I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.
I only have 3 more countries to recap, so if I try really hard, maybe, just maybe I can finish recapping all the trips before the year ends! It’s almost been a full year since I took the trip, so I’m reallllllly staying on top of this whole thing…..
In my last post I discussed traveling around Vienna, and I mentioned that getting train tickets to Budapest was super easy, and it was. We asked the lady working behind the desk for help, and she told us to just buy a general ticket, and that the train runs every hour, so you could chose your time. What she failed to mention was that you should reserve a seat. Since we didn’t know to do this we spent the 3 hour train ride to Budapest being bumped from seat to seat. None of the seats said if they had been reserved, so every stop we made, there was a chance of someone getting on, and kicking you out of their seat, which happened a lot. My travel partner and I did not sit together for most of the trip, but in the last 40 minutes we managed to get a spot next to each other, so we cracked open some wine and enjoyed the ride. Even though I felt the train was disorganized, taking a train was far superior to the bus. After going on this trip I have vowed to myself that I must make enough money in life so that I can always take a train over the bus.
We arrived in Budapest after dark but luckily we already had a hotel booked. We hopped from one train to the next; I found transportation in Budapest to be very easy to use. They had uber, and a great train system. The train was underground, so when we came up the stairs, the first thing we saw was the Liberty Bridge.
During this time I was kinda reaching my travel threshold (like most of the trip), and all I wanted to do was shower. The hotel in Vienna just felt dirty to me, so I couldn’t bring myself to shower and use the bathroom. Our hotel in Budapest was lovely, and the shower rejuvenated me. We were spending three nights in Budapest, so we had no plans for the night, we weren’t in a hurry, so getting to just bum around for the night was exactly what I needed.
Across the street from our hotel was a place called Cafe Frei. I will never be able to put into words how much I loved Cafe Frei. They feature coffee drinks from all over the world, each page had a theme; Italian, Latino, French, etc. And probably the best part were the prices. The exchange rate in Hungary is fantastic, everything was so cheap. For a fancy cup of coffee, plus tiramisu, my total was around $4.
After leisurely drinking coffee, we decided to find a place to grab dinner. Once again I’m going to tell you that trying to decide where to eat when there are more than two of you is quite a challenge. We ended up at an Italian restaurant which was delicious, and affordable. I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt for ordering wine with dinner. After that we went to another pub for beer. While there we tried a tomato based Hungarian stew, and it was everything. I quickly learned that Hungarian cuisine was my favorite of all the countries we had visited.
After having a few more beers we headed back to our hotel to crash for the night. I crashed, and I crashed hard. The next morning we went back to Cafe Frei for breakfast (yes, it really was that good), and then packed up to go to our Air B’n’B. We booked two nights in an apartment, and made sure that it had a washing machine so that I could do my laundry. We took a 10 minute uber ride to the apartment, and our driver was just the best. If I could have had him as my driver for my whole stay that would have been great.
Since we had nearly 3 days to spend in Budapest we didn’t feel the need to rush around. We were going to spend the day relaxing, and visiting the baths. Anyone who has ever been to Budapest will tell you that you must visit the thermal baths, and they weren’t wrong. We visited Szechenyi Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. When you read medicinal bath, this means that the thermal water has minerals such as calcium and magnesium (and many others) that is suppose to be good for your joint health and general well being!
This couldn’t have come at a better time. Most of the trip I felt like a cold was coming on, my immune system just felt super low. I think this was just due to lack of sleep, lack of water, and traveling on planes, trains, and
automobiles buses where germs are easily spread. But Budapest was such a healing place for me. Partly because we weren’t rushing around, and partly because we were able to spend time relaxing in the baths. It’s hard to explain what exactly the baths were, and I didn’t get any pictures because you leave your belongings in a locker. It was basically a big, warm pool, with a building surrounding it, so no one on the street can see in. I don’t remember exact pricing, but you pay for like an hour of time in the facility, and you can bop between the baths, and the sauna, which of course we did. I left feeling so rejuvenated.
On our walk home we stopped to watch ice skaters in the city park, Varosligeti Mujegpalya. This was also near Hosok Tere, which is a major landmark in Budapest.
