After the Ten Day Trip I took a weekend off before heading off on the next adventure: my first weekend trip! My friend Lisa and I were both looking forward to visiting Budapest, so we knew that HAD to be our first destination. Since our only class on Fridays is morning German, we left Friday afternoon. The bus ride is just about three hours, so after we arrived we had enough time to grab dinner and head to Gellert Hill to see both a beautiful night view of the city and the Liberty Statue, which was reclaimed and changed from a Soviet monument to a memorial for all those who gave their lives for Hungary. In the evening we visited Instant, one of Budapest’s famous ruin bars. Though the décor was cool and the music was great, the atmosphere just wasn’t very inviting.
The maps we received from the hostel advertised “free walking tours,” by a tour group that led visitors through the city as a tip based service. We figured this would be a great way to get to know the city a little better, and joined them the next morning. This turned out to be a great idea – the guides were super personable, and gave a ton of historical background about the city. Definitely one of the best walking tours I have taking thus far!
That evening one of the guys in the hostel invited us to join him and a group of other people from the hostel to go to Szimpla, one of the most famous Ruin Bars. It was quite possibly the coolest thing ever – we ended up in this shabby bar with a group made up of people from all over the world. I shared a bathtub transformed into a couch with two people, while surrounded by walls filled with scrawls revealing the names and homestowns of countless past visitors. We all talked and drank, and eventually hit the dance floor. There we met a British bachelor’s party, who joined us for the night. We danced until the club closed, and the next day the hostel group exchanged information so that we could keep in contact. It was an absolutely surreal night! Though this bar was also pretty touristy, the atmosphere was much more friendly and pleasant than that of the one we had been to the night before.
Before we even got home Lisa started having stomach problems, and as I laid down to sleep I began experiencing the same (meaning that sleep did not actually occur). The next morning we realized that it must have come from the dinner we had had the night before… I guess that is just part of the traveling experience! Luckily, we were still able to have a great morning, and got to see the things we still had planned before our afternoon bus took us back to Vienna. Our first stop of the morning was Hero’s Square, and an adorable market that happened to be taking place just across the bridge. We wandered through the market before hurrying on to visit the Shoe Memorial. The Shoe Memorial remembers the Jews who were lined up along the shores of the Danube during World War II and were forced to remove their shoes before being shot and falling in the river, because the shoes were seen as having more worth than these people’s lives. It was extremely powerful, and I absolutely recommend visiting it.
Budapest was a gorgeous city, and we came home with some great stories. Definitely a fantastic way to spend the weekend, and a must see when in the area!
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<p>Fionna studies Anthropology and Molecular Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Though she is originally from the Netherlands, she has spent the last ten or so years in California. Her free time is spent reading, horseback riding, nerding out about television shows, hiking, and dreaming of future travels and adventures. She is looking forward to spending her spring semester enjoying the life and culture in Vienna, Austria and the surrounding countries. </p>