Budapest has a population of upwards to 1.75 million, so the chances that we would randomly see someone we knew there are very rare…but weird coincidences continue to happen to us, so of course we did.
We arrived in Budapest tired, sweaty and gross and checked into our hostel, LOL Boutique, that we shared with three other people (more on the lovely and not so lovely experiences with that later). Our friend, Tom, had also just arrived to town with his girlfriend and asked if we wanted to meet up that night or a different night. Since we all felt (and looked) gross we decided to meet up the following night instead and headed out of our hostel in search of food. We went to the Gozsdu Court, a cute area with some restaurants that used to be the Jewish Ghetto back in the day. We sat down to scarf some food and have a nice calm night. Fate had other plans for us, as a few minutes after sitting down I heard Emily say “Tom?!”. We all couldn’t believe it, but Tom and his girlfriend, Elle, had just happened to be walking past the same restaurant at that exact same time. Of course, they joined us to eat and we apologized for our sweaty looks and shared some dinner and drinks. What was supposed to be a ‘calm’ night ended with us going to a bar called The Hive that had live music at first and a DJ later. We had several drinks (lots) while we chatted and watched the various drunk people who came in that were forced to do various dumb things for the ‘Drunk Bingo Bar Crawl.’ Emily got asked to dance by a gentleman, who was part of a bachelor party, after he noticed her belting out Queen songs that the DJ was playing and we ended the night much later than we originally planned.
The next day, feeling a little bit worse for wear, we shopped a little and then went to walk the river Danube and take in some sights. However, we were met with rain. We did what any responsible traveler would do and tried to wait the rain out at a bar for a few hours. The rain eventually let up and we went back to our hostel to regroup before heading to dinner with Tom and Elle at a place called Spiler. We didn’t get too crazy since we were all tired from the night before and we went back home at a semi-reasonable hour after another great night.
We got in a lot of sightseeing the following day after we hiked up to the Citadel, which was a fortress from 1848 that was built by the Habsburgs. Along the same route you also see the beautiful Hungarian Parliament building from the Buda side of the river where the Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion are located.
Budapest is a stunning city with beautiful views everywhere, but after all that sightseeing in the heat we were beat. We refreshed with some drinks and decided to partake in one of the things Budapest is best known for: thermal baths. There are a lot of different bath houses to choose from but we went to Kiraly Spa, since it ticked all of our must haves (historical, cheaper than others, not as busy and close by). Kiraly was built by the Turks in 1565 and is the oldest thermal bath in Budapest. Feeling rejuvenated, we headed back to our hostel.
Hostels can be great for many reasons: they’re normally the cheapest way to stay, you get to meet other people who are also traveling, great locations, etc. However, they also can suck for a variety of reasons. When we got back to our hostel Emily wanted to shower buuuuut our middle aged roommate had placed his dirty underwear right on our towel. Delightful. (he also slept totally nude, Caleb and I got an eyeful each night). Thankfully, our hostel rented towels and we tucked our towel away to be extremely and thoroughly washed the next time we had a washer. Backpacking is definitely not all glamorous and fun, you have to be okay with wearing dirty socks two days in a row at times and maybe sharing a room with someone who doesn’t wear underwear to bed but does put his dirty underwear on your towel.
Wednesday we had plans for a walking tour but the rain had other ideas, so we again did the responsible thing and drank instead. Budapest has ‘ruin bars’ throughout the city, which were old abandoned buildings in the Jewish Ghetto during the communism era. Some smart people saw the potential there and they were turned into really cool bars, clubs, and hangouts with all different themes. The first one we wanted to go to was actually closed for a movie that was being shot there, so we headed to the Racskert, which was a former parking lot with a ‘festival theme.’ We then ended up meeting with Tim, Elle and another guy that they had met, at Kuplung which was known as the ‘whale bar’.
We managed to get home at a semi-reasonable hour (midnightish) and on Thursday we went on one of the free tours that Budapest offered. Our tour guide took us around Budapest while giving us a history lesson on the origins of Budapest, which was actually two different cities, Buda and Pest, that was eventually combined to be what we have now. Needing a refreshment after all that walking we stumbled upon a hookah bar. We were definitely at a local place and stood out but it had been a while since any of us had hookah (It’s flavored tobacco mom, don’t worry) so we were feeling pretty buzzed.
We knew we needed some food, so we refreshed at our place and then ventured out in search for dinner. We found a fantastic local place that we knew had to be good as locals were even waiting to dine. Caleb and Emily had langos, which is a deep fried flat bread filled with various different delicious things, also topped with cheese and sour cream. I had goulash, which if you’ve read our other blogs you know I eat this whenever I get the chance. Not that I don’t want to try other things, but goulash is my favorite food over here and even though I try to make it at home it’s just not the same. I cant pass up the opportunity when presented :).
It was a perfect end to a place that I wish we had more time at, but I guess we’ll just have to come back again soon.