Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Budapest, Hungary

My trip to Budapest was one trip I knew was going to take me a very long time to blog about. Going into the weekend, I had huge expectations for Budapest. For most people in my program, it was the first trip they went on and everyone kept saying they had the greatest time. Since my friends and I booked our trip to Budapest for late to mid March, we were expecting to have an even better time with nice weather. Unfortunatly the weather stayed cold in Europe til mid April, and I ended up getting sick over the weekend. I put off blogging because come Monday it was midterms week and I wasn't feeling great at all, so I knew my blog post may come off a little more negative than my experience actually was. So three months later (oops), here are some of the highlights and (downsides) of my trip to Budapest!

The Hungarian baths
  • The good: We had been warned by Lauren's room mates that the outdoor pools weren't as hot as a Jacuzzi, but the fact that we could run out of the locker room and into the pool in our bikinis and not freeze in the water meant that it was warm enough for us. The bath was beautiful with marble everywhere and in the center there was a circle area where everyone ran inside. You took one step in the circle and the current picked you up and rushed you around. We all had to grab on to the edges to attempt to break the cycle and get out, and had a lot of fun watching some of us miss the exit over and over.
  • The bad: The theme of this weekend was poor preparation. While we weren't cold in the baths (which is saying a lot because it was absolutely freezing outside), we weren't warm. It wasn't until a month later we all found out that the bath we had been in, wasn't actually the hot bath everyone was talking about. It is a little disappointing, and I'm kicking myself for 1) not researching anything and 2) not braving one extra minute in the cold to check for more baths.
  • The ugly: Nothing! The baths were beautiful, and gave me the exotic feeling I kept looking for throughout the weekend. Even with a little confusion, the hot baths were the best part of the trip there, and were so much fun. Plus we were comfortable the whole time (minus the sprint from the pool to inside the building, but that was fun it its own way too).

Ruins Bars
  • The good: The ruin bars were the most random bars you've ever seen. Thursday night we went to the bar that some guys on the bus suggested, and had a really great and relaxed night. From bath tubs converted into chairs to writing on the walls to nets hanging down from the ceiling, this bar was really cool. We also saw the people we recognized from the bus (US students from Prague in a different program), and said hi. Although I would loose my voice later that night and had a sneaking suspicion I might be getting pink eye, I felt great and had a good time. On Friday (Saturday?), we went to another ruin bar by our hostel called Instant. It was a little less eccentric decoration--although, it did have a revolving life size pig sculpture that was covered in glitter--and more of a club with lots of random rooms to dance in. We went with some guys from Holland that Lauren and Sami met in the Wombats bar, and spent a few hours there before heading back.
  • The bad: Sick. So, so sick. I couldn't talk or where makeup besides the layers and layers of lipstick I put on (I saw in a magazine look that new dramatic look is nude eyes with dark lips so I pretended that's what I was doing haha).
  • The ugly:  Ate kebabs while waiting in the line for Instant. If you've got pink eye and stuck with semi annoying Holland guys, you don't care about looking too cute anymore. But Thursday night was a pretty ideal night out, and both ruin bars were a lot of fun. Under normal circumstances, I might have wished we would have gone out more (like in Berlin), but for that weekend it was perfect.
Budapest Free Walking Tour
  • The good: We got to see a lot of Budapest. This was my first trip (and I think everyone else too) where I wasn't with someone who had lived or been to the place before (Scott lives in Copenhagen, has been to Brussels, and our program took us on a very well organized trip to Krakow). We didn't know where to go, what we should see, or even how we should go see it. Taking a free walking tour was the best way to cover the city from Pest (by our hostel) to the castle and church at Buda. Part of the three hour walking tour also included walking over the Chain bridge which was extremely windy. While the rest of my friends hated it, I got my usual little thrill from walking across bridges (I guess I studied abroad in the perfect place. I never got sick of the Charles bridge in Prague). The best part was after the tour when we were too cold to walk the 45 minutes back, we found a restaurant and ordered banana hot chocolates that were amazing. After warming up, we re-examined Matthias church where we ended and thought that the area was the prettiest place we saw in Budapest so far. It's colored roof was phenomenal and the architecture and river views were great photo ops.
  • The bad: Cold. It was probably the coldest weekend in March and very windy. The tour was a necessity, but the weather (and my now definite pink eye and lack of voice) did not mix. Also, it didn't include a very important sight seeing area, and we didn't do our research so we never went (our fault though--we didn't even know it existed until I heard about it in class).
  • The ugly: Our tour was led by a terrible tour guide. While she was enthusiastic, she took forever in getting out what she wanted to say and even when she did, it usually wasn't any actual information or interesting. Since it was already freezing and windy, having an uninteresting tour guide made the tour pretty miserable. Not to mention she had some pretty gross habits we had to see for the next half hour. On a separate note, all other Hungarian people we saw and met were very friendly and attractive. We just got bad luck.

    on the bridge

Wombats Hostel
  • The good: It was my first hostel experience, and we got a 5 person room since there were 5 of us traveling. It was very clean, and we each got our own key and locker (big deal). The employees were really cute and nice, and helped write down what to say in Hungarian when we were looking for eye drops. Everyone gets a free drink ticket, so it was really easy to meet all the young people at the hostel bar. It was very central in Budapest, and I really think that every hostel should model their selves after this one. Not to mention it was only around $15 a night!
  • The bad: No complaints here.
  • The ugly: Out of all five of us, none of us looked up directions to the hostel. Once got off the bus at 9:30 pm, we realized we had no idea where to go. Luckily we found friends, got on the metro station (after looking everywhere for an ATM), and made it to our hostel.
  • The good: The magical chocolate croissant. Anyone who has heard anything about my trip to Budapest knows about this croissant I ate. In this tea shop/bakery/cafĂ© next to our hostel, I ordered some fruit tea and a bland omelet. It was nothing special, but on our way to pay we saw a tray of 6 croissants on a cooling rack. They were steaming and they smelled so good, that three of us spontaneously bought ourselves one each. It was doughier than most croissants and the chocolate was half melted so it wasn't messy but still warm and in every bite. My friend Diana still hasn't eaten a single other chocolate croissant because she says nothing will ever compare. I could eat a million more and not feel guilty about it at all. Ok now that I spent a paragraph talking about it, the other main food (besides some other good dinners) was kebabs. They are essentially the fast food of Europe, and the kebab shops in Budapest were absolutely amazing. I already miss them so much. They were cheap (and Budapest was fairly cheap already), and I don't think anything in the US will compare.
    Google image, but here's a kebab in all it's glory
Other events
  • Market: Indoor market that was fun to look around with food on the first floor and shops on the second with mainly souvenir and kitschy stuff. Luckily souvenir window shopping is my and my groups favorite activity, so we had fun running around all the booths.

  • Boat cruise: We had a little extra time to kill before our bus back on Sunday, so we decided to take a boat cruise. We ran back to the hostel to grab some extra layers, bought a cup of hot wine, and had our last sightseeing trip. It felt like a good way to end because we had been meaning to see the extravagant Parliament building that the Hungarians are really proud of and the boat took us right by it.

    too cold for company

So there's my Budapest trip--the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was a great trip, and definitely a good learning experience. After the trip, I never went anywhere without looking up sights and things to do on tripadvisor and making sure someone knows where we are going. I also made it a point never to travel without my eye drops once I got a bottle in Prague. But Budapest was still a great trip with some really fun people!

No comments:

Post a Comment