I was woken at an ungodly hour by the over-excited whispers of twenty six year old man-child lying next to me…’We’re going on holiday! We’re going on holiday!’ and we boarded our lurid pink jet destined for the ex-soviet state, Hungary, just as the sun rays touched the platform.
Budapest stands as an odd collective of opulent Hapsburg-era buildings and the homogenised Soviet rebuilding post WWII. As the German’s made their last stand in November 1944, Russian tanks took control of Pest boulevard’s and the Nazi’s entrenched themselves round Castle Hill. Fighting door to door was bloody, and by the time the German’s surrendered, Buda Castle was raised to the ground and not one bridge remained over the Danube.
Rebuilding fell to the Soviet military government and its presence can be felt as soon as you disembark from the plane, as iron grates line the gangway, leading to the grey arrivals hall, there was an element of ‘Stalag 17’.
Yet by the time you reach the city centre, the cosmopolitan feel of old has been resurrected right across Vaci Utca, the central shopping district. Our La Prima Fashion Hotel couldn’t be further from the sad soviet structures of the outskirts, with bright turquoise flour-de-leys flock wallpaper and velour furnishings, it clings to a vision of the campest Parisian establishment.