I am excited to share with you all our experiences in Budapest as we have had a fantastic time.
We took a bus from Krakow, Poland direct to Budapest for a steal of a price. But, you know what they say, you get what you pay for. It was quite an uncomfortable 6 hour journey (especially for Chris as he is much taller than I) but we made it nonetheless. We arrived at around 9 pm so by the time we figured out transport to get to our hostel it was quite late, so we grabbed a quick slice of pizza (quite good compared to other countries we have tried pizza, and only 70 cents a slice) and happily climbed into our comfy beds that smelled like fresh linen (aka heavenly).
The next day we were dragging our asses a bit as we were pretty wiped from the bus ride, so we leisurely made our way to the market and the grocery store to get ingredients to make breakfast and supper. We have typically been trying to eat only one meal out a day each day, but food prices here in Budapest are very expensive (for us) so we actually haven’t eaten a meal out yet. We made a typical breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, toast and avacado and I must say, it was amazing. It is always so funny what we crave on the road and the ordinary things from home that we appreciate so much. That breakfast was a prime example. We then spent the afternoon making a plan of action for the rest of our time in Budapest. We then cracked a bottle of 90 cent (you heard correctly, 90 cents!!! For a whole bottle!) and started cooking supper. We have been able to find amazing bottles of pesto for very cheap, that when added to stir-fryed veggies +/- chicken over pasta have been very delicious. Together with 2 other hostel guests we were able to polish off an aditional 5 bottles of wine over a friendly game of Anti-Monopoly. We had never heard nor played this version of monopoly before, it is suppose to more accurately reflect real life. It was interesting. I much prefer regular monopoly, but it was a very relaxing evening! We gave our laundry to the hostel worker before turning in for the night, with assurances it would be ready in the morning. We realized upon waking this was a rather ambitious hope, as the sentence “it will only be another hour” was repeated hourly from 8 am until 2 pm. That is the beauty of travel, one could be frustrated by this because by our standards this is “unacceptable,” or you can laugh and understand that you are in a foreign country and that if the worst thing that happens is you have to wait to have your laundry done, you are doing pretty good. We chose this mentality, and planned a massive dinner of chicken with a cream sauce, mashed potatoes with leaks and garlic, and caramelized onions and mushrooms. A very productive way to pass the time!
With fresh clothes we were able to make the 2pm walking tour of Budapest which was more like an orientation of the city; where to avoid due to high prices, where good places to go are, what local dishes to eat, etc. It was a great way to get a lay of the land! The best part of the tour was that it ended around 4:15 pm on the “Buda” side which is on a hill overlooking the “Pest” side. As it continued to get darker and darker and the lights around the city began to light up, we realized how much more beautiful the city is by night. We walked much of the Fisherman’s Bastion which is a decorative fortification of the old city of “Buda” that provides the most spectacular views. We were able to see both the iconic parliment building, as well as the chain bridge that Budapest is famous for.
That evening we made our feast, which turned out incredibly well. We again indulged in a bottle of 90 cent wine, that for the price is delicious. We then decided to go to a wine tasting bar, as I had heard it is a nice way to sample Hungarian Wine. Hungary produces a lot of very high quality wine, but lacks in marketing and exporting abilities, so it is rather unknown. The wine bar was beautiful, and there was something to sample for any palate or price range. We chose to sample Egri Bikavér which means “Bulls Blood of Egar” which is Hungary’s most famous red wine. I don’t know the whole story behind it other than it is produced in the Egar wine region of the country and must be made with a specific type of grape. It was different than any other red wine I have tried before, we thoroughly enjoyed it. After the wine bar we decided to keep things going by heading to the most famous ruin bar in Budapest, Szimpla. Ruin bars are the brain child of 2 Hungarian guys who decided to re-purpose the communist era buildings that were falling into ruins, into bars. They did not renovate the buildings at all, and decorated the insides with only second hand or re-purposed items. The end result is a very eclectic bar. It was amazing! We were able to try Palinka, which is a Hungarian specialty shot. It tasted awful at first, but the ending was smooth and delicious (we tried the cherry version). We then sat around chatting over beers with a few fellow hostel guests until 4:30 am! We gladly headed home to get some shut eye.
We were up early the next day (gah), and after a hearty breakfast decided the only thing we were capable of for the day was soaking in the thermal baths. We headed to the oldest and largest of the baths, and proceeded to spend the next 4 hours soaking. It was the best way I have ever nursed a hangover. The place was absolutely massive, with so many different baths of different temperatures, and numerous saunas also of different temperatures. We accidently ventured into one which was 95 degrees. I could barely breathe. Our favorite was absolutely the warmest outdoor pool, so we spent most of the day there watching the local men soak and play intense games of chess (see pictures) and observe a local elderly couple serenade each other with songs. It was adorable!
That evening we made supper and then headed to the Budapest Cat Cafe for our fix as we are missing Jack and Zuri big time! The concept is simple: they adopt cats from the local shelter and the cats live at the cafe and are able to go everywhere except the kitchen. You can purchase treats to entice the cats over. There are cat toys everywhere, and there is even an entire playroom for them. They have it made in the shade. They do whatever they want and get unlimited amounts of snuggles and treats. It was amazing. One cat was rather rambunctious in his desire for our treats, but afterwards was happy to snuggle with us. It was a perfect end to a perfect day!
Tonight we are heading on a pubcrawl with the other hostel guests and then tomorrow we are off to the capital of Slovenia. We are sad to be leaving this awesome city, but excited to see Slovenia.
Bye for now,
Parliment Building. I haven't edited this photo at all!
Our first pic of the trip lol!
The Cat Cafe!
Big chess match!