.

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christmas market

Budapest: The best restaurants

I could go on and on… and on, about how good Hungarian food is, but restaurants in Hungary are not where I usually eat it. Budapest has everything you could ever want when it comes to food. I ended up going back to some of my favourites from the last time I was here, but also discovered some new places. These are the spots I’ll keep going back to every time I end up here, because all roads lead to Budapest.

Breakfast

Cold cuts, bread, or eggs are popular here for breakfast. I usually just get yogurt, fruit, and sometimes a pastry, from the grocery store. My favourite pastry is the one filled with cheese (túrós táska). R’s grandma makes these, and it was only this year when I was introduced to this magical invention. I’ll need to get her to teach me how to make these all by myself.

pastry

Túrós táska

Kebabs

You’ll find a kebab stand on every corner here, and I consume more of these than I’d like to admit, but my favourite is Pasa Kebab. The baked pita kebabs are unreal, and their kebab pizza is also really good. Honestly, Pizza King Express, and the other 500HUF (around 2.50CAN) kebab stands are good too. I mean you can’t really go wrong with a kebab, ever.

kebab pizza

Pasa Kebab pizza

Hungarian, Thai, Mexican, and Hummus

These are my favourite restaurants in the city, and the ones I’ve found myself going to on multiple occasions.

If you want traditional Hungarian food at a good price, go to Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő. It’s not insanely overpriced like most of the Hungarian restaurants in the touristy areas of the city, and the food is amazing. Last time, I got the goulash, and R got the deer stew. This time, getting the deer stew at this restaurant was a priority, so we went here our first night.

deer stew

Thai food is one of my favourites, and the food at Parasz Thai is some of the best I’ve ever had. The Pad Thai and the hot and sour soup are both really good. The salad rolls are really good. The lemonade is really good. Everything is really good. There’s a few locations around the city.

Mexican food is also something I could eat everyday and not get sick of. Iguana is the place to go in Budapest for Mexican. I’ve been here a few times, and consumed a couple pitchers of margaritas and a few too many chips. The smokey salsa, guacamole, fajitas, jalapeno/cream cheese soup, and taco salad are all my top picks. I think this was the first restaurant I went to in Budapest, and I’ll go here every time I come back.

Falafel and hummus are something I eat on the regular as well. There’s a chain called The Hummus Bar, that has restaurants all over Budapest. Don’t even get me started on their laffa bread, only one of the locations has this though. We had an emergency hummus craving one night, and went here but they were closed. There were still some employees kicking around, and let us buy hummus and bread to go. My HEROES.

Bars

I’ve been to quite a few of the ruin bars, and you should definitely make a point of exploring all of them. They’re all so unique. Szimpla Kert is one of my favourites. It’s usually packed, but if you need to pick one ruin bar, go here. There’s an upstairs, an outside area, and really interesting decor.

szimpla

this was taken upstairs looking down

Especially this time around, I’ve been at Froccskocsma more that I’d like to admit. Go here if you like wine spritzers; they’re 190HUF (90cents CAN) each. We’ve spent a few afternoons sitting here, doing homework, and taking advantage of the cheap spritzers. There’s a cheap kebab stand (yay) right outside, that you can order from if you get hungry from all the homework and learning. There’s a bar across the street with a really similar name that’s owned by the same people, where everything is double the price, so be careful and make sure you go to the cheap one.

Sweet things

I have a huge sweet tooth, and Hungarian’s make the best cakes.

Ruszwurm Cafe is a must visit. They have the best Krémes, which is my absolute favourite cake, ever. This cafe has been around for close to forever, and it’s always busy. It’s right by Fisherman’s Bastion. They make their Krémes with whipped cream instead of the egg whites that several bakeries make theirs with. I tried the Dobostort this time too. It’s very Hungarian, and very traditional; it’s a walnut cake and chocolate frosting with about ten layers in total, and a caramel triangle on top. The cheese danish is also delicious, and so is the coffee. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

kremes

Ruszwurm’s last time

ruszwurm

Ruszwurm’s this time

Another place I’ve tried Krémes is Gerbeaud. We didn’t go here this time, but it’s one of the best cafes in the city. It’s made with egg whites here. I love this cake no matter what, but I think I like it better with the whipped cream instead of egg whites.

gerbeaud

Gerbeaud Cafe last time

Langos is a must try in Hungary as I’ve mentioned before. It’s not sweet, but you can get sweet toppings put on top if you’re not in the mood for garlic. The cheapest and best place to get it is Central Market Hall. This market has everything; lots of people who live here do their grocery shopping here. It’s definitely a good place to immerse yourself in Hungarian culture, try new food, or buy souvenirs.

danube

There are tons of places to eat in Budapest that are good, but I’ve been to all of these places more than once, and would go to them again. Avoid the expensive restaurants in the tourist areas, and read reviews before trying a new place. This city has something for everyone, and any type of food you could ever crave. Even Kraft Dinner, it’s sold at the American grocery store.

