Overall cost of trip: $200 CAD
I really couldn’t have asked for a better week: I celebrated my 21st birthday, Drake dropped his new album Views, and I spent the weekend in Budapest with my cousin Steph, and 2 of my friends, Taylor and Jill! Budapest has had to be one of my most anticipated trips thus far on my exchange. It has such a rich history, I couldn’t wait to explore with good company. It is nicknamed, “Paris of the East,” “Pearl of the Danube,” and “City of Spas,” so it did not seem like it could be a disappointment.
On Friday, Jill, Taylor, and I set out for Budapest. We usually use FlixBus when travelling to different countries, but this time we (unfortunately) tried to ball on a budget and take Orangeway Bus. We left Krems to head to Vienna to catch the bus, and arrived about 45 minutes early. Typically, the bus to Budapest from Vienna is a little over 3 hours. Except for us…the bus was over 45 minutes late. In addition to our bus being late, it also broke down! Once we reached Hungary, our bus driver pulled to the side into a truck stop, and we waited several hours for someone to come and fix the gas tank. We were supposed to arrive in Budapest at 6 pm, but ended up arriving before 11pm. Kind of disappointed that we lost our evening, but we were excited for the weekend ahead!
Budapest is made up of two parts- Buda and Pest. We stayed on the Pest side, which is known to be more of the lively side, with more of a nightlife and more historic things to see. FUN FACT: Pest is pronounced PeSHt. Pronouncing it like it is spelled makes you stand out like suuuuuuuuch an obvious tourist. The Buda side is more a nature and green atmosphere. Compared to Pest, Buda is very hilly, and there’s a lot more hiking to do. That is also where a majority of the museums are located, like the Hungarian National Museum and Budapest History Museum.
Saturday morning, Stephanie arrived from her business trip in Krakow, Poland, and we set out to explore Budapest. We had planned to walk around, and then spend the afternoon at one of the thermal baths. Budapest is called “The City of Baths,” so obviously, it made sense to check it out. I chose Szechenyi Bath, which is not only the largest and oldest in Budapest, but in all of Europe! Szechenyi had 18 baths, 3 which are outside. Each one of the baths has something special about it. It is also the most visited bath in Budapest, so it had to be a good time.
A little on the history…
“Szechenyi Spa Baths is in the biggest green park of Budapest, in the City Park, close to a bunch of Budapest attractions. The Neo-baroque palace was specifically built for hosting Szechenyi Baths as Hungary has been the country of baths (and Budapest the City of Baths) for many centuries: starting with the Roman settlers who built the first spa baths, through the 16th century Turkish occupiers who built many of the famous and revived Turkish baths in Budapest to the 19-20th century natural medical trends that promote aqua therapies and their deeply beneficial effects. The beautiful building of the spa baths is the design of Gyozo Czigler (Győző Czigler) who started to build Szechenyi Furdo in May 1909.”
For the full day, it was 18 euros, which was completely worth it. We had lunch before, so we had a beer while we were there and we were set for the day! We really lucked out with amazing weather, and I unfortunately have the sunburn to prove. But I think even going in the winter would be a really cool experience. I’ve seen pictures of my friends going to Budapest this year, and it did not seem nearly as packed as when we were there. This bath also had a pool party at night, which was a little more expensive. It would be fun to see how different the atmosphere and vibe would be at night, and it being a little cooler as well. They play loud music and pools light up!
Here’s a guide to the baths in Budapest: http://www.bathsbudapest.com/ and here’s a more thorough explanation to the bath I went to: http://szechenyispabaths.com/
Saturday night, sunburned and all, we got ready and went for dinner and drinks in town. Hungarian cuisine is quite rich, but delicious! Everywhere East you go, there is Goulash, which has come to be the go to meal when travelling. Every country also has a different twist to it, and not to be bias or anything, but Austria (so far) does it best!
A majority of the meat dishes in Hungary are rich stews, and the main seasoning is paprika. It was noticeable even in the souvenir shops that they had huge decorative bags of paprika for gifts too. One of the desserts we had to try was called Kurtoskalacs… in other words, they’re called Chimney’s, which are now sold in Toronto! They are the most delicious, probably the worst food for you, but hey, when on vacation, right? Right.
We then ventured off to bask in the Budapest nightlife. With no real direction as to where we were going (and no wifi,) we followed the flashing lights and found ourselves on a street called Dob Utca. This was really cool- It was basically an alley way in between apartment buildings, and the main floors were pubs and restaurants, all with music blaring and lights flashing! It was so crowded with people, it was such a weird find. One minute, we were on a quiet street, and the next we stumbled across this hidden party scene. We had a beer and took in the atmosphere, giving us enough time to get some wifi and find our next destination. Budapest nightlife is really well known, especially for their Ruin pubs.
Ruin pubs are the remnants of the communist era in Budapest. We walked over the Szimpla Kert, which is rated the best bar in the world. Yeah, you read that right. In the world! It had a very hipster vibe, with different music playing in different rooms, and on each floor. It was made up of cool art work, and objects hanging off the walls. It was more touristy than anything, as I heard way more English than ever before in a European bar. I HIGHLY recommend going here. It was so much fun. It’s open during the day too for a beer! Check out the website: http://www.szimpla.hu/
The next morning, we woke up and went on a tour of the city. Free Walking Tours is a company that holds tours in major European cities. Again, highly recommended, as you see parts of the city you wouldn’t on a regular walk, and you learn really cool facts! I hope to do more of these tours in more cities I go to. It was good that we were able to see some of the city on our own, but at the end, see everything in perspective of a local. We visited places like Parliament, Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Shoe Memorial on the Danube. We visited the park and Heroes Square on Saturday on our way to the bath on Saturday.
Thus far, my trips have all last two full days without any regret of wanting to stay longer. This is the only trip that I wish I had so much more time. Budapest had so much to offer, and I’m so excited that I have the opportunity to go back this summer. The atmosphere was so much fun, and there were so many tourists who spoke English, that it was really comforting. I couldn’t have spent my 21st birthday any better.
Until my next adventure,