Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Budapest, Part 2: Hungary For More

I was thinking to myself just now, wouldn’t it be terribly clever of me if I punned all my post titles after the country?? Prague, CHECK (CZECH. BOOM. DOUBLE POINTS). Budapest, CHECK. But then I realized that my next stop is Slovenia, so that idea just kind of died in the water.

Anyhow, BUDAPEST. STILL HERE.  STILL LOVING IT.  I’ve gotten the chance to wander the streets a bit more, and for some reason, one of my most favorite things is seeing amongst the impressive, pretty, re-done buildings, small glimpses of war/Soviet-era buildings peeking through. I love the dichotomy. I’m such an artist/wordsmith.

Look how prettttttttty! Old + new

Cafe culture abounds

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • I had grand intentions of getting to the Hungarian Parliament building this morning (I’ve heard the interior architecture is nothing short of elaborately amazing), but they only let you in with a tour, of which there are only 3 English ones a day. Our tour guide yesterday recommended I go at 8am this morning to ensure a spot, so of course I tried my darnedest and got there a little past 11am, which, last I checked, kind of rounds to 8.  So yes, the English tours were fully booked for the day, but it was still great getting to see the building up close. They went all out in constructing it in honor of Hungary’s 1,000th year anniversary in 1896. 

Hungarian Parliament!

  • It turned out great anyhow, because 1.) As I was walking around Parliament, they were having a guard ceremony out back, which was awesome to watch; and 2.) I got to walk along the banks of the Danube and look out at Buda, which was SO pretty.

It's a guard sword ceremony!

I don’t usually take these kinds of photos, but the man 
commanded us to all come take photos with him 
after the ceremony, and I’m nothing if not obedient

    Walking along the Danube River, choco croissant in hand

    Walking along the Danube River, choco croissant in stomach

    • Bill then came and met me at the House of Terror, a museum that stands at the old headquarters of the Gestapo-like Nazi Party of Hungary, followed by the secret Communist police (the Soviet KGB of Hungary) - double evils.  Both groups did a lot of terrorizing, executing, interrogating, etc. in the building. Honestly, I found it especially interesting because most of it is stuff we never learn in history class. For example, I think we all kind of assume (or I did, anyway), that after the Nazis lost power, things must have improved in the war-torn regions because the “evil” was gone. But the museum kind of showed that wasn’t the case - when the Allies won and the Soviets took over Hungary, there were things happening that were just as terrible and oppressive as when the Nazis were in power; i.e. eliminating all those who could potentially be a threat to Communism - and in terrible, terrible ways.

    Underground interrogation rooms/prison cells in the House of Terror

    • To get on my mini-soapbox for a hot second, can I just say that in school, we don’t learn nearly enough about history in other parts of the world?  Half the things I’ve seen and heard and learned about the past couple weeks, I’ve literally never even heard about, ever. Which makes me feel like an idiot American. Ok, stepping of my soapbox. Just a small step though, bc it was a small soapbox. 
    • Went to the Szechenyi Baths, the most famous thermal baths in Budapest; my moment of the day.
    • Later that night, Bill and I joined some of my new hostel roommates for drinks at the largest ruin bar in the city, called Instant. They should make that place a maze, for real. It kind of reminded me of being in Sleep No More. 

    Irish roomies

    Moment of the Day:
    Budapest is well-known for its thermal baths, which is funneled in from the city’s hot springs - it’s both a cultural experience, as well as a relaxing one. There are definitely naked baths, but the well-known ones are swimsuit-friendly now.


      We visited the Szechenyi Baths, which were amazing - they’re a big tourist attraction now, but tons of locals still come to relax or use the natural “healing” minerals in the waters. Our tour guide was saying that sometimes doctors will write prescriptions for patients to go to the thermal baths, and the patient can show the prescription and get in for free. 

      There were large outdoor pools of varying temperatures, as well as indoor saunas and pools, all with different mineral levels, some with jets or fountains. It was incredibly relaxing, and the building itself is so gorgeous and historic and uniquely Hungarian.  Truly an experience.  

      Of course across the street from the baths, it's a castle

      Fun Facts of the Day:
      • There is a kiwi in my bag right now that I stole from my hotel in the Czech Republic and have been hauling around ever since. It’s visited 3+ countries already.
        I will haul you around the world, kiwi, until you start ripening! I'll show you
      • Ok, it's not just Czech train station escalators that move at lightning speeds. It's all Eastern European train station escalators (you should have seen the Hungarian one!).  And it must just be train stations, because I was in a shopping center staring at the escalator, and it was disappointingly slow.
      • There is a spa party (...SPARTY??) at the baths every weekend - like full-on, deejays and club music and dancing in the heated pools and such - which I was dying to go to. And then I met someone who went, and she said it was the most hedonistic, dude-filled (hmm I can see this somehow), gross/dirrrrty experience of her life. Ok, that doesn't sound fun. Dream-killer.
      • Everything is SO CHEAP in Budapest!  A beer is like, $1, and vodka/sodas are like, $2.  I definitely took out way too many Hungarian Forints for this endeavor. The 275 Forint to $1 exchange rate definitely didn't help my math skills either. For the first day, I would stare at menus with prices at 1,500 Forint and have zero idea how much it was 

      MVP(s) of the Day:
      My four Irish roommates - seriously, the most hilarious, energetic, cutest girls ever -  for showing me that Snapchat is not in any danger of dying out anytime soon. And for hijacking my phone and leaving the following snaps on my story:


      Budapest was the first city I was genuinely sad to leave - the next morning, I was having my last morning coffee on one of the prettiest patios ever, and savoring every last second.

      Last Budapest breakfast. I love Euro bread

      Dear Budapest - you are so, so cute and I will make sure to come back someday.  Viszlát!


      1. I think it's time for an escalator video.

        Also, I'm super jealous. Everything looks so amazing!

        1. Only for you -

          Uhhhh feel free to join on my world adventure anytime!!!!