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best restaurants

Reasons to visit Budapest in the winter

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Széchenyi Chain Bridge

Why do I love this city so much? I adore it. Last time I was here, it was over 30 degrees everyday. We went to the lake, ran around the island, and spent a lot of time drinking on patios. This time, it’s Christmas. After every city I’ve gone to recently not having their market open or Christmas lights on, Budapest does. I’m hoping the amount of hot wine I’ve consumed since being here is acceptable because of the Christmas lights. Other than the things you should see all year round, these are the must do’s in the winter.

train station

Budapest Train Station

The Christmas Market

This is number one. I’ve spent almost every night here just walking around. There’s one market in Vörösmarty Square that opened November 11th this year, and the other in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica opened November 25th. Hot wine, langos, chimney cakes, goulash, and everything else I can’t pronounce are all sold here. Coming soon is the best things to eat at the market; that place is overwhelming. Things have gone up in price a bit everywhere in this city, and especially are more expensive in the tourist filled markets. Can you blame them though? Even if you buy your wine (or chimney cake) somewhere just outside the market, it’ll be cheaper, and it’s fun walking around looking all the decorations, cookware, and of course, the food.

 

Varosligeti Mujegpalya

This is the outdoor skating rink, and opens mid November. Last time I was here, I remember people using those little swan pedal boats where the ice is now. It’s by the castles and Hero’s Square. I find it really interesting that kids don’t wear helmets when skating. The last time I tried to go skating with the “skate with the players” thing with Robi’s old team, I was asked to put on a helmet. Survival of the fittest I guess? I saw a man here skating around with a weighted vest on as fast as he possibly could. Public skating terrifies me a little because there are so many people who think they’re athletes, and I don’t want to get run over by them. It was fun though. It’s such a big ice rink that it doesn’t really feel as busy as it is.

 

Thermal Baths

I had no desire to go here in the summer, but it’s cold out so I figured I should go at least once. We went to the biggest one, called Szechenyi Thermal Baths. This place is a maze. I didn’t realize how massive it was. I wanted to go from 6-8am so it was cheaper, but I didn’t wake up in the morning. There’s no other option other than to just buy a day pass, but I was over it after two hours. It was the most expensive bath I’ve ever taken. The water also smells like farts in some of the pools… It’s the sulfur and the other minerals that are supposed to be good for you. Did I make this place sound desirable?

thermal baths

szechenyi thermal bath

Szechenyi Thermal Bath

The Budapest Eye

This wasn’t here in the summer, and apparently it used to be here permanently and was way bigger, but now it’s just a plain old ferris wheel with lights on it. It looks gorgeous lit up at night, but there’s not a chance I’m paying for that when you can get the same view from Fisherman’s Bastion. If I had more money to waste on dumb shit, I definitely would though- same deal as the London Eye.

budapest eye

The Budapest Eye

I think I’m enjoying Budapest more the second time around. Whether that’s because of the hot wine, the fact that I absolutely hate the heat, if I’m just stoked to not be paying $16 for a beer anymore, or it’s actually better in the winter, I’m not sure. There’s so much to do even though it’s a bit cold, especially if you get lucky and have a few sunny days.

 

budapest castleBudapest Castle

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budapest in winter

Budapest: daydreamin’ about goulash

IMG_5805

I fell in love with Budapest last summer, and kind of want to transfer to Corvinus and finish my degree there. I just loved everything about that city, from the bars, all the bridges (I love bridges), the food, the history, the $8 pedicures, and kebabs. Robi was trying to talk me out of it when I was whining about not finding work yet in Oslo where everyone speaks English; few people speak English in Hungary.  Maybe he’s right (never) and living there is not a good idea, but I’ve been reminiscing about that city a lot lately. Flights aren’t even that expensive in December to fly from Oslo… Rob if you’re reading this, it’s around $200 and I’ll 200% come back with a puppy and be 200 degrees happier.

I’ve compiled a list of things to see and do. I’m missing some because I don’t remember what things are called; those “Learn the Hungarian Language” tapes that were given to me only went so far.

Things to do:

  • Ruin Bars- These are old buildings that have been transformed into strange bars. They’re all really unique and it should be noted that a beer is between two and three dollars there.
  • Central Market Hall- You can get fried dough here. It’s also next to a pretty bridge and my hopefully future university.
  • Thermal Baths- I don’t know why I’m putting this here. I went in the summer, it was hot outside, and it was described to me as “old people soup.” But maybe in the winter it would be worth it.
  • Fisherman’s Bastion- Mostly a viewing platform for the Danube. Super pretty.
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica- The big church, you can’t miss it. I got yelled at for not wearing enough clothing inside. You can go to the top and see the whole city.
  • Margaret Island- You can run around this if you’re into running. The water polo stadium, a small zoo, a park, and a hotel are on this island.
  • Hero’s Square- It’s what the Art Gallery is to Vancouver, almost, if that makes sense.

Things to eat:

  • Fried dough- JUST DO IT. It’s covered in sour cream and garlic.
  • Krémes- My favourite cake ever. Pastry and custard, two of my favourite things combined.
  • Somlói Galuska- Chocolate and walnuts and sponge cake and everything good in life.
  • Kürtőskalács-  It’s like a cinnamon bread cone. You can find them filled with ice cream too.
  • Kebabs- I know these are Turkish but they are so good.
  • Goulash- Duh.

I promise I ate more than cake and ice cream while there. I don’t think there is a type of Hungarian food I have tried and not liked including the strange-ish things Robi has made for me. I’m talking about the boiled meat, bread dumplings, and pureed vegetables that is somehow delicious despite what it looks like. Everything else is meat and potatoes.

I feel like lots of people don’t think of Hungary when travelling Europe, I definitely didn’t. There’s so much to do and so many things to see that it should be on everyone’s list of places to go. Also, those “48 hours in Budapest” posts you see on Pinterest are false advertising, it’s no where near enough time.

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budapest