My first weekend traveling out of the Czech Republic, and there was absolutely no better person to do it with than the ultimate traveller herself, Karen. After flying in on a last minute whim, I was delighted to have my sister join me as we explored the Hungarian Capitol. We stayed in a nice private room right in the city center, and explored our way around the beautiful city for the whole weekend. The journey was quite exhausting honestly because we traveled on an 8 hour overnight bus that dropped us in the middle of nowhere at 5 am. Eventually, however we made our way to the hostel on the public transportation and were able to freshen up a bit before heading out to explore.
The Experience: We only had a few days to enjoy Budapest, so we choose to do the hop on hop off bus, a good way of seeing the city, learning some history, and enjoying the ride. The weather was nice, and every building so beautiful that I couldn’t put my camera down. Karen is the best travel buddy because she is very go with the flow, and we wandered a bit during the day before getting tired from our night journey and heading in for a short nap. Our first night we spent at the Budapest Castle, where a large wine festival was being held. It was such a great experience, because we got the change to get fancy and enjoy the beautiful views of the castle and from the castle. Before we headed up to the castle, we walked along the Danube River and appreciated the fantastic parliament building. The wine festival was no doubt my favorite part of the weekend, with live music, food, and lots of great wine stands. Eventually we got tired and headed back pretty early, in order to have a lot of energy for our second day in Budapest.
We woke up the second morning excited to explore the city. In an attempt to have a nice breakfast, we headed to the luxury district where the Ritz Carlton Budapest is, but ended up eating and grabbing coffee at Starbucks. We then did what we sisters do best, and shopped. Later we became starving and treated ourselves to a super nice and much needed brunch at a hotel along the waterfront. The Budapest money is very very confusing so we did not quite realize how much we were about to pay for a meal until it was too late. Despite this, it was very worth it, and it ended up being a nice place for us to take a break and for her to try to book a flight home. Although she had traveled to Prague for quite a steal, Karen had no flight home, and was left trying to make her way back before her new job started the next week. After stuffing ourselves at this brunch buffet, we wandered back to the hostel where we relaxed and Karen decided on a flight that would take her out of Vienna, rather than coming back with me to Prague the next day. With that situation finally settled, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of our time in Budapest. Of course, how better to enjoy a city than spending a second night at the grand wine festival. We had a bit of trouble finding the castle on this night, and ended up walking way farther than necessary. Luckily however, we made it and had a great time feeling fancy and appreciating the views, but mostly each others company.
On our last morning in Budapest, Karen and I were determined to make it to the baths that are a huge part of what makes Budapest so well known. These thermal springs date back as far as Roman times, and were a huge part of the culture in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. We chose to go to the Széchenyi Baths, which is one of the largest and most beautiful in the city. After waking up extremely early to ensure that we would make it to the baths early, and back in time to make my bus, we jumped on the public transportation around 6 am. It worked out very well that we arrived so early, because we paid a reduced fare, for the 6-8 time slot that worked out well for the time we would be there. It was so odd to see so many old people bathing, who clearly did this often and must have had some sort of a membership. The building was beautiful but very very confusing and Karen and I got lost a few times. Eventually, however we put our stuff in a locker and headed to one of the 15 baths from which we could choose. A lot of them were smaller, and so Karen and I decided to choose the large outside pool-like thermal bath. It was quite odd to enter such warm water, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves. After about 30 minutes however, we got a bit bored and decided to head on back and get breakfast. This concluded our time in Budapest, and I quickly packed up and made my way towards the bus station.
After it all, Budapest was definitely a weekend to remember! There were so many things that I loved about the city, and visiting with my sister made the experience so much better. The city itself is absolutely beautiful, however I would say that it is a bit more run down than Prague. Despite this, we had quite a luxurious trip and it was an amazing way to start my semester of adventures.