As I write this I’m currently back in the UK looking forward to my big trip starting in just over a week’s time.
But first I feel like I need to tell you what happened in Budapest because frankly, it was an eventful trip.
**Disclaimer: I’m not here to glorify travel or give you long reviews. I’m here to tell the stories of my adventures whether good, bad or indifferent and how I went about exploring.**
We all know how the start of the trip went (if you don’t, head here and read about my First Ten Hours in Budapest) and after all the drama I genuinely thought to myself “we’ve had all our bad luck now, the rest of this trip will be great”… I was so wrong.
On our first full day in Budapest, me and my friends wandered around getting our bearings and mainly having “discussions” over where we wanted to eat (this is what happens when three girls who love food go on holiday). It was a nice easy day to ease us into things after not getting to bed till gone 3am.
After going back to our dark common room dorm to chill out and have a nap, Ellie bumped into someone in the hostel reception to discover that there was over thirty Uni of Sheffield students in the same hostel as us. Being a Hallam bunch we just had to go out and show them up on their final night by our impressive drinking standards. Mix new friends, £1.50 pints, good music and a few shots (including Unicum, a local drink which is always worth a try) and the result will always be a messy, yet brilliant night.
Now this is where the fun starts. So after a very heavy night of drinking, we were woken at 10am by a man from the hostel telling us to pack our bags because we were moving rooms because ours was being painted. Now any normal person wouldn’t be impressed but would just get packed and get moved because there’s a better room waiting for you but for three woman who’ve got one of the worst hangovers in the world, one of whom (me) who’d woken up with a bunch of bed bug bites, this wasn’t exactly ideal especially when you’re then made to wait for over TWO hours for your new room to be cleaned just to walk in and find the only difference in the rooms is that this one has better beds but still no lockers. By this point we’d all simply had enough, it was nearly 1pm and decided to head for lunch before hopping into a taxi up to the Szechenyi Thermal Spa to sit, relax and soak the hangovers away.
Being outside when it’s -3°c in a lovely and warm thermal pool with the snow falling on your head and thick “fog” (water vapour from the cold air and hot springs) floating over you is an experience that I’ll never forget. It was just magical (and brought my 10 year old side out). However, then you had to get out and use a snowy towel and let me say, that wasn’t as pleasant!
Here’s a little info on the Szechenyi Baths:
In general, the baths are a must do on any trip anyone takes to Budapest. Put aside a few hours of your day to go and relax and take in the beautiful surroundings. The building is mighty impressive with detailed architecture made rather enchanting by the use of an off yellow and turquoise colour scheme. In total there are eighteen pools; three outside and fifteen inside including steam rooms, cold pools, a form of current pool (it was fun floating around and being pushed by the water) and a beer spa! They also offer a range of holistic treatments such as an aromatherapy massage and although I didn’t have one (that certainly would not have helped the hangover) I’ve heard that they are brilliant.
After finishing in the baths, we wandered back to the hostel via Heroes Square. The monument amazed me the last two times I saw it and again it amazed me this time. The monument was erected to commemorate the Magyars 1000 year history. It’s centre piece that overlooks the monument is the Archangel Gabriel and in the colonnades stand seven chieftains (those who led the Magyar tribes) and five freedom fighters (these replaced the Hasburg emperors who stood in their place before the monument was rebuilt after World War II).
That night, as we were all still suffering a little from our hangovers (mine was pretty much gone though thank god) we ventured off to our beds and had a nice early night.
That early night was certainly needed with how much sightseeing I did on the Wednesday. Ellie and me decided it’d be fun to buy a ticket with Big Bus Tour Budapest so we could explore all the sights. We started our tour at stop 19 and stayed on the bus for the whole duration so that we could see all the sights of Budapest and also see where we wanted to visit later that day. The route was really informative as every time we passed any landmarks/buildings, the commentary provided (through a little radio channel attached to the seat in front of you) detailed histories and also how the landmark is used currently. After visiting Budapest twice before this and seeing the sights but not really knowing much about them, it really helped me to understand more about the city and even made me respect the city even more. The information was in bitesize chunks as well plus you also got to listen to Hungarian music between each bit of commentary which was a nice little touch and for me personally, made the tour more engaging.
After the tour finished, we hopped off at stop 21, as this was closer to our hostel, to go and get my sunglasses (and of course after venturing back out the sun disappeared) and for us to find another layer or two to keep warm as the weather was sitting between a lovely -12°c and -15°c!
Our next stop was taking the free shuttle to explore the Buda Castle and Citadel. Before I say anything I must say this… WHAT A VIEW.
As we sat on a mini shuttle riding up around the twisty, and sometimes cobbled, streets of Buda, we we’re able to see the Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and the Buda Castle itself.
