Prior to this trip I considered German to be the hardest language to understand in my travels. Hungarian proved me to be very very wrong.
To let you in on a secret, I knew virtually nothing about Budapest prior to traveling there. I had watched one travel video that basically told me that they like paprika and were unlucky in several wars, so my knowledge was greatly lacking.
To travel from Florence to Budapest I ’embraced my youth’ as my mother called it, and took an 18 hour overnight bus. This was less than comfortable, but it was also less than half the cost of any other travel options. On the subway ride into the city center, I noticed the way the stops changed gradually. On the outside of the city, the stops were dirtier and more worn, while as we approached closer they became updated and clean, just to suddenly shift into historic tiled walls and pillars.
I arrived in a bustling square, where my hostel (the Avenue Hostel) was sitting in the center anticipating my arrival. The atmosphere of a youth hostel is one I would recommend to all travelers, especially students aboard. You meet such interesting personalities and share experiences with people whose lives are so starkly different from your own. It both expands your views and makes the world seem closer.
Immediately upon my check in, my lovely friend and roommate who had arrived the day before decided it was time to go on a walking tour of the city. Still blinking the sleep from my eyes I reluctantly agreed, and am so glad that I did. Remember how I said I knew nothing about the city? I do now.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures from how we spent our second day. We relaxed in the Széchenyi Thermal Baths for hours that I did not bother to count. The day was cold, gray, and rainy. The perfect cure was sitting in a thermal bath, allowing the rain to sting your face and shoulders while the rest of your body was heated in the natural waters.
Budapest taught me the joys of the unexpected. The whole weekend was a journey of constant surprise due to my uncharacteristic lack of research. The streets are clean and full of people from all walks of life and status.
Before boarding my second overnight bus (which ended in more headache than it was worth, but that’s not a story we need to get into) I ate brunch in the most beautiful cafe in the world. This cafe has earned its title. The New York Cafe is more of an experience than a restaurant. Everything for the two different types of live music (a pianist and a band that would alternate every 20 minutes) to the plating of our meals was thought out in detail. Visiting Budapest and not at least grabbing a coffee here is a sad mistake.
So Budapest, thank you for introducing me to all of your splendor, I cannot wait to meet again.