Budapest. Better known as Buda Fkn Pest, to most young party goer expats, is not just a city overflowing with Ruin Bars and cheap Prices, but a city within Hungary that is rich in history, traditions, and filled with hidden corners and trinkets galore. I first entertained the thought of going to Budapest with a friend, who ended up not being able to come with me, but I didn't let that minor setback stop me. Let's start at the very beginning because there is something I'd like to share with you all with which hopefully can be a positive influence. Upon boarding any plane, I always pray because I'm a bit scared of flying. However, this time, I felt like this would be a flight where I would need to pray extra hard...and so I did; just like the girl at the beginning of the old Kanye West song, Ultralight Beam.
People I'm not playing games when it comes to praying for a safe flight. Gravity is not on my side if that engine decides to shut down mid-air. And midway into our flight, I thought for sure the engine did just that. Having gone through a rough patch of turbulence, I wanted to ask the guy sitting next to me to hold my hand and use my other hand to turn off my Airplane Mode in order to call my mama because I didn't think we were going to make it. Fear was written across the faces of the flight attendants that all scurried to the closest emergency exit door in case they would have to operate it.
The only thing I could think of at that time was my family and specifically my sister because three months prior we had a heated discussion and hadn't talked to each other since. And so in my heart of hearts, I told God, " If you get me through this, I'll call her and apologize, even if I still think I'm right." I know I know. I'm trying...and it's the truth, but I digress. And so, the Lord answered my prayer, and shortly after we landed, I gave her an audio message since my phone calls kept dropping. We eventually worked things out by phone when I returned to Madrid. I say all this to say, just hash things out with anyone you're having a 'problem' with before turbulence humbles you.
With that said, let's get back to my adventure. When I finally landed in Budapest, I caught the bus to the city center of Pest late that night which was about a forty-five minutes bus ride. Word of advice, always search for the public transportation as it is usually the cheapest and the most efficient way to get to the center of any city. I arrive at my hostel, Lavender Circus Hostel, which is by far the best place, I've stayed in. I booked it through Expedia and three nights there with my own room was about 120 euros more or less. This hostel is a gem with hand-drawn furniture seen on their walls, antique trinkets such as photographs, detailed hand-carved mirrors frames and regal sofas welcoming you as you enter their waiting area. I was thoroughly impressed by the details and hospitality.
The next morning, after having a full breakfast at this lovely cafe called Budapest Baristas I decided to start at the furthest point I desired to go and make my way back to the hostel. I caught the tram with my 4-day pass for seventeen euros to Margret's Island, which sits on the Danube River separating Buda from Pest. This park has everything from romantic walkways and medieval ruins, rose gardens and water parks, to open-air theaters and cinemas. After walking along the river, I decided to rent a bike at Island Hostel, to further explore the island faster. The bike rental ran about four euros for an hour. Perfect! The park wasn't full, but it definitely wasn't empty as couples were seen kissing on freshly cut lawns, children racing, athletes playing on nearby soccer fields and friends enjoying ice cream.
Afterward, I made my way to the tram so that I could go to the Parliament of Budapest, which is on Buda's side. I wanted to stick to the tight schedule I made for myself because I wanted enough time at the end of the day to visit and actually enjoy the Hot baths. Although I preferred to see Parliament lit up at night, visiting it during the day was just as rewarding. The entrance line was ridiculously long, so I opted out of that, but walking around Parliament sufficed. Up next was the Fisherman's Bastion, full of restaurants, beautiful views of the city and grand statues of critical Hungarian figures. However, before I had the opportunity to see all of these things, I was discouraged by what seemed like a mountain I had to climb to get there. The Fisherman's Bastion sits on top of a hill giving you a beautiful view of the city, but right before I exhaled to take my first step of many, out of my peripheral vision, there was a vintage shop. I LOVE vintage shops!
Now, If you're like me, a face of confusion should have come across your face once you saw the picture above, because it definitely came across mine, once I entered the vintage shop/cafe. You read correctly; Vintage and Cafe Shop. I know it may look like the place of an elderly hoarder where you're constantly asking them when they're gonna let go of this or that, and by this or that, I mean the twenty sets of the same untouched china. However, ladies and gents, this vintage/cafe offered wine, cafe or tea and a seat to take... wherever you could find one. Afterward, I went to a nearby restaurant because I was starving and decided to get one of Budapest famous soup. The soup I picked was that similar to a beef stew. It was delicious, but I will say they have a high tolerance of salt as I was looking like this after the first bite.
So having walked all over the city, my body was yearning for the Hot Baths. Before this trip, I researched which bath was the best one, and it led me to the Rudas Baths, which was also suggested to me by many locals. I entered and did not leave until three hours later even though I paid sixteen euros for the entire day. CHEAP!!!!!! Calm and relaxed, I decided to get dinner and head back to the hostel. I was BEAT!
The next morning, I decided to focus on things not too far from the hostel. So my first place of business was the Holocaust Memorial Center because I was not aware of how the Holocaust played a role in Budapest and I wanted to replace my ignorance with knowledge. One of the many things I learned was that Budapest, like Germany, had a Nazi regime called the Arrow Cross Party. Hitler had convinced Hungary's government that the Jewish community was taking over there jobs and land and that they were a threat to the livelihoods of Non-Jewish Hungarian citizens. It was a very eye-opening memorial with an excellent tour guide that focused on the general history as well as personal stories from Hungarians victims told through old letters and video.
After that emotionally charged and mentally draining tour, I headed to one of the outdoor food markets, that had an array of food, offering you anything from their soups, Italian pizza, Vietnamese food, to various desserts. Conveniently located next to the market was a Ruin Bar that I planned to go to that night, but it's happy hour somewhere in the world right? So, why not? Although the ruin bar, Szimpla Bar, didn't offer food at that time, it provided an aesthetically decorative venue that was pleasing to the eye and original with artistic pieces seen in every corner.
On the last full day in Budapest I decided to end my adventure with another spa, but this time for an actual massage. I walked about three miles visiting different recommended spas on Yelp, but unswept and slippery floors one could see when first stepping foot into these spas left me disgusted, unimpressed and quickly backing out the front door before anyone aggressively convince me to stay. I eventually stumbled upon Mandala Day Spa and Bath that was the most heavenly spa I've ever been to. Excellent service, relaxing ambiance and like many of the things I paid for, reasonably priced. Even though the massage itself was fifty euros, cookies and tea were offered to you in your waiting room with your own couch and a nearby sauna and jacuzzi. So, the fifty euros were worth it.
My trip to Budapest far exceeded my expectations and didn't break the bank AT ALL. I will definitely be coming back, but with friends to enjoy everything it has to offer. Solo traveling is something that I will always love, but there are some places that I sometimes wish I could share with another person. I think this was one of those places, but I still enjoyed my time very much. From the sumptuous food to hidden bars, Budapest is a city that is simultaneously vintage and modern, while allowing you to enjoy the greenery of various parks, nightlife and historic buildings within the two cities. So, tell me, have you visited Buda, Pest or both and which one did you prefer?