Thursday February 28th: Kelly, Zara, Caroline, and I all had dinner at Fajitas, a TexMex restaurant that… will have to do. Haha it was pretty great, but obviously nothing will compare to TexMex from Texas. We discuss our trip the next day, and we booked taxis from our houses to the bus station, and Zara looked on with sadness as she realized she was about to miss out on a cool trip haha. We snagged some froyo before heading home.
My taxi showed up at 4:45, and then I got to the bus station at 5:20. Caroline and I bought our bus tickets and waited for Kelly. We got on our bus to get out of the cold, and then it filled up, so Kelly had to take the next one. We all arrived at Beauvais and then walked to our terminal, waited in a bunch of different lines, I had the honor of being patted down durng security, then we sat on the floor and waited for our boarding call. I had a momentary panic as I struggled to locate my passport, which put us at the end of the boarding line, and it’s free for all seating, so we thought we might be done for. But they regulate the seating and make you fill up from the back to the front, and we all got to sit together near the front!
I got chicken nuggets haha they were amazing. They were a condolence snack, since it’s almost impossible to get comfy on a Ryanair flight.
We arrived, exchanged our euros to forinths, the local Hungarian currency, and then went to meet our “Happy Hostel” ride that we paid for. When we arrived there was a bit of a shock as it was “trash day”, the one day a year Budapest takes out everything they don’t want anymore from their basement and the government will haul it away for free. All the old furniture, dirty clothes, and broken basement remnants piled up around the sidewalks contributed to a strange feeling we had about the location we had chosen. There were no apparent signs indiciating a hostel was inside, and he punched a code as we entered an expanisve and abandoned stone courtyard that showed us a small patch of blue sky. For a second, Caroline and I looked at each other and thought it might be the last time we would see the sky, as the hostel owner ushered us quickly into a back corner of the courtyard towards a gated door. He unlocked the gate and then the door and we entered a small mudroom: “Take off your coats”. Uh no, we’re good, thanks. He left to pick up someone else from the airport but left us with his assistant manager. Let me be clear – I’m pretty sure this hostel had two rooms, ours included, and maybe 2 or 3 employees. But the room was huge, with a loft where the bunk bed and single bed were located, and below a closed off bathroom with a shower, washing machine, toliet, sink, mirror, and cabniet space. Plus a table, chairs, kitchen, couch, TV, closet, and huge mirror on the entirety of one wall… All for 16 euros a night! It wasn’t the best location in the city but it was central enough and so much room and privacy for so little money! Anyway, the assistant manager sat us down and went over a city map with us, circling tons of areas and speaking quickly about different things to see all across the city. We didn’t really remember what any of the circles meant haha but it was good to know what sights were essential to see. The manager returned and then they told us the security codes and gave us the keys. We arranged for a car back to the airport early Sunday morning. We told him how much forinth we had, and he told us that was “nothing”. We paid for our room, the transport both ways, and then went to go find an ATM and an exchange location. They gave us a coupon for 10% off a meal at this place called Bali Cafe, so we traipsed around until we found it and we ordered two of the “must-try” Hungarian dish: goulash. It’s a delicious soup with spicy broth, carrots, potatoes, and fall-apart-slow-roasted beef. Easily (to date) my favorite dish I’ve had abroad. Then I had butter noodles with paprika chicken. Paprika is a national treasure, harvested and cultivated to perfection on several levels of sweet, hot, and savory. After we finished our late lunch, it was already almost 4pm. We walked along the river, crossed the famous chain bridge, over to to “Buda” half of Budapest. We spent the majority of our time there on the “Pest” half of the city. They used to be separate cities, but in 1873 they decided to unite the two halves across the Danube. The Buda side ascends almost immediately into mountain, the location of many of the major sites of the city: The Liberty Statue, Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, and more. We navigated our way up to the top of Fisherman’s Bastion, which guards Matthias Church. The view was amazing, and the whole structure was layered and beautifully crafted, an impressive feat for something built with defense as the sole purpose. Gleaming white, the seven turrets shone as dusk fell on the Danube. We walked back across the bridge, and then scoped out a dessert place, where we tried some local Hungarian pastries. I got something that looked like a slice of a Christmas log, which wasn’t my cup of tea, and then something chocolate, which, of course, was exactly my cup of tea. We went back to our hostel, ate our lunch leftovers, planned out our Saturday, and promptly passed out.
We woke up early, went to the same pastry place, and Caroline and I got the same cinnamon pastry, it was large, semi-hollow and semi-tough but so so delicious. We got another one to split, and the three of us journeyed towards St. Stephens Basilica. It was so beautiful inside and outside, and probably my favorite sight in Budapest. We spent a little time inside and outside in the square in front of it, and then we raced off towards the Parliament building to catch the 10am tour. We missed the tour but we walked around the back and enjoyed the view from up close. Construction prevented us from walking around to the front, but we saw the phenomenal view of the front from across the river. A government building water-adjacent has to make the work less dreary. We made our way back across the river and up Castle Hill again to see Buda Castle, and after many pictures and a windy return to the main road, we set off alongside the river to the green bridge, where we crossed back into Pest. We went to Central Market Hall, a vast two story indoor market, mostly food (raw form or basic ingredients) and spices on the bottom floor, an advanced form of grocery shopping, and the second floor was mostly souvenirs, clothes, and food to buy and eat right away. We ate traditional Hungarian street food called lángos and they were messy but amazing. I had cheese, chicken, and onions, and after we all had a savory one, we got a sweet one to share. Messy, crazy, and delicious. Then we walked around and bought some souvenirs. Then we took a much-needed nap at the hostel, and regrouped to go to the baths. We walked for about an hour and we arrived at Hero’s Square just as the sun was setting. The Szenchenyi Baths were right behind the square, and after receiving our watch locker keys, we changed into our sports bras and shorts (substitute for bathing suits) and charged out into the cold and plunged into an outdoor bath. We made our way through the indoor baths next, varying in size and temperatures, and then we ended in a steam room, which was awesome. We changed back and returned our keys, trying to smooth out hair as we prepared to go to dinner. We got some goulash (again, the highlight of the meal), and some strange dessert. We went back to our hostel, packed and then hit the hay.
Our driver was ready at 3:30am, and we got to the airport and through security with plenty of time. Tons of people were milling about, and all of the food places were open. I snagged some KFC while Caroline and Kelly opted for the more traditional coffee and pastry breakfast. I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep on the plane, to no avail. It’s a next to impossible feat on Ryanair planes. We took the bus from Beavais back to the city, and then the metro home, so I got home at 11:30am. I tried to nap but was by then too awake, so I met Melissa at Sacre Coeur, where we caught up, enjoyed the GORGEOUS sunshine. We sat on the steps and listened to the impromptu concert going on in front of us, where random spectateurs could join in the main performer. There was also a man doing soccer tricks as he climbed on top of a light pole. It was an amazing afternoon.
All in all, such an interesting weekend with amazing sights and a country I never thought I would visit. Hungary, you’re alright. <3
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Callie Summers, and I am a 20 year old junior studying Marketing and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Taking photos, writing, discovering new music are all among my favorite activities, right next to spending the majority of my time with my amazing Gamma Phi sisters and friends. I have an affinity for Thai food, candy, and Shirley Temples, but I cannot wait to try different foods from Paris and the surrounding areas. Full of wanderlust, my goal is to travel the world and live abroad doing what I love. I would love to share my experiences in Paris with you! Check out my blog and feel free to leave comments or contact me!</span></p>