Budapest was insanely great…mostly due to our hostel and the people at it. The hostel we stayed at was a recommendation from my friend (Meghan) who we stayed with in France. It was called Hi5 Hostel and the staff there were just the best. They were all our age, from Australia, ridiculously welcoming, and the best pub crawl leaders we could have asked for. I want to go back right now and I actually get sad whenever Budapest is brought up. Not to mention, the group we were traveling with was the biggest yet: Taylor, Streeter, Mimi, and Olivia (the crew from Greece), plus Dani and Roxy (we met Dani at our hostel in Dublin and she’s from UW Madison!).
On Saturday, we headed out of Bergamo, Italy (blog to come later) and made our way to the Milan Airport. It was actually raining for the first time since we left Ireland, so we nearly made it two whole weeks with absolutely wonderful and apparently uncharacteristic heat and sunshine. I rigged up this fashionable poncho backpack cover that worked quite well and we made it through security once again. Our flight went very smoothly and we landed in Budapest in the evening. We made our way to the hostel, they staff showed us around a bit and brought us to our room and then we headed to the grocery store which was overwhelming. At least with French and Italian you can make an educated guess as to what something says…not Hungarian. So I bought some vegetables, noodles, and sauce and decided not to gamble on the mystery meat. We headed back to our place, got situated a little, cooked up some dinner, and got ready to go out. The hostel was really different from all others we’ve been at because it was incredibly easy to meet other guests and the large staff (they all live there), and that in itself really made Budapest what it was. We went out that night with the crew and loved it.
On Sunday, our suite-mate nieghbors arrived…3 guys from Florida. They were super nice and they also had a girl who was traveling by herself from California and we were able to get to know her as well. A nice little combination of people. We headed out on Sunday to meet up with a walking tour around Budapest. It ended up being a little long, but very informative and free (only tips) like always. So we were able to get associated with the city a bit more and hear about a few key phrases and places to go that would help us along the way. At the end of the tour we were all ridiculously thirsty, so Mimi, Taylor, and I go into a grocery store and buy some refreshing water. Only to find out that a blue cap means sparkling (aka disgusting water that is unchuggable and tastes like flat soda). So that was a fail. After the tour we headed to this little stand that sold Langos (Lang-gosh), a Hungarian specialty. Basically a deep-fried dough (similar to a chimichanga shell), flat like a pizza with toppings. Mine was topped with sour cream, shredded cheese (not melted), ham, and red onions. It seemed to be the most popular. That night we hung out with the hostel staff once again and headed out for the night. Crazy night once again, but great nonetheless.
Monday was bath day. We headed out to the place to be in Budapest, the Szechenyi Bath and Spa. It was wonderful. The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and warm. There was a nice little whirl pool in the center of one of the outdoor baths. If you’re having a bad day, I’ve decided that all you have to do is go people watch at the whirlpool. It has jets that make it really quick and people just fly around in a circle. Not to get obnoxiously corny, but it’s really a cool thing when everyone (regardless of background/culture/age/gender) can have fun together and mutually enjoy a fun little whirlpool. The two baths outside were warm. One was actual bath temp (My mother would have claimed that it felt like swimming in pee), but I thought it was just perfect. And the other bath was like a hot tub, but the size of a ginormous swimming pool. So fun. After spending a whole day at the baths, we headed back to the hostel and made some dinner. Then, not to break tradition, we played some games with the group, and headed out for the night. Monday night was karaoke (sorry to disappoint you Dad), I went…and sang with a group. Hope you can still welcome me back home with open arms. Needless to say, it was a successful day and night.
Tuesday was our last full day in Budapest. We were originally planning on caving, but we found out the night before that there was no caving on Tuesdays, even though it said there was online. So that was a disappointment, but we still had a wonderful day. We roamed about the city. Headed to an indoor market where I bougth and awesome souvenir for 500 Forint (crazy hard currency to wrap your head around), but that’s less than 2 euro. And it’s the best souvenir ever. There’s no way I can explain how funny/fun it is without sounding ridiculous, so here goes. It’s a wooden paddle with 4 chickens on it and their heads bop up and down “eating food off the paddle” as the holder of the paddle spins a hanging ball around. They are controlled like a puppet is with strings. Just believe me, it’s the best toy I’ve seen. Ever. After the market we checked out a nearby synagogue. We made our way to a tea house called the Green Turtle where I had to order a tea called “Little Red Riding Hood’s Basket”, but it turned out to be the best tea any of us ordered, so it was worth it. It was made from like 4 different fruits and luckily for me, didn’t taste much like tea. 🙂 After tea we went back to the hostel for a bit before heading out to dinner. I had the traditional Hungarian beef goulash with dumplings. It was delicious and only aboutt 1400 Forints, less than 5 euro. After dinner we headed back to the hostel and got ready for our last night in Budapest. And naturally we hung out with the group and headed out for the night. It was a wonderful last night.
Wednesday we took some much needed time to get ourselves together and repack our bags that had seemingly exploded during the week. We also partook in Hi5’s fun little activity to leave our handprints on the walls with paint. We chose a nice creative and difficult spot, the arch on the ceilnng. It required some moving of the bunkbeds to use as a ladder, and some upside down writing, but it turned out just perfectly. We were definitely sad to leave, but we were headed to Paris, and who wouldn’t be happy about that?!
But seriously, Budapest was just fantastic and I want to go back, like now. Love love love.