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Budapest: the Dental capital of Europe

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Budapest: the 'Paris of Central Europe', the jewel of the Danube, the home of spas, palaces, elegant boulevards and cheap dental treatment.

That's right, despite its many attractions, for growing numbers of people the Hungarian capital is not simply a place to enjoy a well-earned break, but the number one destination for any work the dental insurance people won't cover.

Indeed, for the cost of going private in the UK, it's possible to get the work done down on Andrassay Avenue and then return for a night in a cheap hotel overlooking the Blue Danube and still be quids in.

One major factor in the boom, aside from growing waiting lists back home, is the growing number of cheap flights between the UK and Budapest, a fact not lost thousands of stag parties every weekend, as a trip to any Hungarian Irish bar or venue featuring Central European beauties will show.

According to specialists in dental tourism, the average value of overseas treatment being enquired about is as much as £2,200.

Now anyone with a perfect smile and free of any tooth ache may well feel that, for that price, it would be far more pleasurable to spend a couple of weeks on a private Caribbean beach, but anyone not so lucky will be interested to hear that the equivalent work would cost £5,945 in the UK, equivalent to an average saving of £3,745.

Given such a saving, in July alone 58,927 Brits enquired about the possibility of taking a cheap flight to a dentists chair far, far away, a 53 per cent rise on the same period of last year.

To fly all the way to this great city and see nothing more than the ceiling of a dentist's treatment room and an airport waiting lounge would, however, be a huge waste of an opportunity to see one of the finest cities Europe has to offer.

What makes the city so special is that it is, in effect, a two for the price of one deal, with the two former separate cities of Buda and Pest - which were only relatively recently united into one single entity – totally distinct.

Pest, on the south side of the Danube, for example, far from reminding me of the old Eastern side of the iron Curtain, was reminiscent of 19th century Paris, not surprising as its major architects were obsessed with the French capital.

In contrast, the north side of Buda has the medieval magic of Prague, complete with historic castle, churches and winding alleys which are practically deserted when the sun goes down.

For me, however, the highlight of a summer in Budapest is something that isn't shown in any travel brochure or even visible from a walking or tram tour of the city.

Once the long, hot summer kicks in, resourceful party organisers open dozens of 'kertek' all over the city.

Literally translated as 'gardens' these bars and clubs take over former derelict buildings or public spaces and can only be found through word of mouth as they don't usually go to the effort of putting signs outside the huge wooden, windowless doors.

What better way to forget an afternoon of dentistry?

 

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