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BUDAPEST AND HUNGARY
Hungary joined the European Union on May 1st, 2004. The monetary change is expected to be effective from the beginning of 2010 earliest. Until then, the national currency will remain the Hungarian Forint (abbreviated as HUF or Ft.) Budapest, the capital of the country, is a city of about 2,0 million people. More information about the city, public transport, weather, types of accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and cultural events is available through the following websites.
Home to 1.9 million people, Budapest is the vibrant center of Hungary. The capital city combines the elegance of nineteenth century Habsburg-era buildings with its own blend of Art Nouveau architecture and the understated appeal of the Bauhaus style. Alongside this stately Central European feel is a thriving youth and underground culture. This juxtaposition enables Budapest to satisfy all types of residents-from the quiet conservative to the dedicated explorer.
There are no limits to what one can uncover while in Budapest. A night out could lead from a dark and mysterious basement pub to an elegant exhibition opening, an outdoor dance bar along the Danube, or to one of the myriad of private events and house parties that are sure to be thrown on any given evening. For those preferring a slower pace, Budapest offers numerous leafy squares and parks, relaxing thermal baths, grand museums, shopping centers with international food courts, and many cinemas. Also unique to Budapest is the "kert" [garden] scene, made prominent by the revamping of unused building courtyards in order to house drink and dance bars, popular with locals and visitors alike.
Music lovers will be awed by the city's offerings: the State Opera House and the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy produce world-class operas and concerts, while top rock, pop, jazz and DJ acts make Budapest a frequent stop on their tours. Theater can be enjoyed at a variety of venues around the city, offering both contemporary and classical repertoires in several languages. Movie buffs have access to everything from local art-house productions to the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Those appreciating the arts will take pleasure in visiting the Museum of Fine Arts and the Exhibition Hall, the National Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts, and Millenaris Park. There is also a quickly growing small gallery art scene, popular with both locals and visitors. Sporting enthusiasts too will find numerous opportunities to watch or engage in European football, basketball and other competitive athletics. Budapest and its environs also offer many pleasant areas for cycling, running, roller-blading or hiking.
To help one keep track of everything on tap, several English-language publications advertise a variety of cultural and entertainment events, not just in Budapest but also around the country.
Budapest has a genuinely Central European location: Hungary has borders with seven countries: to the west with Austria and Slovenia, to the north with Slovakia, to the northeast with Ukraine, to the east with Romania and to the south with Serbia and Croatia. Thus, all Central European capital cities are within easy reach by train or bus for a day's trip or weekend explorations, while Italy, Greece, France and other popular destinations are within easy reach due to the increasing number of low-cost airlines operating out of Budapest.