Hi all! I seriously cannot believe it is already November. We have less than 2 weeks left of our 6 months World Travel experience. Now that is depressing. Man, does time fly. Today’s post is about our time in Budapest, Hungary. Spoiler: I really like Budapest, there is just so much to see and do there.
Fun fact: Budapest straddles the Danube River. The west bank of the river contains what used to be the city of Buda and the east bank of the river contains what used to be the city of Pest. Hence the name Budapest. 🙂 Hoch – That. Is. Crazy.
We were supposed to arrive around 6:40pm, but we had a bus transfer in Bratislava, Slovakia and our second bus was delayed. It finally arrived about an hour later than scheduled which wasn’t too bad. So after an onboard movie (the bus company we used is fancy and each seat has its own TV screen with a decent selection of movies), we arrived in Budapest. H – The company, Student Agency, sure did have the fanciest buses I’ve ever seen but their prices were actually cheaper than most of the other companies. If anybody knows how they make money, let me know. You could instantly tell that the city, though beautiful, was not quite up to par in certain aspects with the other cities we’ve visited so far. The majority of vehicles were older models and the public transportation was a mix of old and new trams. We rode the subway to get to our lodging and I felt like I had gone back in time. The train cars were small and old, and the stations where old fashioned looking (in a cute way though). I was cracking up a bit on that first subway ride, but I liked it. It adds to the charm of the city in my opinion.
Our first full day there was the busy one. We had a couple of things planned, one first thing in the morning and one later in the evening so we kept ourselves busy in between. We did end up reverting back to our old “we’re on vacation” ways of drinking alcohol just because, so this day ended up being a little pricier (still cheap) than usual. Ooops.
A few places we visited:
- The Parliament Building which is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings, and the largest building in Hungary. We took a short tour through the inside as well. I thought it was worth it because the interior design was unlike anything I’ve seen before. It was grand and detailed, but at the same time simple and symmetric. H – Today’s Hungary is not large or wealthy enough to warrant such a large and elaborate statehouse; most of Budapest’s historic buildings come from the Austro-Hungarian Empire era which ruled most of Slovak and even some Balkan regions.
- St. Stephan’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic Basilica built in honor of the first king of Hungary, Stephan I. Its interior design was also different than other cathedrals I have seen before. It was very rich in color and looked like it could’ve also been something other than a Cathedral.
- A fortress known as the Citadella on top of Gellert Hill and is located on the Buda side of the river. The fortress is closed, but you could walk around the perimeter, read a long placard on the history of it, and see nice views of the city. There were also a couple of food stands so we ended up drinking a few beers and mulled wines while enjoying the views from a park bench.
- The Central Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. The bottom level of the market contains any food items you can think of including touristy gifts such as paprika (Hungary is the home of paprika) and Unicum (national liquor) and the second level had non-food touristy gift items and a small food court area. We decided to try some sausage while there.
We ran through our itinerary quicker than we thought we would and still had a couple of hours until our boat tour started. We had signed up for one of the evening time slots because we heard that the views once the sun set are worth it. We killed time at a nearby bar before making our way to the pier. The tour included an audio guide and a glass of beer or wine. We went with the wine and were listening to the audio guide at first. The sites along the river were truly beautiful and I wanted to take some photos so we ended up not listening to the audio and going outside (audio is attached to inside chairs). It was chilly, but not horrible and I could take better photos without the glare of the glass from inside. The city did a really good job at making sure that important buildings and bridges were illuminated in a way that makes them really stand out while other non-significant buildings (like a Marriott) were much paler in comparison. It was a nice way to see the city and end the day.
The next day started with an early visit to the Gellert Thermal Bath and Spa. Bath houses are a large part of Hungarian culture and a must do when in Budapest. There are several to choose from and we ended up going with one of the more popular ones. It has indoor and outdoor pools and thermal baths, saunas, and offers spa treatments. We stuck with the thermal baths (of course) and tried both indoor and outdoor baths including several dips in the icy cold smaller pools in between. We went early in the morning to avoid the crowds which was worth it. They were not crowded and we could relax and chill out for a couple of hours.
After the bath house, we headed back to the hostel and ended up taking it easy for a while. We finally headed out for lunch and to see the Buda Castle and surrounding grounds that afternoon. We walked across the historic Chain Bridge (every city has a historic bridge) and then made our way up to the castle entrance. There are a couple of museums on the castle grounds, but we just enjoyed walking around outside. We saw St. Matthias Cathedral and also came across a movie being filmed.
That evening (a Friday night), we decided to join a bar crawl through our hostel. When we first arrived at the starting point, we were instantly thinking what did we get ourselves into. Most of the group were young 20 somethings, loud, and obnoxious. The beginning of the bar crawl started at a hostel bar and was unlimited beer and wine so of course flip cup ensued. We joined in on the fun, but the flip cup they were playing wasn’t so much flip cup as it was let’s get drunk NOW. Now I know that sounds silly, because why else do you play flip cup? But when you fill the cups halfway (way too much), don’t even match up (we definitely did not have the same number of people on each team), and don’t even care who actually wins, you’re really just chugging beer. Seriously we could’ve just played waterfall or something at the rate they were going. Eventually we started talking to some of the drunks and some of them were actually really nice. Made me feel a little bad about my initial assumptions of the group. The bar crawl included 5 bar stops, but once we hit bar #3, Hoch and I decided to call it a night. Again, we just can’t hang like we used to.
The next day we slept in and did not do much of anything besides walk around, eat, and relax until it was time to head to our overnight train to Belgrade.
Last meals in Hungary:
Photos from our evening stroll:
Aaannnd a sneak peek on what to expect next post:
I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Budapest. There is so much to see, do, eat, and drink. It has it all and is definitely worth a visit if you’ve never been. 🙂
Here are more pics from our time in Budapest:
Until next post!