In the wee hours of Tuesday night, my sis and I took an overnight train through the lands of Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, arriving at our second city of adventure: Budapest! After being in Prague for 3.5 days, it was kind of unsettling at first to find ourselves in a new city, to not know what we were looking at, or where we were going. And then, we also arrived with our lovely luggage, who so kindly added to the weight of discovering a new city after sleeping an hour or two on an 8 hour train ride. Unlike in Prague, I had decided against booking a hostel because I figured after a couple days with no personal space it might be nice to do have a room to ourselves instead of with 10 strangers (bonus: no snoring). The downside of going with Airbnb or an apartment is that you can’t just drop those pesky bags off and say “see ya later”. So we decided to chill in the park for the time before checking in (thank you Netflix for making movies such as Grease available in Hungarian parks)
Even though we had only been traveling for 5 days at this point, I think we realized that it’s okay to take a slow day. Because sometimes the mind and body need to have a day to adjust. Especially when you travel a couple hours ago but are already immersed in a new culture, language, currency, and atmosphere. That is the amazingly wonderful thing about Europe; the ability to change your surroundings completely in a couple hours!! In Mississippi, you drive for 5 hours, and you’re still in Mississippi…
BUDAPEST: two cities brought together
The history of this place is astounding! Maybe I missed a couple courses of European history because until two days ago, I never knew that Budapest was originally two cities: Buda and Pest, which combined to form Budapest in 1873 (history lesson for the day). Buda makes up the western hilly part of the city. This is where the castle and Matthias Catherdral are located, both with amazing views of the river Danube. And Pest is the eastern more bohemian side that offers the ruins bars and amazing restaurants that make up this city. So the first day was kind of a bust, and we only took a little tour of the Buda side, meandering and browsing our new city.
But the second day was a marathon!
Day 6: We walked to the other side-> Buda across the Chain Bridge
And then we visited a super COOL museum. Called the Hospital In the Rock, this museum is an actual hospital in rocks that was shaped from tunnels dating back to the 15th century. In the 1900s, these tunnels were improved to allow for a safe hospital during wars to provide care while also ensuring safety. This hospital actually was used until the 1960s!! Everything is in mint condition inside the tunnels; you can see the operating rooms, bunk rooms, machine rooms, etc. all with items from that time. While the hospital was made for the care of 200 patients, during WW11 it actually was filled with 700 men at one time. (It’s quite chilly so they hand out capes to wear on the tour)
Finally we ended the day by rewarding ourselves with going to the thermal baths, a specialty of Budapest.
Oh what a treat they were! After a long day of walking, nothing feels better than a heated soak in these beautiful baths. The tiles and soothing colors transport you to the happiest of places! We even tried out the sauna which was between 170-180 F. Yea my face felt like it was melting off, but it’s all still there. The next day, Brooke’s and I felt like we had the skin of babies again!
Walked back to Pest across the Liberty Bridge
By this time, we had roamed what felt like the entire city, so we planned for a chill night at a bar. Haha that chill bar turned out to have 5 different club rooms!
Day 7: Next day we strolled around Buda, seeing the Parliament building and Central Market and then we managed to squeeze a run through (literally) of the National Hungarian Museum.
After having such an “extended time” (3 days) in Prague, our time in Budapest was like a whirlwind. We ended up almost running to our bus for Zagreb, making it by just 5 minutes. But that’s how these things works, you have some time, you lose some time. Some places I scheduled a little more time, but at least for these next few cities, we will be running!
Even with only 2 days in Budapest, I learned so much about the Hungarian capital and land! The place is a vibrant thriving community that has amazing food places and is very proud of its culture. The people are kind, and the language is impossible! While not a city of utter grandeur, there are pockets of beauty on every street corner. Thanks for the time Budapest!