I love Budapest!!! I didn't have any expectations when I went to Budapest, I didn't even know very much about it. Ok I admit it, I didn't know anything about it and it ended up being amazing! I got to Budapest around 9pm on Wednesday and I was expecting to just crash at the hostel for the night. Right as I was checking in, all of the workers said they were going with a group to watch the Portugal vs Wales Euro Cup game. They invited me to come along! I dropped my bags and went with them to a park where there were big screens showing the game. Everyone staying at the hostel was there, not many people were there at the time. It was so much fun, I met people from France, the US, Ireland, England, Finland, and of course Hungary. We hung out the rest of the night!
On Thursday I set out with my list of recommendations and the plan to join a free walking tour. My first stop was the big market hall because it was right across the street from my hostel. It was huge and there were tons of booths selling all kinds of fresh produce then upstairs there was a lot of hot food for lunch and gift shops. To get to the free walking tour I took a nice route right by the river and saw all of the beautiful bridges that cross to the Buda side of town (I was staying on the Pest side of town). The walking tour took us to see St. Steven's Basilica, the Fisherman's Baiston Lookout Tower, Matthias Church and told us some history along the way. Our guide was funny and enthusiastic and spoke with a funny cadence. This tour was a ton of walking and I felt dead afterwards so I walked back to the hostel for a little bit but then decided I wanted to see the city at night because I'd heard it was gorgeous. I once again walked along the river and took tons of pictures, Budapest really is gorgeous at night, especially Parliament. By that point I for sure wasn't walking back so I took the metro but when I got part way I went to switch lines and an announcement came on saying all of the trains were gone so get out of the metro! I was freaking out because I had no clue where I was but luckily I was a little closer to my hostel and ended up back there safely! By the end of the day I had walked 13 miles! I think that's a personal record for me and walking.
I got up earlier on Friday so I could do an early walking tour called the Communism Walk. It goes through Hungary's history with communism. They were under communist rule up until 25 years ago. At the end of this tour I was exhausted again so for the rest of the day I sat down to rest frequently while I was walking around. For lunch I had a Hungarian meal of palacsinta, it is like a thin pancake with mean inside and this delicious sauce on top. Then I walked to the House of Terror, which was a house owned by a Jewish man but it was taken from him during communist times and used to torture Hungarian citizens. Now it is a museum and by the time I got to the basement where they reconstructed the cells it became a bit too much for me. It is really sad to think about how horribly people were treated for no reason. I decided I needed a sweet treat and I found an amazing little place called the Book Café. It was over a book store and looked like the inside of a royal palace! There were murals everywhere with giant mirrors that had beautiful frames, chandeliers hung from the ceiling and a man was playing the piano. I ate a dobos torta, which is a spongy cake layered with chocolate and topped with hard caramel, it was a really amazing place. I hung out with everyone at the hostel again that night and it was so much fun! Everyone is so nice.
Saturday was my last day and it was a chill day. I finally got to eat two Hungarian specialties I had been wanting to eat, a lángos (fried dough topped with sour cream, cheese, garlic and other toppings of your choice) and goulash! They were both delicious. I spent the afternoon at the Széchenyi Bath. It is giant and looks like a palace with tons of pools that vary from freezing cold limbs go numb to very hot. I basically pool hopped for a few hours and it was lovely. That wraps up my time in Budapest, now it is time to move on to Prague!
See ya later!