We had planned on trying to take a walking tour of the Buda Castle, including the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church, but due to some bad timetabling (and the extremely cold wind blowing up on the Buda Hills) we decided to wait for the second shuttle to the Citadel. I’m not sure if it was due to the time of year or the weather, but visiting the Citadel was a very limited experience. Don’t get me wrong, the views we’re incredible and as with all the statues in Budapest including the Liberty Statue located here, they we’re incredible too but the area just felt very closed off and more of a point in the city to get a good photo from but I’m still glad I went up as I had been trying to get up there since my last trip when I didn’t get time.
After freezing to death up at the Citadel, we decided to walk back down and head on over to our river cruise that was included with our Big Bus Tour ticket. It was nice being able to sit down and see the famous landmarks of Budapest from the river whilst also keeping nice and toasty. It was only a quick hour and a half tour with occasional commentary when we passed certain landmarks and buildings, again another tour that I reckon would be more enjoyable in better weather when you can sit on the top deck.
Wednesday evening then began with Ellie and me taking the Night Bus Tour (as you can see, we really did go for the full day of sightseeing) hoping that we might get to experience a different commentary along the route with more information on the city. Sadly that wasn’t the case so we ended up listening to music and just taking in the sights at night (which we’re stunning). We had then planned on spending the evening exploring the ruin pubs properly after Monday night but instead it turned into a repeat of Monday; meeting people, drinking £1.50 pints and dancing the night away all before my Maccy D’s just to help sober me up. I wasn’t complaining, I got to have a good dance and meet more people!
We had planned on spending Thursday morning doing the walking tour included on our bus ticket (and to also help shift the hangovers) however due to some unforeseen circumstances that didn’t happen. We were also moved again by our hostel from a dorm into a completely different hostel that wasn’t a hostel, it was more of a coach surfing situation with two 40+ year old men. Again, being hungover and dealing with this, I started to reach the end of my tether and I decided to spend £14 on moving to a new hostel for my final two nights because I didn’t feel comfortable. Just a little tip for anyone who does go travelling and becomes uncomfortable;
Don’t ever stay somewhere where you don’t feel comfortable, for whatever reason that may be. Losing an extra bit of money to improve your trip is something that will always be beneficial. Trust me, this was the best decision I made regarding where I stayed during this trip.
However, to end the bad day Donna and me went to grab a pizza and just spend a couple of hours chilling out before an early night after saying goodbye to Ellie as it was her final day with us. We came across a fast food Italian restaurant (Bellozzo) where for 1390HUF (approx. £4 which was the most expensive pizza on the menu) I managed to get a carbonara pizza. Yep, I combined my favourite pasta sauce with pizza and it was heaven.
For my final full day in Budapest I decided to go for a day of just simply wandering around and seeing where my legs would take me.
To begin with I ended up walking across the Margaret Bridge and heading onto Margaret Island for what can only be described as one of the most beautiful winter walks I’ve ever had. I spent about an hour wandering the island, passing a little bird zoo and generally seeing what the island had to offer. I can definitely say that during the summer, with the open air concert stage, casino and a thermal bath there, that you could easily spend a full day on the island and to a point even forget that you’re in a busy European city (I did just for that hour).
From there, I headed back over the Margaret Bridge and down the Pest side of the Danube past the pretty impressive Parliament building before heading back into the centre of the city to grab a hot chocolate. I ended up back at the hostel during the early evening to warm up (I accidentally had a nap too, but sometimes you’ve got to keep your body happy) just before heading back out to meet Donna for a TGI Friday’s as it was actually going to be our second to final time seeing each other before I head off to NZ! Sadly, it both gave us a very dodgy stomach the following day so on Saturday, all we did was visit a few places we had missed, including taking the Funicular up to Buda Castle (it had been closed all week, I took it last year and although it’s around £6 for a return ticket, it’ still a nice little experience). Then before you knew it, it was back to the airport to head on back to the UK. Fortunately the journey home was a much more enjoyable. Our taxi transfer turned up early, we weren’t stopped at airport security, we were only delayed by around fifteen minutes and we also had a super friendly guy sat next to us for the flight home (all we did was talk about travel). Oh, and an awesome American airline pilot.
Before I get, to answer my question I left on my post about packing for this trip, my packing list worked pretty well for the weather! The only extra clothes I could have done with was an extra pair of walking socks and a spare pair of jeans/leggings and possibly a spare hoody as I started to feel a little grim after wearing my hoody and jeans for days on end. The only other item I missed was my hair straighteners but for a trip like this, in the cold, it certainly wasn’t needed and I’m glad I didn’t take them. One thing I did forget to pack in the end was my spare mini bag (I needed it before I went and forgot to re-pack it) and I really wish I’d had that on me as it would have been super handy on the nights out and on some of my day trips. Other than that my packing list worked pretty well and I feel like I might just manage my big pack (which has already begun!!).
So yes, that was my trip to Budapest and as I said at the start, this trip had it all. It was a trip I’ll never forget, for both good and bad reasons but it’s certainly made me super excited to leave for Australia and New Zealand in a few days time.