Budapest: Europe's must-see destination
For the last 10 or 11 years I've lived in Budapest. It's probably my favorite place on Earth. Everyone talks about Paris and Rome and London. I've been to each several times. They're fabulous cities, no doubt about it. But Budapest is a little different. Every time I come home from a poker trip, it seems like Budapest is more beautiful and more interesting. Every day I find something new I didn't already know about this city.
The city has two sides. West of the Danube River is Buda. Pest lies to the east. Buda has the royal castle, a couple of hills, and a few really beautiful historic districts. Pest is much flatter. The river runs down the middle of the city. It makes it interesting with all of the bridges.
For a tourist or a newcomer, there are many things to explore in both halves of the city. It doesn't matter if you start in Buda or Pest. But if I had to choose one side forever, I'd probably choose Buda. That side is a lot more interesting with its historical background. It also has the hills, which give it a view on the whole city.
Food and drink are a huge part of life here. Everybody probably knows what goulash is, but there are plenty of other foods that I'm crazy about that aren't famous outside of Hungary. There's the traditional fish soup, halászlé, which is usually made with a lot of paprika. There's also the mangalitsa, a hairy pig bred especially in Hungary. It's got a really unique flavor. We also have a lot of desserts made out of poppy seeds and things like that. The Gerbeaud House is probably one of the most famous sweet shops in all of Europe.
We wash all this great food down with pálinka, a type of fruit-flavored brandy. All Hungarians pretty much have to drink pálinka. It's a specialty drink for Hungary with some really nice flavors. You have to be careful though. Pálinka can be 40% or 50% or even 60% alcohol. It's no joke.
The only negative about Budapest is that the poker scene here is poor. We had an EPT stop a few years ago, but it was the first and last time. It's hard because tournaments have to be held in casinos, but the casinos are not big enough to accommodate a tour as successful as the EPT. You can't even find any big cash games in the casinos. They're all private games, which are hard to get into. That's why, when I'm in Hungary, I don't play live poker. I relax and spend some quality time with my friends and family.
Hungary has a really rich history (and let's not forget its famously beautiful ladies!). Unfortunately we were on the wrong side in the world wars, but this country is still my favorite place to live. I've been in a lot of places to play poker, from Los Angeles to Barcelona and Macau and everywhere in between. Budapest is the place where I want to live my life. It's where I feel happy and comfortable.
Richard Toth is a member of Team PokerStars Pro