I’m not going to lie-I wasn’t extremely impressed with Budapest. I enjoyed my time there, but it’s definitely not at the top of my list of places to return. It was a beautiful city, much like most old cities in Europe are beautiful… That being said, there were definitely a few distinguishing features that should put Budapest on your list of places to travel.
It was interesting to learn about the history of Budapest and Hungary, because like the Czech Republic, it’s a part of the world that American history classes just brush over. Mike and I took a walking tour of the city and learned a lot of fun facts about Budapest and Hungary.
When we first arrived we met the owner of the Airbnb at which we stayed. It was my first experience using Airbnb and I was extremely impressed. The apartment was absolutely gorgeous and we were lucky to be able to stay there. Once we settled in we went out to find a grocery store–luckily Aldi was a two minute walk from the apartment. I always love grocery shopping in another country, because it’s so interesting to see what kind of foods they have and all the foreign brands.
After shopping and eating a lunch of sandwiches we relaxed until it was time to eat again. We walked around the area of the city our Airbnb host told us about until we eventually stopped and ate at the Slang Pub where I got a burger, fries, and a beer for around $7 (!!!!). After living in London for awhile we were absolutely blown away by the prices. After dinner we went to Szimpla, which is a ruin bar. One of the things Budapest is famous for is their ruin bars, which are buildings that were bombed in the various wars the city has gone through, and never restored. Bar owners reinforced the buildings, brought in local artists to decorate, and turned them into bar/clubs. It was probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. We explored a little, enjoyed the atmosphere, and watched some live music.
The next day Mike and I went on our walking tour, while Brenna and Garrett went on a cave tour. Mike and I met up with our friend Jenna (from Richmond) who joined us for the weekend. We walked around a market and then found a restaurant called Grill and Chips to sit and eat (they had the best lemonade that I’ve ever had.. It was chalk full of different types of fruits and the absolute bomb). The atmosphere of the restaurant was so strange, because the food was Italian and Hungarian, the vibe was hipster bar/cafe, and they were playing songs I danced to at Middle School dances… But I would go back just for the lemonade alone. That night we made dinner at the apartment and hung out until about midnight when we decided to go out. While I wasn’t completely supportive of the decision (I was so tired, and it was way past my bedtime), I was glad we did because we got to see a whole different side of the city–drunk. Maybe it’s just because I don’t go out often (actually it’s probably definitely because I don’t go out often), but I’ve never seen so many people incapacitatingly drunk. We went back to Szimpla and eventually made it home. The whole experience just solidified the saying my mom always says: “Nothing good happens after midnight.”
The next day we spent most of the afternoon at the thermal baths that Budapest is known for. It was such a nice day and as we sat in the baths in the sun it finally felt like spring break. We tried all the varying temperatures and then the saunas. After that we walked to the House of Terror, which was the headquarters of first the Nazis, then the Soviet Union. It’s now a museum that had an interesting vibe. Everything was in Hungarian, so it was hard to understand what was happening, but as we walked from room to room it felt like a mixture of modern art gallery and a museum. I kind of liked it. The craziest part was seeing the basement where the cells were. It’s hard to imagine that just 30 years ago or so people were trapped there.
That night we ate at the Slang Pub again (can’t beat beer for $1.70…) before we headed to the airport. Our flight wasn’t until the next morning at 6, but we didn’t want to spend pay for another night in the Airbnb, so we decided to sleep at the airport. Worst decision ever. It was so cold and bright and uncomfortable, that I spent the whole time praying that I would sleep so that the time would pass faster. Eventually we made it through security and to our gate only to find out that Mike had a ticket for the next day… So he had to spend another 24 hours in the airport… We threw everything he might need to him and hoped that he survived (he did). I then spent two hours trying to drown out the couple next to me making out loudly. Worst flight of my life. But I counted my blessings that I wasn’t stuck in the Budapest Airport for another 24 hours…
We arrived that afternoon back in London sleep deprived and hungry. The beginning and end of spring break were pretty rough, but it was such an amazing experience. Then we had 60 hours in London before we left for Ireland… So much traveling!