In deciding where to head to after Prague- sister in tow- Budapest was the obvious choice. Secretly..I just wanted a reason to find myself back in one of my favourite european cities.
I risked a serious blow to my nostalgia and stayed at the same hostel as last time. At least there was less getting lost!
the two of us tripped in the first afternoon after a mildly mind-numbing 7 hour bus ride from prague. The only activity manageable was a trip to Humous bar (vegetarians hold in your tears of wonder).
After grocery shopping and recovery we went out in search of a craft brewery i’d read about. Naturally, it was housed in a ruined building the used to be a glass blowing factory/studio. The beer i had was some sort of IPA, (a real sign your at a hipster hot spot since IPAs find it difficult to exist in europe) it wasn’t a hoppy as a nice imperial from home but it was really good. I badly wanted to try the dark beer everyone else held lovingly close but there was a suspicious itch in my throat that warned against overdoing anything.
A word about hippies:
I forgot if it was the second or first day but at some point our hostel was overrun by travellers fresh from the nearby rainbow festival (meeting? gathering?) . I like the philosophy of equality and sharing these guys have, after things calmed down i met some really nice people, but whoa, 20 extra people in a small hostel already booked full with a different sense of boundaries is a tough situation. especially when someone takes drugs and comes in with a bad trip at 4am. I have another word about hippies but i wont over-indulge in this post.
(p.s I think it really comes down to individuals but in this case the massive onslaught of rainbows squelched out a lot of breathing room)
Feeling ill, instead of going with my sister on the walking tour i went to the house of Terror, Budapest’s nazi/communism museum.upon leaving I felt both physically and mentally unwell! so not really a great plan.
I had a lunch/dinner of fruit juice, coconut milk and (probably) rainbows that evening in hopes of recovering.
Next day we went to momento park. it was a bit of a let down since you couldn’t learn anything about the statues without paying for a walking tour or guide (where did my entrance fee go then?). the free montage of spy training videos shown in an outbuilding was, however, golden.
Other cheap things on the list for that day were Opera.
1500 florints (6 canadian, about). we hooked up with another group going from the hostel including: a neurosurgeon, 15 year long traveler and 3 hippies (all super sweet aspiring writers). Backpacking in a nutshell.
A relaxing last day led us to Margrit island where Margaret finally had some langos. I could only manage a few bites but Margaret may have found her new favourite food.
the hostel can entirely change ones perception of a city. Budapest and me were friends the moment i stepped into the art nouveau architecture train station and spotted the sun low in the sky and hazy through the thick glass.
Also, i didn’t get lost on the way to the hostel! Fate, I’m telling you. I stayed at Madala hostel because the reviews were off the charts and they mentioned yoga in the description. Never managed to get myself to a park or anywhere for yoga in Budapest but the hostel had a zen room with a picture of the Dalai Lama decorating one of its walls. The atmosphere was the most chill and welcoming I’ve ever experienced- my favourite hostel employee took daily naps curled up like a cat on the couch below my loft bed. Of the two cats one deemed me a worthy bed on a single occasion. I will gladly except being drooled on and covered in fur any day.
Throw in some other weirdos including a troop of finish guys and a rad Aussie and robin ends up going out more than once in a week. sleep suffered a lot though and ended up being replaced with chatter and guitar playing except on the first day when i struggled out of bed at 9:30 because i though a 10:30 walking tour was a good idea. I did get to see st Mathias church which was wicked.
it was good except it meant i saw many things but ate zero things before a super traditional hungarian lunch of mushroom goulash, dumpling (things) and a very delectable fruit soup.
Hungaian history is very interesting but man; it would sure suck to be Hungary. until 1989 the country has basically been passed from conquerer to conquerer. Hungarian wasn’t even the official language until the 19th century and it’s one of the strangest most difficult to learn because it has asian roots.
One thing Hungary seems to be very good at is uprisings. When st Gellert converted the king to christianity and the peasants didn’t approve they threw him off a hill in a barrel. full of spikes. now he’s a martyr and an impressive “waterfall” gushes from the places he was thrown from. (Somehow I didn’t take pictures but imagine a ten meter high moss covered rock with a pool at the bottom and if you look very closely there are seven drops of water trickling down from the moss.)
another thing hungary does well thanks to the ottoman influence is baths. I developed a great fondness for sitting in giant pools of warm water while in Iceland and quite enjoyed a chance to prune up again, this time in a bit more luxurious locations.
no photos of the baths. I admired the swimsuited tourists dedicated enough to carry their cameras around the different pools and strike poses sitting on fountain edges but i was enjoying burning my nose and shoulders too much to be bothered. plus cameras in pools. creepy.
The last day we struggled up to the castle after the club closed to try and catch the sun rising. the bastard beat us up to the sky for a second time but a silent city sure does look extra beautiful.