I have just returned from my first weeklong school break here in France! My roommates and I had made plans to travel to Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), and Amsterdam (Netherlands). This was our plan until the day of, when Julianne and I overslept and missed our flight to Vienna! We woke up in the biggest frenzy at 8 am when we were supposed to leave at 6 am. Lesson learned here to never plan anything that early again. So long story short we decided to go to the cheapest place we could since we had already lost money that day, which took us to Budapest! The hostels there are only 8 euros!! We had planned to get to Vienna eventually, but Budapest had so many attractions we wanted to see that we never left. Since we had now 6 days in Budapest we decided to experience all the unique attractions. The first night we went to a blind simulation, which is lead by blind people, and it was so amazing. We were with a group of 8 people in the pitch black trying to wander our way through a house, store, streets, and forest. It was very scary at first, but by the end we were all laughing hysterically. It felt as if we got to really know our groups from all the accident bump-ins and grabbing each other’s faces when searching for a barrier to grasp.
Budapest is known for its giant thermal baths that are highly populated every day. We knew this was something we had to do so we spent a day at the Szechenyi Baths. It is a massive, beautiful building located in a park with many indoor pools and in the center 3 large outdoor pools. We really did not know what to expect, but we picked the sunniest day and went for it. When we arrived there were so many people it was insane. People from all over speaking many languages, and wearing all forms of bathing suits were gathered in the ginormous tub. I for sure saw some sights I could of lived without seeing, but hey it was a culture experience! The temperature of the water was like a hot tub, which was shocking to us, but it made it a very relaxing experience. After enjoying the bath and sunshine for about 2 hours we decided we could not leave Budapest and put going to Vienna completely off the table. Budapest was really treating us well, so we figured why not? This joy for me quickly changed because the next day I lost my phone. It was a very disappointing experience, but thankfully I have insurance and awesome parents who helped get me one to France! The night of the phone loss we were on a night boat cruise on the Danube. It was one of the most beautiful sights. Budapest has an amazing parliament and other buildings that line the river making a beautiful view.
While in Budapest I got to indulge in langos, which is fried dough covered in sour cream, cheese, onion, and pepperoni. Thinking about it now my mouth is watering. It was so delicious I could have eaten it for every meal. We also walked up to the Citadel Statue, which gives you an amazing view of the whole city. The weather while we were there was perfect, which made out trip much more enjoyable. Another unique thing I discovered in Budapest were the “ruin bars.” These are bars in the old Jewish quarter in abandoned buildings. Sounds scary, but the area of the city was left to rot after WWII so they chose to develop it into unique bars. From the outside you cant tell it is a bar, but inside you can find the most random of things. One I went to seemed to be an old apartment building. One room clearly used to the bathroom and it had a bathtub, which had been made into a couch. Everything we had the opportunity to do in Budapest were activities I never could have imagined the city would have.
Our next stop was Amsterdam where we were meeting 3 our of guy friends from school. We only had two full days in this city so we were very busy. On Friday we toured the Heineken Brewery, which was very fun. We did an English tour that ended with free drinks on their rooftop bar overlooking Amsterdam. I had never been to a brewery before but the experience was very much like the world of Coke in Atlanta, but with alcohol. They had fun games and simulations that made our tour very fun. The next day in Amsterdam we decided we would rent a boat and tour the canals. The boat was very tiny and metal. All six of us fit very snug inside the boat. To begin our trip we had to pass under a very short bridge. The boat company warned us that in order to pass through we had to all sit on the ground in the boat and duck. It was quiet comical to watch us all squeeze on the floor and duck for dear life. We had the boat for 2 hours and brought cheese and bread for the ride. The boat went about 8 mph so it was a great way to see the city because you had so much time to look around. At one point the motor stopped working, which the boat company had warned us this might happen. They said to fix it someone would need to reach in and make sure the motor had not caught any trash. I volunteered myself when this happened, so my friends held my legs while I reached in to deal with the mossy motor. It was pretty gross but we all had a good laugh from it.
The rest of our time in Amsterdam was spent consuming yummy food, a pub-crawl, and museums. I had the most delicious cone of fries covered with mayonnaise, ketchup, and onions. I would normally be opposed to a combination like this but the Europeans love their mayonnaise on everything, so I thought I would try it. We spent a lot of time exploring the city, which I really enjoyed. They had the cutest shops and restaurants that lined the many canals. I decided Amsterdam is a city I could deal with living in some day. The homes were very quaint and the city itself was very clean. But, don’t worry everyone I haven’t forgotten about my love for America yet!