I hope you have all been enjoying my updates, and I hope you haven’t been bored out of your mind by the intricate details that I tend to include. We’re currently in Vienna and although the wireless at the hostel we’re staying at seems to be broken, I was able to get to a Starbucks about 10 minutes away from here in order to post the last two entries. So, I’ll write this now (Saturday night) and hopefully I’ll be able to post it tomorrow from Athens! Our hostel there is supposed to have free internet connections, so we can only hope that theirs wont be broken also, but I guess it’s pointless for me to be saying this because if anyone is reading this post, it means that I finally found some internet and was able to update my blog. Sooooo, on to our crazy adventures in Budapest!
As you heard in my last entry, we chose to stay in a different hostel than the one that we had previously booked. Mom, don’t freak out too much about this, we were very cautious, and really we could either have gone with Ziggy or tried to find our way around Budapest at 11:30pm… our options really weren’t all that great. Our choice to stay at the Locomotive Light Hostel (as it was called) is really the reason that we had almost all of the experiences that we did in Budapest. I’ll start from the beginning though, because I like to stick to chronologies.
After getting in at 11:30pm and staying up talking to Ziggy for a while on our first night in Budapest, Yitka and I were both pretty tired and so we decided to sleep in a bit instead of rushing out and trying to cram in as much sightseeing as possible. In fact, sightseeing was very low on our agenda for our time in Budapest. The first and most important thing that we did in Budapest was to take a trip to the thermal baths. We had heard before arriving that a trip to the baths was a thing not to be missed if one was going to visit this city and so at 11:30am we followed Ziggy’s directions and took a bus over to the Schezny Baths (I think I spelled that right). We got there at about noon and paid our 2500 fts. (About 15 dollars) each and then headed in. There were a bunch of different baths that one could go into, including one like a hot tub, as well as one with powerful water jets that made the whole bath into the most powerful whirlpool I’ve ever been in. If you just let yourself float in the water you would find yourself being whisked around the entire pool by no effort of your own. There were also two baths that may have had something special about them, but I really don’t know what that something would be… Now that I’ve explained that, I’ll just let you know that Yitka and I stayed there for almost 6 hours. We had left the hostel knowing that we weren’t going to try and do anything else that day, and the time just flew by as we were sitting relaxing in the water. It was extremely refreshing and also very good for us I think. The water supposedly has all these minerals in it that results in your entire system being cleared out just by sitting in it, it was pretty awesome.
So that was what we did on our first day in Budapest, but one thing that was different about our visit to Budapest than the rest of the cities we’ve been in so far is that we actually went out to some bars both nights. On our first night Ziggy introduced us to Andrew (a 34 year old guy from Idaho who ended up staying in the same room as us in the hostel for the next two nights) and Andrej (that’s Hungarian for Andrew, although I’m unsure of the spelling) a friend of his from Budapest. The five of us went to a nearby bar and had some delicious Hungarian beer and also played pool for a while. When we came back to the hostel, Yitka, Andrew, and I ended up playing poker until about 3:30am when we finally called it a night, all in all it was a fun night.
On our second day we were determined to get at least a little sightseeing done before we left the city. Since we hadn’t gone to sleep until about 4am the night before we allowed ourselves to sleep until 11am before getting up and heading out to see the sights. Unfortunately, we seemed to have picked the cloudiest, and grayest day of our entire trip, and so none of my pictures really capture Budapest in it’s truest glory, which we fortunately were able to see today as our train pulled away from the city.
Our first sightseeing stop was the Hungarian parliamentary buildings. We took the metro there, and as we emerged from the station we were immediately confronted with the beautiful sight of the parliament complex. Like the dutiful tourists that we are, we took a bunch of pictures of the building and of some of the statues surrounding it. That’s also one thing we noticed about Budapest, there are statues absolutely everywhere! We didn’t know who most of the statues were of, but they fill the entire city, and they’re all large and grand, it was really cool.
After leaving parliament we walked along the bank of the river until we came to a bridge where we could cross into Buda. That’s one thing I learned while in Budapest actually. Buda and Pest are two different places. Buda is on the western side of the river and is more expensive and also home to the castle grounds, while Pest is on the eastern side of the river and is less expensive and more industrial. We were staying in Pest, but we wanted to go walk around the castle grounds so we walked over to Buda. The palace is up on top of a mountain and is surrounded by a variety of other buildings with lots of museums and shops within the grounds. To be quite honest, I’m really not sure which building was actually the palace, but the entire grounds were really beautiful and from the top of the mountain we got a really great view of the rest of the city.
After leaving the palace we were going to try and go to the Statue Park, which is this park where all the statues of former communists leaders have been collected since the fall of communism. Even though I was already exhausted from our days adventures, I was really looking forward to seeing this place because we were told that it was a pretty amazing sight. We needed to take two different buses to get there from our hostel, but unfortunately after we got off the first bus and were trying to figure out where to get on the second bus, we found out that the park was closed. We were in a pretty random part of the city, so there was nothing for us to do besides turn around and take the bus back to our hostel… too bad.
That night we went out to a traditional Hungarian restaurant for dinner and I had the most delicious goulash I’ve ever tasted (sorry Rachel… it was very meaty). The only vegetarian thing on the menu was fried cheese, so Yitka got to enjoy that splendid delicacy. After satiating ourselves, we found ourselves heading to another bar with Ziggy and Andrew. This bar was much smaller and really personal. It was basically me, Yitka, and Andrew (the 3 Americans) and a bunch of 30-40 year old Hungarian guys. Oh yeah, and there was also a guy from Canada, and an older guy from Germany… what a crowd, eh? We spent the night drinking good Hungarian beer and playing a whole lot of foosball… more foosball than I’ve ever played in my life beforehand. What we learned was that, all 3 of us Americans were pretty terrible at foosball, but Andrej, and the German guy were both really awesome at it. After a few hours of foosball, random songs on the jukebox, and the largest pizza I’ve ever seen in my life, we decided to call it a night and head back to the hostel.
So that was Budapest… It was definitely an experience like none I’ve ever had before and I’m sure that I will never forget it. It was also really interesting for me, because I NEVER hang out with 30-40 year old men, and I wouldn’t really expect to have a good time with them, but I guess that would be a bad judgment on my part, because I ended up having a lot of fun, and it was definitely a night, and a city, that I will never forget.
Alright, by the time you read this I assume that I will be in Athens or maybe even on my way to Geneva! I’ve got 9 more days in Europe; I’ll try to make the best of it!