After we walked home we searched for places to eat that were near us, and we ended up finding an Indian restaurant with fantastic reviews. Though a part of me hated not eating traditional Hungarian food, I will admit that the Indian restaurant was probably the best Indian I’ve ever had. After dinner we stopped to pick up some wine (yes, I had a drink every single day of this trip, judge all you want), and go back to crash. The bed in this apartment was probably the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on. I think the floor would have been better. On top of that, the apartment itself smelled like mildew. But remember how I said we booked this for the washing machine? Well Hungarian washing machines are terribly confusing, and I couldn’t figure out how in the hell this thing worked. There were no words, just icons, but icons that made no sense. I googled, and googled, and watched videos, and had no luck. Then I decided to do a trial run with towels instead of my own clothes which was a really good idea since they came out sopping wet. So I had no luck on the laundry front, but needed to wash my clothes, so I washed them all in the sink and hung them out to dry. The one positive thing they had were heated towel dryers, so I could speed up the drying time!
The next morning we set out to meet a fellow traveler, my friend’s friend who happened to be making a stop in Budapest on his way to Berlin. We met him at a cafe for lunch, and I had traditional Hungarian goulash, which was house made noodles, with a beef simmered in a tomato base smothered over the noodles. It was so, so good. I had a spiked coffee with my meal, and my total was still under $10. After lunch we decided to do a boat tour, because 1) I love boats. 2) Budapest is separated by water, technically one side is Buda, and the other side is Pest, so it made sense to see the city in this way. 3) For $13 you got a boat ride, with a guided tour, and a free drink. The only downfall was that you are sitting inside, so you couldn’t get the best pictures, but that was okay by me, because I learned so much about Budapest by listening to the tour.
As I mentioned, before they merged, the Danube river split Buda from Pest. Buda is the hilly side, that sits up on the hill. So in any photo that is pointing up, that’s Buda, but if it’s pointing down or on even ground, that is overlooking Pest. After the boat ride, we crossed the change bridge from Pest, to walk up to a scenic overlook in Buda.
Looking at these pictures still takes my breath away. It also really makes me want to travel back to Budapest. Prior to my trip the place people talked about the most was Budapest, everyone kept telling me how much I was going to love it. And I really did. However I can’t fully explain why. It’s just a feeling you get while there. Everyone should go at some point in their life!
To end the night we went to a ruin pub. One of the weirdest, saddest, but coolest parts about Budapest was the ruin pubs. You would be walking down a street and see a pristine, beautiful building, and right next to it would be a broken down, abandoned mansion. Years ago people started fixing these buildings up to be clubs, and bars. We went to the most well known place, Szimpla Kert. Of course my camera had died, so I have zero pictures, but it would have actually been super hard to adequately capture the experience. I linked a google image search of the place to give a better idea. We had dinner here, but there were so many rooms and places to go. There was a smoking room, a wine room, a beer bar, etc. Definitely a must see if you ever go!
The next day was our last day, but we didn’t fly out until like 9pm so we had most of the day to say goodbye to Budapest. We decided to walk over to the Parliament building, and I learned on my boat tour that it is the third largest Parliament building in the world.
After Parliament, we had our last Hungarian meal, and packed up. Yet again I am going to stress how cheap everything was. I had a stew, with a fancy coffee drink, followed by creme brulee, and my total was around ten dollars. And the quality of everything was always superb!
We got an uber to take us to the airport, which was super stressful. The airport was a long drive out of town. Our driver did not speak any English (not that he needed to, after all I was the foreigner), but he couldn’t understand where we were trying to go. I typed in airport to google maps, and where it brought us was an old, deserted airport. We stayed in the car, and tried to map it again. Thankfully we found the correct airport, and we were off on our next adventure, Paris. Which was a complete and utter shit show! Stay tuned!
Favorite Parts of Budapest:
- Transportation was a breeze. Easy trains, loved having access to uber.
- The food. I know I say that for every post, but Hungarian cuisine was definitely my favorite, especially since it was winter, a warm stew was just the best!
- How inexpensive everything was, I never felt an ounce of guilt for buying anything. They also accept the euro or their own currency, forint. This was nice because we didn’t have to take out a bunch of forint, we could just use the euro we already had.
- The scenery. Everything was so beautiful. And the preservation and creativity within the ruin pubs was so outstanding.
- Cafe Frei, because it deserves it’s own bullet point.
Would I go there again?
- Absolutely! I look at airfare to Budapest almost weekly. I would love to go in the fall or spring.