I’m not a date person, and neither is Richie. By this, I mean that neither of us is particularly good at remembering dates, like when we first started dating or when we had our first kiss or any of that stuff that most couples seem to remember. We do, however, have a very fond remembrance of our zoo-iversary.
It’s a long backstory, but once upon a time, when Richie and I were dating in Dallas, he decided that he just wasn’t that into me. Silly boy. He later realized that he was perhaps a little bit wrong about that, much like the main characters in that really awful movie based on the kind of awful book. He devised a plan to win me back, which involved a July 4th outing to the Dallas Zoo (because who can resist a guy when he’s surrounded by penguins and lions?) Spoiler alert: we’re married now, so it worked 🙂 And now we try to annually celebrate that awesome plan with a trip to a different zoo. So far, we’ve been to zoos in Dallas, Fort Worth, Seattle, and … maybe Houston? So this year, we of course decided that a trip to the zoo in Budapest in order.
The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, called Állatkert in Hungarian, is located in the City Park (Városliget), which is just a few stops down the yellow line from our flat. It doesn’t rank high on many of the guidebooks’ must-see lists, which I think is probably because all of the exhibits are in Hungarian. Still, I think this zoo is really fantastic and that people who are in Budapest for a longer stay, or people who are here with kids, should definitely check it out. Here, there is a lot less distance between the animals and the visitors than there usually is in zoos that we’ve visited in the US. The zoo also sells food that you’re allowed to give certain animals (obviously not the lions and tigers… but you can hand-feed the camels, or throw it to the prairie dogs, or any number of animals that are vegetarians). Here’s Richie getting up close to a camel. As you can see, the only thing between him and the camels is a waist-high wire.
They also had a really pretty butterfly garden with lots of different colored butterflies. They enticed them to land near people by placing sweet fruits and bowls of sugary stuff throughout the garden.
The zoo had a huge range of animals – the typical lions and tigers and bears, oh my, but also meerkats, lemurs, penguins, otters, all sorts of creepy snakes and bugs, and a batcave. There was also no warning before we entered said batcave… at least, not a warning in English… so we walked in and I basically let out a whimper-shriek before trying to find the least batty part of the building. Richie thought it was the greatest, though.
The buildings of the zoo are also really neat – they originally opened in 1866, and a lot of the buildings are in the art nouveau style. There are sculptures and carvings throughout the zoo in different styles, so there’s a lot to see in addition to the animals. I love elephants (as any good Ag does), so one of my favorite things was the little painted elephants throughout the zoo. Each one had its own style – one was covered in painted footprints, one with faces, and some just bold and bright colors.
The temperatures here have been scorching (mid-to-upper 90s for two weeks), but today’s 90 degree high was actually not so bad, since the zoo has lots of shade and misters throughout the park. And even the animals didn’t seem to mind the heat too much – although it was pretty funny to see a huge group of penguins clustered around a mister, and then a few steps away see a huge group of people clustered around a similar one.
Final verdict: If you have a week in Budapest, you should absolutely check out the zoo! And bring me with you.
Happy zoo-iversary, babe. I’m oh-so-glad you created this tradition 🙂