Amsterdam: Czeching Out Hungary

I know it’s been so long since my last post, but I’ve been going nonstop! Between trips and school I’ve had hardly any down time, but hey I’m definitely not complaining.

Last week I went with a friend to Budapest, Hungary and Prague, Czech Republic (hence the pun-filled name of this post title) and fell in love with both cities. They are both great values for young travelers (a 3 course meal with drinks for around 20 euros) and are filled with history and interesting sights to czech out. Puns on puns on puns.

Budapest:

After a short flight and two small complimentary wines later, we arrived in Budapest and headed to check in to our hostel and settle in for the night. We get out of the taxi and walk into two large, ornate wooden doors and follow the signs until we made it up to the top floor and were greeted by Maria, one of the workers at The Loft Hostel, who gave us the low down of the city and tons of recommendations and advice. The Loft is hands down my favorite hostel I’ve stayed in thus far, it’s super quirky and really makes you feel like you are staying at someone’s home. There are paintings on the walls, beer bottles used as decor, amazingly friendly staff, and a couch that makes you wanna lounge and relax all day.

view of the courtyard of our hostel
view of the courtyard of our hostel

Prague

The next day we woke up and decided to go on a free walking tour to get a feel of the city and learn a little bit of history of the city as well. I always recommend this to everyone who is traveling to a new place, I love them! Why do I love them so much? A) They are “free” aka tip based only, meaning you can give as much as you want B) the guides are all very passionate about their cities and really want to make sure you have a great trip, and are filling with tons of recommendations and general tips C) you cover the main sights of the city and get the history and fun facts about the different places instead of just walking past something and never knowing anything about it

So after seeing the beautiful views of the Danube River and climbing up the hills of the Buda side of the city, we grabbed some gelato that our hostel had recommended before heading off on our next tour of the Jewish District. Turo gelato to be specific. Turo as in cheese curds. Yep, that’s the gelato we got and it was so amazing we actually went back for seconds later that day. Don’t knock it til ya try it people!

gorgeous views from the Fisherman Bastion
gorgeous views from the Fisherman Bastion

After a tour of the Jewish District, the artsy area of the city filled with quirky ruin bars, hip cafes and restaurants, and countless coffee places. That night a group of us from the hostel headed to a local microbrewery with Maria, the hostel worker, and stayed grabbing house brewed Hungarian beer until the place called it closed and then checked out a ruin bar.

Friday morning, we met up with Sage’s friend from her university back in the States and checked out the local market. We grabbed a traditional Hungarian food, lango, which is a fried dough ball with a garlic cream sauce and covered in cheese aka heaven. So delicious. Later on the three of us went to an amazing dinner at an Argentinian steakhouse before going to meet up with a mutual friend of theirs also from the States (‘Merica taking over y’all). Wine, seared venison, beef and spinach empanadas, and grilled pumpkin. Definitely the best meal of the trip and only cost about $20!

After a great night out, we slept in a little and leisurely made our way through the city to a nice cafe to relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and get ready for the bath party. Budapest has a few thermal baths that are opened up on certain night for bath parties or “sparties” and we heard how much fun they were and decided to check on out. Verdict: the best fun I never want to have again. Was it fun? Yes, the music was nice and I was with a great group of super fun people but I’m not a huge fan of having random men hit on me constantly and aggressively because of the male to female ratio of about 11:1. But all in all we had a great time (and some protection from the guys by the British guy from our hostel who joined us) and we headed back, packed our things and hopped on our bus to Prague.

7 hours on a bus and one stop over in Brno later, we arrived in Prague and checked into our hostel, the Czech Inn. With a name that pun filled, how could you go wrong? Putting our things up, we met a girl from Australia who came with us to check out a small fair that was going on not to far from where we were staying. Basically a Czech version of a state fair with deliciously bad for you fried foods and sugary sweets. Oh and amazing mulled wine, which is apparently a huge Czech thing. Warm wine that tastes like a hot cider? Count me in!

Next we popped over to the John Lennon Wall and took our typical tourist pictures in front of the graffiti and then made our way around the corner to a small restaurant and bakery known for their sweets. I ordered a hot chocolate with cinnamon and took one sip of the liquid chocolatey goodness and was in chocolate heaven. Best hot chocolate I’ve ever had hands down, forget Angelina’s in Paris, this cup wins. Absolutely perfect. So perfect in fact that we stopped in before leaving for the airport for one last cup.

best hot chocolate I've ever tasted
best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted

The next day, we started off with another free walking tour (told ya I love them!) and hiked up to Prague Castle for some history and amazing views of the city. Prague is such a breathtaking city, filled with beautiful buildings and a gorgeous skyline. One of my favorite cities I’ve seen so far. A lot of gothic architecture scattered in with bright pops of color from smaller buildings and narrow, winding streets.

obligatory tourist photo
obligatory tourist photo at the Lennon Wall

Walking around on the Charles Bridge, in the middle of the city, was probably my favorite part of the city. I know that’s considered a little odd to love a bridge so much, but it’s so ornate with all the different statues running along it and it has gorgeous views of the city. Even with all the tourists taking selfies and locals trying to sell photos of the Lennon wall or toys for triple their value, it had a slow and relaxing vibe that made you want to grab a cup of coffee and just stroll through and take it all in.

Tuesday, we decided to take a day trip out of the city to visit Terezin, the former prison and concentration camp during World War II. We walked around and saw the living areas of the Jewish people that were forced to live there and how their day to day life was as well as learned about the conditions they suffered while at the camp. The tour was very rushed but included interesting information and a look at what the Jewish people had to endure during this sad time.

When we got back, I decided to check out the city on my own for a little bit and headed over to the Astrological Clock in the Old Town Square and climbed up to the top of one of the towers in the square to check out the birds eye view of the city. After a long, hike to the top, I stepped out on the viewing area and immediately was taken aback at the gorgeous views. You could see every part of the city, and it was so interesting to see Prague from such a different view.

amazing view from the tower
amazing view from the tower
never wanted to come down
never wanted to come down

I strolled around the city for a while, wandering into bookstores, random stores, and then found an open air market and bought a pastry for the next morning’s breakfast and some local mulled wine with honey and chatted up one of the locals. I made my way back to the hostel and grabbed dinner with the group of people staying in my room at the cafe up the street that served great traditional Czech food and then went out to an underground bar to end our last night.

Both cities were great places to visit, especially for young travelers on a budget, everything was extremely cheap compared to the high prices of other central European cities. An average meal was always less than 10 euros, no matter where we went and it was good quality food, not supermarket deli sandwiches. I definitely want to go back and visit both places again, or “czech” them out as soon as I can!

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