After a train ride that started out in what looked like a nice, quiet Harry Potter cabin, we were soon disturbed by a conductor who stood and proclaimed ‘BACKPACKS’ whilst pointing down the train. Proceeding to turn into mad dash against other backpackers for seats in cabins miles away. Regardless, the views of endless sunflower fields and vibrant blue lakes made up for the sprinting induced sweat.
I must say, the scariest part of our whole trip was passport and ticket control aboard the trains. I had already accepted that I must have broken 10 laws, would definitely be fined thousands for blinking more than twice a minute and taken to a dark room to be interrogated on my reasons for entering the country, all before they’d reached my side of the cabin. But everything was fine and I survived a long glare at my passport.
So after getting off the train and realising we were on the wrong side of the city and too much of cheap skates to get a taxi, we trekked to the million miles to one of our favourite hostels of the trip – Wombat city Hostel.
Budapest really is everything people hype it up to be. This really especially, so many people I know have taken short trips to the glorious city, coming back with the same opinions as me, it’s indescribable. Call me stupid but I didn’t even know that Budapest is made up of two cities, separated by the river Danube. One side being ‘Buda’, which was the tame, archaeological and more slow motion side of the city, where as the ‘Pest’ side was filled with the Jewish culture and the vibrancy of the nightlife you can only imagine within the Ruin bars.
We embarked on a 3 hour, free walking tour on our first morning, which I really do recommend for those on a budget, we got so much knowledge for absolutely nothing, (tips are still expected out of gratitude) such as the history of St. Steven and their food culture and the tour guides really know how to accommodate for every person. It was a shame we didn’t have time to go on their Jewish tour! It covered both sides of the city, starting in Pest’s town centre by Café Rouge and ending at the Cathedral on the Buda side. Here are just a few snaps from our wander.
We also took a tour of the Hospital in the rock, which was so chilling as a preservation of a Hungarian bunker hospital used in both WW1 & WW2. They’d set up dummies of people to recreate static frames of what each room was used for, making it a lot more real and nauseating. This combined with our visit to the Hungarian history museum and ‘House of Terror’ the day after really forced you to think about Hungary during the wars. In Britain, we are taught so much about the British and Germans and Russians involvement in the war and Hungary seems to be skimmed over, if at all. When in fact, it’s arguable that Hungary turned out 100000 times worse than anyone else after the war, having no one but a Nazi downfall to pick up their pieces. (Not to turn this into a passionate history lecture…). It was just so shocking to walk around the actual rooms where civilians were kept hostage, tortured and read their stories, whilst the secret police lived their lives right in the floors above their heads.
On a much lighter note, we spent our second morning at the Szechenyi Baths and my gosh I wish I’d taken pictures the inside. I’d seen pictures online so already expected something spectacular but the royalty of this place was something else. We got there around 10am to a really quiet selection of outside pools and inside thermal spa baths. I’d absolutely love to claim myself as a lover of Saunas and steam rooms like Noah and Simon because ‘it does wonder for your soul and skin!’ but honestly…I lasted about 2 minutes in the sauna before I felt like I was going to self-combust and didn’t even manage to sit down before I left the steam room in a panic that I was going to suffocate. So I spent my morning in the salt and mineral pools with the jets soothing my achy spine. It was the most relaxing day I’ve ever had and would have spent my whole time touring the different bath spas they have around Budapest. Obviously sun bathing was a must to finish off the morning so we didn’t go home looking like wet, pruney rats, however it turns out I was the only one with a slight bit of common sense to put on sun cream. So Simon ended up with what resembled third degree burns…oops!
There are so many other things I wished I could have seen/done in Budapest, leading it to always have a presence in my heart and a passion to return to. The ruin bars were crazy amazing; I wish I could explain them in a way that would do them justice. The people are so friendly, the food is so cheap and our roommate Constance was one of my highlights.
I want to take everyone to Budapest. Please go.
Here’s to Prague,