Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Budapest

The sun is juuuust starting to shine its warm rays on us here in Edinburgh, and I can't help but feel a serious case of wanderlust. I'm so close to being done with school [just an exam to go now!] and I just finalized my summer travel plans! Eeeee! I'll be staying in a rented villa with friends in Sicily for a week, and then staying at a friend's in Vienna for another week after that. These are both places I have never been and my excitement knows no bounds! 

So I'm in a very very just-pack-a-bag-full-of-shorts-and-tank-tops-and-have-an-ADVENTURE kind of mood, which made me realize I never shared about the Budapest leg of my Eastern Europe trip a couple summers back. Is it still acceptable to post about a trip that's almost 2 years old? 

Anyways, this picks up where we left off, the morning after our Brasov-Budapest sleeper train experience.

It probably no longer comes as a surprise anymore when I say I adored a city I visited, but honestly... Budapest... soooo cool. 
The city is divided into two parts, Buda and Pest, by the Danube River. The main part you can see above is Pest, to the East. It is the larger and more 'interesting' part of the city. I don't want to offend anyone by saying it's more interesting, but it's just where the majority of the main tourist attractions and big sights are located. [I have a couple friends from Budapest but I'm not sure where so on the tiiiiny offchance that they ever stumble onto this post I want everyone to be happy! :) ]  
By this point in our trip [that is, after a month of teaching English in Romania and traveling around that country and in Ukraine], we were rapidly running out of cash, so we did a lot of walking around town. Alllllll around town. We found this really cool little chapel in a cave on the side of the mountain in Buda. So out-of-the-blue! 


It was a great city for getting around by foot, and it was really warm for the 3 days we stayed there so everyone was out and about. Not only students but families, young & old people, all together enjoying the summer.
 

 I think this is the second largest synagogue in the world! It stretched on forever.

St. Stephen's Basilica


I don't particularly know if Budapest is known for its fun but weird bar scene, or if we just managed to find the most random places, but this is just one of the strange establishments we found. That is a sleigh of bunny rabbits being suspended in mid-air and lower down there were some old Victorian family photos with farm animals replacing the people's heads. ... cool?

We went on a pub crawl one night organized by our hostel which was extremely fun but left us feeling a bit rough the next morning... so we took that opportunity to go visit the Szechenyi Thermal Baths. Budapest has the largest underground network of warm thermal baths in the world, and for a long time it was THE place in Europe to come for thermal and spa treatments. I obviously didn't bring my camera inside since we were sitting around in hot springs, but it was really gorgeous inside and a great way to spend a couple low-key hours. :)

An art installation, because why not?

Buda Castle seen from the bridge

 Inside the castle complex

The crazy beautiful Parliament building on the Pest bank, seen from Buda; it's like Westminster but with a thousand million spikes.

 Aaaand, the next few photos are from what was by far my favorite sight: Fisherman's Bastion. It's a beautiful structure overlooking the city with seven towers, a huge beautiful church and various observation terraces [as well as an inexplicably grotesque 70's-tastic hotel that I purposely did not include in any photos, and which I'm pretending doesn't exist]. The view from up there was unreal. It's hard to explain, but it was just so peaceful and so pretty. I think we stayed for over an hour just sitting and staring out at the city. It was the last thing we saw that day, so we were there around 5 or 6 pm, and the evening light was streaming in, and ahhh, even though this trip was almost 2 years ago, I can still remember the exact feeling of relaxation and pure contentment I had while sitting up there. Ahhhhhh.




The SzĂ©chenyi Chain Bridge on our last night. 

***

Funny story about that last night... see I had booked my flights out of Budapest before booking a hostel or anything else, and Jen was traveling on solo to Croatia after this trip. So I had an early morning flight.. maybe 6 am or something. I assumed I'd be able to take the metro from our hostel to the airport the night before my flight, and hang around airport-hobo-style until it was time to board and finally end this crazy and exhausting adventure. BUT. Did it occur to me to check what time the last metro would leave at night? NO IT DID NOT. So, when we arrived back to the hostel from our Hungarian feast of a dinner [it was our last night together after all, we wanted to make it memorable!] the night before the flight, I asked at the hotel reception about the metro and they told me it was closed for the night and not starting until 6 the next morning! Uh-oh. So I panicked and begged them to call me an airport car pick-up service for 4 am. It was around midnight at this point, and you're supposed to book them 24 hours in advance, but the poor woman must have seen the desperation in my eyes so she took pity on me and managed to get me a car booking. Jen had already booked a room for that night since her Croatia flights were later the next day, but I didn't get one, thinking I'd be sleeping at the airport. And there were no rooms left for that night. Sooooo, I ended up 'sleeping' on a bench in the lobby of the hostel for 4 hours. Which, all things considered, was extremely nice of them to let me do, as I wasn't paying a cent and they could have kicked me to the cold Hungarian curb had they chosen to. Phew. So finally, my ride arrived, and took me to the airport, where I was super hungry but had no currency left, or they wouldn't accept my card or something. I don't remember the details, but I do remember the only thing I was able to buy for breakfast was a Chupa Chups lollypop. Cola-flavored. Gross, right. Finally, I boarded my flight to London Stansted, where I got off, got on a 2-hour shuttle bus to London Gatwick, and boarded my final flight to get to Edinburgh.

I was NEVER more happy to see my own bed.

The End

xoxo

3 comments:

Megan said...

Beautiful pics! Budapest is one of those cities I feel like I've been to, but seeing as I know I've never been to Hungary, I guess I probably haven't.

Adrienne said...

So many wonderful photos!! Glad you had a good time, and glad you made it home (and back to your own bed!) safe. :)

Corinnea said...

Gorgeous pictures.
Funny story that I'm glad ended well. I love all chuppa chups execpt cola.

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