When I was coming up with my travel itinerary, the one main place I wanted to make sure I saw was Budapest. My Dad’s side is Hungarian, so I had an interest in seeing my roots. I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived because I haven’t known many people to go there.
We flew from Paris to Budapest, and when I was searching for flights that flew between the two places, an airline called “Wizzair” came up as the cheapest. I had never even heard of this airline, and had to do some research to ensure it was even legit. I know that Europe has a few cheaper carriers such as Ryanair and Easyjet, but this one was a first for me. To my surprise Wizzair was quite nice compared to what I thought it was going to be, and the 2 hour-ish flight WIZZED by!!
Since Eastern Europe isn’t as tourist packed as other places, the prices of hotels, food and such aren’t as steep as places more popular. We got to our hotel, (Hotel Matyas) which was located along the Danube on the Pest side and it looked like a castle from the outside! We paid under 60 dollars per night and it was definitely worth the money. It wasn’t The Trump Tower or anything like that, but the location was great, it was comfortable and fit all our travel needs including free Wi-Fi, which is always a plus when traveling over seas. When staying in Budapest, what I didn’t know was the Danube River separates “Buda” and “Pest” with Buda being more hilly, full of castles and sites to see and Pest is more flat, has more shopping and modern buildings. We had 3 days there and I was able to fit pretty much everything I wanted into that time, including time to relax at the most remarkable pool I’ve ever been to.
The first day we arrived early into the Budapest airport, hailed a cab and headed to our castle for the next 3 days. I did find there were a lot of aggressive men who were offering to drive us to our hotel, but didn’t seem like legit cabs. We almost went with one of them, because his price was cheaper then the rest- but when we started walking though the parking lot to a sketchy looking car, I gave my boyfriend the death stare and he got the point, then we headed to the cab line and paid the extra money. We freshened up then headed across the chain bridge and checked out the Gallert Baths, hiked the hill beside the baths to the Citadel, and took in the panoramic views of the Pest side. It was quite the hike, so if you are extremely jet lagged, hung over or lazy I wouldn’t recommend it (Because then you have to hike it back down) but if you are in top form, it is a stunning view of the Danube/pest side, and great for a photo op. We then took a tour of the Cave Church, which is UNDER where the non-lazy people just hiked. After the work out we walked back over to the Pest side to the hustle & bustle of a street festival with traditional Hungarian dancers (which was just like the dancers I had seen at this Hungarian ball my family sometimes goes to at a church at home. We walked down Vaci Street and did some shopping and discovering my new love “Bershka” a clothing store, which I can compare to a Zara-type store, I guess. After spending some of my hard earned money we decided on dinner at Boom & Brass- an unreal restaurant in the main square. I ate Gnocchi with prosciutto - all the things I love in life. I was shocked by how inexpensive the dinner was however the currency makes it seem much more expensive. You get the bill and you see a number like 8700 dollars, you have a minor melt down but then you pull out the translator and it’s actually like 40 bucks. (SIDE NOTE, the alcoholic beverage we got probably cost the same as our entrée)
After dinner we wandered the streets, which were really lively. There were people having drinks in Erzsebet Square beside the ‘Budapest Eye’ (The giant Ferris wheel, you cant miss it) Younger kids at the Skate Park and restaurants buzzing with young professionals enjoying the summer weather. We decided to go into this weirdo bar recommended by one of the younger tour guides. There were numerous rooms in this bar and they were all VERY creepy and there was no toilet paper in the bathrooms what so ever- so I would not recommend anyone to go here. I think they were trying to be edgy and different but it bordered on terrifying so I chugged my rye and coke and called it a night.
We woke up the next morning and were ready to get right into the action. The easiest way I found to see all the sites in one day was the hop on hop off tour. It was 12 dollars and it included a river cruise, so we couldn’t refuse. We bought it from a kiosk by the ‘The Budapest Eye’ and there were stops through out the city. The first bus we got on headed to Hero’s Square, an adorable castle which I’m not sure the name of it and then looped up the Buda Castle.
We Toured Buda Castle, the streets surrounding and had a traditional Hungarian lunch of Goulash soup and Chicken Paprikas, which my grandma used to make when I was growing up.
After touring the castle area, we headed down to the Szechenyi Thermal baths, which was the highlight of Budapest for me for sure. Indoors, there were dozens and dozens of thermal baths with different temperatures and minerals in them. You’re supposed to dip into each for different effects in your body. I dipped into an ice cold bath and that was enough for me, so I headed outside to what seemed like the coolest pool party of all time. It was 3-4 different shaped pools, with whirlpools, all an assortment of temperatures, surrounded by a palace. We spent a few hours enjoying the atmosphere, cleaned up and headed back into the main area for dinner and shopping. We probably could have spent a full day here (especially because it cost about 30 dollars each to get in)
There are TONS of eating options in Budapest. There were numerous random streets and alleys filled with every dining option you could want. We came across a place called Trofea Grill, that was all you can eat and ALL YOU CAN DRINK for what converted to like 20 dollars Canadian- are you kidding me? So we indulged in many different Hungarian foods as well as foods from other countries, enjoyed lots of wine and soft drinks and rolled out, literally.
Day 3 we decided to take advantage of the beautiful sunny morning and went on the river cruise down the Danube, which came with a head set so we could take in the culture at the same time. It wasn’t overly invigorating but it was a nice way to relax and work on the tan. We then headed over to do some last minute shopping at The West End Shopping center where I shopped at some stores I had never heard of before & got better aquatinted with my new friend Bershka. There was also a lot of underground shopping, which I realized later on when I stumbled upon it. Had an over night train to Prague to catch, so we went to the train station for our departure. Just a note, we didn’t get a private room for sleeping because the train was basically empty when we got on, not anticipating it stopping through out the night. I’m not sure if anyone had seen Euro Trip and the over night train ride stopping in Bratislava and the creepy man getting in the cart beside them? Well that’s all I could think about the whole trip, so basically I didn’t sleep. SO if you are wanting a decent night sleep on an over night train, spring for the individual room, I wish I did! Another note: one of the bathrooms in this train station has no seats on the toilet, so you MAY fall in. I know someone that did!