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Sleep First, Sightsee Second

My last days in Budapest were spent sleeping, relaxing and not running around frantically trying to get everything seen; more often than not I feel far more exhausted travelling on holiday rather than actually experiencing a “holiday”. The rush and madness to see all the sights in such a short amount of time can be overwhelming, but the more I travel the more I think that it’s about quality, not quantity – why see 100 things for such a little time each than see just a select few and with more consideration and attention?

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Apple burek.

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Happiness, now available tinned.

I had the time to walk calmly around the area in which I was staying, Corvin, walking up and down the streets lined by towering old apartment blocks, walking in and out of local shops and cafes and visiting the Holocaust Memorial nearby.

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A renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s, the memorial also serves as a museum, remembering the lives of millions of Jews lost in the 20th century. Over 500,000 Hungarian Jews are paid tribute to in the museum, their names all delicately inscribed on a large black wall in the outer courtyard. Inside, the black walls inside engulf you and it’s difficult not to feel sadness at the haunting history inflicted on Europe, and especially Hungary as a largely Jewish-populated nation. Initially, the ambience is fairly festive with upbeat music playing upon entry, but the exhibits become accompanied by the sounds of pounding heartbeats which quickly turn to heavy boot marching as the doomed are deprived of their freedom and dignity. White strips of light navigate you through the dark interiors toward people’s personal stories from the holocaust, original documents and personal belongings on display alongside many videos and headphones for an interactive, immersive and emotional experience.

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Sauntering home, I stumbled upon a street-food market hidden away in a large square, surrounded by tall yellow blocks of apartments, connected only to the outside world by a dark, graffiti-covered alleyway. Later, it seemed to be an ideal destination for our final meal – having loved our restaurant experience our wallets were fairly tired. Reaching minus temperatures, however, the choice to eat out at the market seemed like less of a great idea, our food instantly turning as icy as the air that nipped at our exposed skin. It only made our consumption time less, as we were served up a gargantuan burger. And by gargantuan I really mean it – vegans; turn away. Two beef patties towered upon each other, separated only by onions, melted cheese and a whole lotta bacon. Thin, crispy and beautifully seasoned “chips” accompanied, but were gone in an instant. Our hunger seemed insatiable and, like wild predators, we hunted for more instant culinary satisfaction.

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And if the fates had heard, we stumbled upon Gyros, a little Greek kebab shop. Forget your immediate impressions of kebab stores and imagine super fresh, yet exceptionally cheap deliciousness. Doner meat is served either in a box or in a Greek pitta or flatbread, accompanied by sliced tomatoes, lettuce, thick and creamy tzatziki and a slightly spicy red pepper hummus. If you’re stumbling home from an outlandish night out in Budapest, or you’re looking for some cheap and filling fresh grub, Gyros is the place to visit. Bellies aching from our greediness, we didn’t hesitate to buy several bars of Milka on the way home to gobble whilst falling asleep to the buzz of the TV.

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Walking home, I spotted a mini “library” stall.

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