Budapest

The last stop on our Spring Break was most surprisingly my favorite city by far.  Berlin has a cool hipster scene with loads of history to immerse yourself in.  Prague is visually stimulating with an enticing nightlife.  Vienna is pretty stuffy but still has lots of culture and history.

But Budapest.

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After our long day of travel getting from Vienna to Budapest, it was so relieving to be in Hungary. This stunning train station was like out of a movie.

Budapest has character.  The people were friendly.  The shops were quirky, ranging from vintage floral shops to huge thrift stores that dreams are made of.  Breathtaking views and a new cuisine to explore.

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Our first dinner- a 10 euro, three-course extravagant dinner with creamy Chicken Paprikash (a famous and traditional Hungarian dish) and the best pork chop of our lives.  Paprika is famously used in a number of Hungarian dishes and it was so nice to have a few deliciously spicy meals.

Our first night we went out to one of Budapest’s most famous “ruins” pubs.  These huge  old warehouses are converted into these bar/clubs and they are a wonder to be in.  Walls are covered with strange art, tables adorned with candles and hookahs, there are huge open air spaces so you can’t tell if you’re inside or outside, and in this particular bar a black and white foreign film was being screened on a huge wall..  Apparently it was ranked the third best bar in the world.  And it didn’t disappoint.

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We met new people, danced, talked, smoked, and explored the expansive floors with surprises around each corner. Taking going out to a whole new level.

 

Fun Fact:  Did you know the Rubik’s Cube is a Hungarian invention?

We went on a really great free walking tour on our 2nd day in Budapest.  We learned about the pride that Hungarians have in their culture, history, and complicated language.  Did you know the first metro line in Europe was built in Budapest?  Now, it’s rickety rackety metal boxes strung together underground, but it serves as a reminder that it was the first one ever built.  Hasn’t changed much.

After seeing Vienna's opera house, it was interesting to compare it to its little sister.   Apparently as the story goes, Budapest wanted an opera house after Vienna built one.  So the guys in charge in Austria said all right you can build one, but it has to be much smaller and less cool than our opera house.  Sneaky Budapest architect said okay.  He built a smaller opera house, but one with a much more beautiful and breathtaking interior.
After seeing Vienna’s opera house, it was interesting to compare it to its little sister. Apparently as the story goes, Budapest wanted an opera house after Vienna built one. So the guys in charge in Austria said all right you can build one, but it has to be much smaller and less cool than our opera house. Sneaky Budapest architect said okay. He built a smaller opera house, but one with a much more beautiful and breathtaking interior.
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A famous print of the opera house.  I bought the postcard version.
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Right across the street from Hungary’s last standing Soviet monument, that serves as a reminder of the period of time that Hungary was under Soviet control after WWII, stands the statue of this handsome guy. Why is Ronald Reagan’s statue in Hungary? He’s celebrated as one of the leaders who helped to secure Hungarian independence by fighting to abolish communism.
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We’ve rubbed plenty of things in Europe for good luck, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if I won the lottery sometime soon.  Or got sick.  This policeman’s belly is rubbed for good luck. Or, apparently, you might just end up pregnant…
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Parliament Building- a government building that looks like a castle.
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The Chain Bridge, with the Budapest Castle in the background. There’s a story behind the four lions- apparently the sculptor said he had made these lions perfect. If anyone could spot a mistake then he would commit suicide. A little boy climbed up and noticed the sculptor forgot tongues for the lions! The sculptor jumped off the bridge and drowned in the Danube. womp womp.
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My favorite view of the city from the Pest side- the funicular, km 0 of the city, Chain Bridge, and St. Stephen’s Basilica

After lunch and a quick nap, we decided to decompress at the famous Szechenyi baths.

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For about 3 hours, Liza and I sat together in silence and we relaxed in the number of outdoor and indoor pools.  We hopped in and out of pools that ranged in temperature and that were filled with natural medicinal water.  We people watched.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of people there who didn’t look like they were tourists. Like the group of guys with hairy chests that played chess in the pool.  Or the old ladies that were running against the swirling water in a lukewarm pool (of course I hopped in there with them for a mini “work-out”).  We left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, like royalty.

The next day, we climbed Gellert Hill

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On top of Gellert Hill sits the Liberty Monument

Like so many things while traveling, the photographs are unable to do it justice.

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The Buda side of the city is on the east of the Danube River while the Pest side is on the west of the Danube
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BDPST.

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We laid under the lavender tree and talked about life

On our way to St. Stephen’s Basilica, we ran into a market celebrating springtime.

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Budapest is the cutest

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The prettiest and best smelling potpourri
The prettiest and best smelling potpourri

Last stop- St. Stephen’s Basilica.

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We came on Easter Sunday and so we were lucky enough to see a service happening.
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Climbed to the top of the Basilica for better views. I know this is a recurring theme throughout my travels. We’re suckers for great views.
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Don’t fall!!!!
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For once, the inevitable rain enhanced a photo opp. Outside the Basilica.

Budapest is Europe’s biggest hidden gem, in my humble opinion.  I think there isn’t enough hype that surrounds this city.  The city is so walkable, with so many activities to do, things to see, and a delicious new cuisine to try all at very reasonable prices.  That’s why I think it is absolutely perfect for students traveling in Europe.  GO to Budapest!

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