By Natalie Weatherer
Guidebook in hand I eagerly set off to discover what the mysterious city of Budapest had to offer. After a while of looking around the myriad of roads, quickly beginning to all look the same, I began to doubt my ‘never fail’ navigation skills. What felt like hours walking around in circles - spotting the same street vendor, sniggering as I passed him for the fourth time - I started to curse the ‘expert’ guidebook and map.
An unlikely rescue came in the form of the local fish foot spa (nothing really prepares you for the sensation of small fish nibbling away at your toes!). Having been coerced in I found my friendly hosts (the owners not the fish) to be the finest guides to an authentic Hungarian experience. Tips ranged from to where to go for good music and nightlife to most importantly, where to find traditional Hungarian cuisine.
Taking on board the real expert advice I found many treasures. In particular ‘For Sale’ a small barn-like venue with gargantuan sized portions, monkey nut shells strewn all over the floor and walls covered in notes, drawings, receipts and even train tickets full of fond and endearing messages from travellers from all over the world who had once come through the doors.
Here I felt like I had walked straight into truly authentic Budapest lifestyle. All of the places I eventually saw were off the beaten track – unbelievably none of which could be found in the ‘trusty’ guidebook. Budapest was full of surprises but most memorably was where I learnt how to become a traveller not a tourist – to ditch the guidebook dive in and see where the road takes you.