Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great ringing in for 2016. I have a post coming up about resolutions, including my own for 2016! Hopefully will be a big year 🙂
Thanks for enjoying my last post, about Vienna. Continuing on for my trip, is my 2 day trip to Budapest. As I had said on my last post, I had arranged to take the train from Vienna to Budapest. However, when I first arrived at the train station in Vienna, I was incredibly confused!
I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, but two things I’ve learnt from my travels is that (one) you have to be willing to look like a complete noob and (two) you have to be willing to ask people for help. No one looks cool when trying to figure out where you are with a huge map infront of you (or your cell phone and your pointing it in all 4 directions so that you can figure which way you’re supposed to start walking). It’s going to happen and you just have to role with it! Asking people for help is also huge! This is something that I’m not great at, and I suffer because of it. Generally, people are incredibly helpful and willing to point you in the right direction. When I arrived at the Vienna train station, I couldn’t find any mention of my train to Budapest. As the Paris attacks were very recent, I began to panic that my train had been cancelled. Had I just asked someone, they would’ve directed me upstairs, to where there was a larger board showing all trains. However, instead I wandered around for nearly 30 minutes before I found where I needed to go.
Thankfully, my train was still scheduled to leave as planned, and I still had some time to kill by the time I sorted everything out.
While waiting for my train, I ended up getting into a conversation with an Australian girl who was also traveling by herself, and her and I ended up sitting beside each other for the train journey. It made my entire day brighter because of this- as her and I traded travel stories, and I think I laughed the entire time. My favourite part was that she was keeping a list of everything she had learnt during her travels, and it included very potent things (such as, people are deeper than you think) as well as silly things (it’s amazing how long you can hold your pee when there are no toilets in sight).
Sadly, once arriving in Budapest, we were both staying in different areas, so we went our separate ways. However, having someone to talk with during the train was a great break in a trip on my own. Once arriving in Budapest (and checking into my hotel), I decided to brave the rain and wander around for what I told myself would be a 30 minute walk.
I first came across a beautiful Jewish synagogue. It’s one of the top 10 sites of Budapest, and I can absolutely see why. The details were beautiful.
I continued wandering, and found the main part of town, near the river. Budapest was originally two towns, one called Buda, and the other Pest, and they are separated by the river. They became a unified city, and went with a simple name “Budapest”.
Even though I was there in mid-November, it still felt very fall-like while I was there. As I crossed the river, I came across a beautiful park, which had amazing green, yellows, oranges and reds. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, the colours don’t pop in the below picture nearly as much as they did in life.
By the time I wondered past the synagogue, and over the river, my original 30 minute plan of wandering had already been close to an hour. I snapped the below selfie, as I was laughing at myself for the ridiculousness of not having an umbrella! Unfortunately, I never did find anywhere that was open, so I put my hood up, and continued wandering around in the rain. I kept telling myself I would turn around in 10 more minutes, but then would see something else that I wanted to see. Finally, I asked myself what would I remember at the end of the trip? Would I remember toughing it out and seeing the sites around me, or would I remember the fact that I got a little wet, and so spent the day in my hotel? Even a month and a half later, I remember that I got wet, but it’s more of a fond memory that I’m really glad I have. Especially as next on my list of things to see was Budapest Castle.
The below is the first glimpse I had of the Budapest Castle. At the time I was walking by, I didn’t actually realise that’s what it was, so I snapped this picture, thinking it was just a pretty stand-alone building.
To get up to the Budapest castle, you can either take a short train ride, or you can walk up the stairs. Since I was already soaking wet from being in the rain, I decided to continue going, and rather than taking the below train ride, opted for the stairs.
Due to taking the stairs, I ended up being able to wander all around without paying anything. It was probably one of the cheapest travel days that I’ve ever had! The castle itself was beautiful, and had me continuing to wander around, despite the fact it was starting to get dark, and I was getting cold.
The castle was completed in 1265 (which is almost 300 years before Canada was discovered by the French, fun fact). Hungary was formerly part of Austria (as per my last post, Austria used to be a larger empire than it now is), so the castle was actually for the Hasburg family (the Austrian royal family). I didn’t have much of a chance to explore the castle, but if I ever come back, I would spend more of my time here.
As the sun set, I enjoyed the beautiful views that the castle showcased.
By the time I got back to my hotel, I had walked just over 14 km. I was completely soaked and chilled to the bone. I thankfully had packed myself a pair of sweats (as my plan had always been to enjoy the evenings in my hotel), so I changed into those, a pair of fuzzy socks, and enjoyed some wine and chocolate while I warmed up.I was right in the middle of a busy area with several restaurants, so I was able to enjoy some food within 10 feet of my hotel, and then slept amazingly well.
The next morning, the sun was (thankfully) shining again. I found a cute little coffee shop, where the owner was originally from London so made my ordering process much easier! I took my coffee to go, and sat outside the Jewish synagogue, and people watched; while also enjoying the sun, and journaled a bit. It was a moment of perfect contentment, and I could’ve sat there for the rest of the day.
However, I did eventually get myself to move, and I walked up to the beautiful thermal baths. I went to Szechenyi Thermal Bath. Hungary has many thermal springs, and Budapest is known as “City of Baths”. I’ve always wanted to check out a European bath house, so that’s exactly what I did.
The Szechenyi Thermal Bath was beautiful. It was built in 1913, and has 3 pools outside, and 13 inside. Each pool is a different temperature (with the coldest being just 19 degrees, and the warmest being 38). I sat and soaked in the water for the better part of the afternoon- enjoying the sun and some relaxation. At one point, I even had a nap on an indoor sitting area.
At first it felt kind of weird to be there by myself. I would’ve loved to be sat with my friends, and enjoying it. However, the longer I sat there, the more I just relaxed into my own thoughts, and stopped feeling self conscious that other people were noticing anything about me. It ended up being one of the most relaxing experiences that I have had, as it was almost meditative as I sat in the water and just enjoyed myself.
On the way back from the thermal baths, I stopped at “Heroes square”, which commemorates Budapest’s 1,000 year old history. I would’ve completely missed it, however I had to walk right by it, to get back to my hotel.
And from there, I headed to the airport, as my short 4 day solo-trip was done. I thought Budapest was absolutely beautiful, but Vienna was my favourite due to the palace tour I had gone on.
Due to Assen’s and my schedule opening up very last minute, we ended up flying to New York the very next day! I had booked my Vienna/Budapest trip a couple months in advance, however we only booked our flight to New York 6 days before we left! It was very spontaneous and made even more exciting because of that. We had such an early flight that I didn’t even bother going to bed. By the time my flight landed from Budapest, and I took all the trains/taxis needed to get back to Cambridge, it was already 1 am. I unpacked from my trip, and re-packed for New York, had a quick shower, and we were off to the airport.
More on that in a bit- promise!
Has anyone else been to Budapest? What did you think of it?