Fun fact: Budapest was rated #18 by the Telegraph in Best Places to Live, and #1 in my heart.
Much like my exposure to Copenhagen, learning about Budapest started in… 3rd grade? I think? My memory is way hazier on this one. I remember we read a book about WWII, but I couldn’t tell you the name. Plot wise, I recall a girl realizing the war had led to starving zoo animals, and deciding to feed the animals with straw rugs and hats, and got other people to donate them too. That’s about all I got. If any of this rings a bell, please let me know. It’s kind of starting to bug me.
Nonetheless, it was a beautiful weekend in the city. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky the entire time we were there, just blue skies and sunshine.
Getting to Budapest was it’s own challenge, mostly because I’m an impatient mess and sitting on a train for 8 hours nearly did me in. I got through an entire season of “Master of None” during the trip if that tells you anything.
But once we checked into our hostel, we all realized we were in the best freaking location in all of Budapest and possibly Earth. Just 30 steps away was the street food fair, where dreams are created. For $4, I had an ungodly amount of absolutely killer bolognese. I returned two more times for burgers and breaded cheese, and uh, in my excitement/hunger, forgot to photograph it.
Right next store is Szimpla Kert, the most famous ruin bar in Budapest.
Culture Trip explains it better than I can, “Back in 2004, a run down building on Kazinczy Street in District VII was saved from demolition by a group of entrepreneurs looking to open up a bar/community space. Rather than redeveloping they chose to work with the building’s ramshackle state, adding quirky furniture and decorations, creating a mix’n’match aesthetic and making use of a space otherwise destined for ruin.
The venture was a success and provided the template for a new generation of bars. The ruin pub was born, with Budapest’s Jewish District district the focal point for this new nightlife trend. Buildings in varying states of decay were rescued and, rather than being totally renovated, ruin bars worked with their natural surroundings to create quirky and unique spaces. Accessories such as bathtubs, giant owls and even cars were added, with each bar creating their own style.”
And styled, it is…
Next morning was the city tour. We started with the largest synagogue in Europe.
Followed by a stop at the market.
See the orange juice I’m holding? It was just… so fresh. I couldn’t believe it.
We also checked out the Basilica of St. Stephen, and Budapest’s shopping street.
A quick break for lunch led us to Gerbeaud. I had to scroll through my bank statements cause I could not for the life of me remember what this bakery paradise was called. Their dessert menu alone was intimidating.
Next, we took a trip through the Parliament building. It was stunning. I took way too many pictures. I’m sorry, it was so cool.
We got up close and personal with the Holy Crown (and even saw the changing of the guards), but they’re very strict about not allowing photos or videos. Again, I’m sorry, it was so cool.
The evening led us to Margaret Island, so I can now check “find a place with my name” off of my bucket list. It was so pretty, especially as the sun was setting.
Aren’t those sunsets gorgeous? I swear, every evening in Budapest was just so, so picturesque.
The next morning honestly left me feeling more relaxed than I had in awhile. We visited the famous thermal spas, but made a quick detour to Hero’s Square first.
The spa itself was beyond peaceful. I want to find something like this when I get home. It was just so nice to chill with the other students, take in the gorgeous day, and relax.
In addition to the main thermal pool, there’s saunas, massage rooms and more. It’s bliss.
After a quick lunch, we set off to the Buda Castle. Having visited Prague Castle more times than is socially acceptable at this point, I felt like I knew what was coming.
I was wrong. Of course I was.
Budapest has a Castle District. That’s how hardcore this place is and I love every square inch of it. We began at Matthias Church. I feel like I’ve visited 10,000 churches since I got to Europe, and this one still managed to take my breath away.
There was a lookout point nearby. It’s called Fisherman’s Bastion and shows you basically the best view of Budapest. I practically sprinted up the steps.
I had a few minutes, so I started wandering around. Everywhere I looked, I saw someplace wonderful.
We took a delightful, tree-lined stroll to Buda Castle, and folks, it really is as far from Prague Castle as one can get. I adore both, but… look at it.
Returning across the bridge had left us hungry for Hungarian food. So we took a beautiful stroll through Budapest at night, to Cafe Drum, where cheap goulash, bread and sponge cakes awaited us!
We also stopped by a local art gallery, and almost walked away with the entire exhibit. (If only our luggage wasn’t so small…)
On our last morning, we were given free range to do what we wanted. And I wanted to go to Gelert Hill. Badly. Despite the time crunch, I was off.
It was magnificent. The fog had barely lifted. It was so stunning.
At least until… Google Maps stopped working and I realized I was in a remote area of a country whose language I didn’t speak running low on time to spare.
So… I hopped in the first bus I saw and hoped things would start looking familiar.
When they didn’t, I started worrying, and turned to the gentleman next to me and asked he spoke any English, because I was very lost. It took a matter of seconds for me to be surrounded by people, all trying their best to help me get back to my hostel.
Have I mentioned how much I love Budapest?
Anyways, they determined I was on the right bus in the wrong direction. Wanna guess how many stops I was off? You’re wrong, it’s more.
19. 19 stops.
I got back with enough time to stroll around the area and grab a pastry before saying farewell to this beautiful city. I didn’t want to leave, there was still so much I wanted to do and see.
I seem to be saying this a lot, but Budapest, wait for me. I’ll be back soon.