I arrived in Budapest, Hungary, two days ago. Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary with about 1.7 million people (2010) in the city proper, and 3.2 million in the metro area (Wikipedia). As an English-speaking-only tourist navigating an unfamiliar big city, Budapest is fairly easy to get around in.
Budapest has a very well developed public transportation system comprised of buses, trams, and subways (and trains for city to city travel). I have not traveled by bus yet and I’ve found I can get most places quickly via a tram or subway line. The trams and subway cars come very quickly and I believe my longest wait for one of them has been about 3 minutes. Today, I just missed a tram by about 30 seconds when I was stuck at a red light. The next tram on the line came less than 1 minute later. Other times, I’ve missed a subway car by a few seconds and only had to wait a minute or two before another one arrived.
The hardest part of traveling around the city is not being able to understand the spoken names of the stops. While the above ground trams that electronic signs that announce the stops, the subways do not and the signs at the stops are not always easy to spot. Counting the stops on the map before getting on is a big help in this regard.
The city has a wealth of photographic subject matter available. The architecture is very beautiful and grand. Many of the buildings are made with high quality materials and old world charm. However, the architecture also indicates that a great lack of capital during the last several decades has resulted in a city in decline and decay. Many buildings display decaying facade material. The excellent transportation system mostly features cars that are out of a 1960’s or 70’s time warp. While some of the trams seem new and modern, others are serviceable but very old.
If you like to photograph urban decay and grunge, it is an excellent city to visit. Safe and relatively inexpensive. I understand that it is one of the least expensive European cities for travelers to visit as it has been to poor to adopt the Euro and still maintains the Hungarian Forint as currency with its more favorable exchange rate with US dollars.