One of my biggest hopes of my study abroad experience was to visit a new country or city every weekend. I didn’t really care where, I just wanted to experience new cultures, languages, and landmarks - and for cheap. So, when two of my roommates asked if I wanted to go to Budapest with them for 60 Euros, I didn’t hesitate to say YES!
And I am so glad that I did. Even when we arrived at our Airbnb around 11:30pm, I knew I would fall in love with the city. Budapest is split into two halves, Buda and Pest, and are divided by the Danube river. Our apartment was located on the Pest side, right next to the river and along a main road, which was perfect for sightseeing. After a good night’s sleep, we set off to see as much as we could over the next two days. We started by visiting an amazing restaurant called Solinfo Café that served the world’s best scrambled eggs and fresh fruit parfaits. We stumbled upon the Budapest Eye ferris wheel, which gave us a good idea of where some of the larger landmarks were and gave us a great introduction to the city! We then ventured around three of the main attractions, which were St. Stephen’s Basilica, Buda Castle, and the famous Cable Bridge that officially joins Buda and Pest. It didn’t take long at the base of the giant Castle to find a bus service that would drop us off around the various landmarks, which made for some amazing sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We frolicked around the plaza where Katy Perry’s Firework music video was filmed and explored some incredible lookout points. We then rode to Fisherman’s Bastian, which proved to have some of the most beautiful photo backdrops that I have ever seen. After this long day of walking, we ate an amazing late lunch then, of course, took a siesta! Are we Spanish yet? Later that evening, we had a quick dinner then experienced the bustling Budapest nightlife that everyone raves about!
The next morning, we ate at that same café and headed to the House of Terror, which is as upsetting and dark as it sounds. We didn’t realize how much history Budapest has from the World Wars. This museum’s building was once the Hungarian Nazi Headquarters and was the site of imprisonment and torture of Hungarian Jews. As fascinating as it was, we left feeling heavy hearted at the incomparable losses countries such as Hungary had faced during that harrowing time in history. We continued our Holocaust tour by visiting the Shoes on the Danube. These are sculptures that represent Hungarian Jews who were lined up along the river, asked to remove their shoes, and executed at the start of the German occupation of Hungary.
In an attempt to lighten our moods, we walked around the Hungarian parliament building which is absolutely gorgeous. It is hard for me to fathom that people who are from cities with such rich history and architecture are able to look at these beautiful buildings at any given moment. You sure don’t see sights like these back in the United States! Afterward, we crossed off an item that should be on every European traveler’s bucket list: thermal baths. We decided to go to the Gellèrt Baths, which had pools outside and inside. They were quite interesting. The building was beautiful and the baths were cleansing and relaxing after walking so much for the last couple of days. However, they were really crowded so we didn’t end up staying too long. Unfortunately, it began to rain as we made our way out of the Gellert building, so our tour of Budapest had to come to an end.
If anyone reading this has ever thought of visiting Budapest, I would tell them to book a flight as soon as possible! I absolutely adored this city: the astounding architecture, rich food, and accessibility were unlike any other places I have visited, and I truly felt at home the second I arrived. One weekend was truly not enough, and I can’t wait to go back someday! Now it’s back to the real world: Spanish classes, siestas, and tapas!