This post continues the story of my adventure in Europe. Next stop: Budapest, Hungary! I really enjoyed this city. The topography and layout of the city was really interesting to me. The limestone buildings was also something new I had yet to see on my trip. It looked very different to the other cities I had seen so far.
Back to the beginning though! Our bus ride from Krakow to Budapest was very scenic. We drove through the mountains of Slovakia – everything was lush, green, and very beautiful!
It was another 8 hour ride, so we arrived at our hostel in Budapest very late. To our surprise, we found out that for that first night we had a PRIVATE room waiting for us. Let me tell you, after a week of sharing beds and bathrooms with strangers this private room was a gift from above. We even had our own bathroom, and it was tucked away inside the building (so away from the loud main street) and faced a courtyard where we could open our window for a breeze in silence. That was my best night’s sleep of the whole trip.
For our first full day we decided to do a free walking tour of the city. I learned that Budapest (pronounced Bhuuda-Pesht) is really made up of two different cities almost. There is the city of “Pesht” on one side of the river. It was flat, had modern day architecture for the most part and was known as the “business district” of the city. And then there was the city of “Buda” on the other side of the river, that crawled up these big hills and had very historic and old looking architecture. Together they create the city of “Budapest.”
The tour was most interesting when we went across the city to Buda. Limestone is a rich resource in Hungary, so almost all of the buildings were white and had bright red roofs. We ended the tour at a breath-taking cathedral made entirely of limestone that had a mosaic of colorful tiles as the roof. It was a stunning building.
That night we decided to go on a night cruise around the city. We got dressed up for once and met at this giant boat that would take us around the river at night. I am so glad we did this, because it was a very memorable night! We went to the upper deck and drank our two free glasses of champagne as we watched the city drift by. Everything was lit up – the city was so beautiful. I’ll never forget turning around at one point and seeing the Parliament building lit up. It was massive before us, and shined through the night as if it were made of gold.
That night we were also able to meet back up with our friends from Prague, Jung and Andrew! We met up with them for a night of some bar-hopping and continued strengthen our friendships together. It was so cool that we were actually able to see each other again, in a totally different city and country!
The next day was quite a different kind of day for us, compared to the fast-paced “go, go go!” attitude we had embraced up until then. We learned that Hungary was known for its natural hot springs throughout the land, and that visiting a traditional Turkish Bath was a must when visiting Hungary. So for our next day we did some exploring of the city by ourselves, and had an absolute to-do to go to a Turkish Bath for a spa day! We found our way on an island between Pest and Buda at one point. There was a large park on it, and we had a great time walking the pathways and enjoying the botanical gardens on it.
Next, it was Turkish Bath time. It turns out that the largest Turkish Bath in the world is in Budapest, and we did walk up to it to see it and take pictures, but for my spa experience I wanted something a little more quiet and low-key. The large Turkish Bath tons of people at it, kids, etc. It was loud, and I was looking forward to a more tranquil and relaxing time. Instead we went to a very small, very old Turkish Bath somewhere else on the Buda side of the city. It truly was the spa experience I was looking for.
We enjoyed the multiple baths and saunas they had there (it reminded me a lot of this amazing Korean spa I go to in Atlanta called JeJu Spa). There were three different types of pools, one luke-warm, one warm/hot, one very hot, and one ice cold! You could tell that this was a place only locals visited. It was a very old building, but the tiles on the inside and the rounded ceilings were beautiful. Shanna and I were among only a few there, so it was very peaceful. Our ticket into the bath also got us a free massage, so we headed upstairs for those at some point. I got into the little room with my masseuse and in a very thick accent she says “Ok, strip.” I thought to myself, well, I guess “when in Budapest!” So I stripped down naked and got in the table. My massage was wonderful, and she did a great job. My back is very ticklish, so she had some troubles with me squirming, but it still felt great! After our spa outing we got some Chinese food at a local cafe down the street (Shanna and I both looooove Asian food and crave it constantly!) and headed back to the hostel for a chill night in.
Compared to the beginning of our trip, our time in Budapest felt short. We only had two brief days there, and yet I still feel like I did everything I wanted to do. Plus, the things we did do while we were there (boat cruise at night, spa day, exploring the city) were very memorable.
It was time to say goodbye to Budapest and head to Vienna. On another bus we went! This time, to Vienna.
Closing thoughts about Budapest:
- I favored the “Buda” side of the city more, just becuase of the unique looking buildings (white limestone and colorful roofs)
- Once again, there were statues, sculptures, and artwork literally everywhere. It is nothing like any U.S. city I have ever seen
- Traditional Hungarian food is similar to the surrounding countries, so I did not actually try any authentic Hungarian food while in Hungary. (The stew and dumplings I could have had were identical to the meals in Prague I had)
- Hungarian is known for being a very strange sounding language, especially to other Europeans – apparently this is because of Hungary originally being settled by Asians from the east, not Europeans from the west!
- Native Hungarian people were very friendly as well, I didn’t meet anyone I didn’t like!
- The city is very walkable, like the other cities we had been to. With a good map you really didn’t need to take a taxi anywhere