Last weekend a bunch of the crew reunited together in Budapest, Hungary! We had all been doing different travels the past few weeks, so it was nice for us all (minus Tay– we missed you!!!) to be in one place together for the weekend. We had a really fun birthday dinner for Tobias on Friday night that consisted of FANTASTIC bruschetta, cake out of the pan, water balloons, cards, and lots of laughs. On Friday morning, myself, Jenna, Eliane, Tobias, and Paul hit the road to my new home– Charleroi Sud airport. lol. We arrived in Budapest by noonish and met up for lunch with Tobias’s good friend from Sweden, Sophia, and we later met up with Anisa. By the time we ate and settled into our accommodation, THE David Hasslehostel, it was mid afternoon. We decided to go on a walk into the city to explore a bit, and the weather was beautiful! It turns out our hostel was right in the center of the city so it was perfect for walking in any direction. Fun fact about the city, it is split into two parts by the river. We were staying on the “Pest” side, and across the bridge was the “Buda” side. We headed toward the “Chain Bridge” and crossed over into Buda. The city is really walkable but at the same time very thriving with cars, buses, and trams. Across the bridge we were at the base of a large hill on which sits the Royal Castle and a Cathedral. We took the path up along the hill and made it to the Castle grounds, where there was a gorgeous view of the river and Pest. It was a perfect place for tourists to wander around, plenty of walking paths and places to stop, sit and enjoy the view. We walked around the area and got to see beyond the hills into the Buda countryside. We made our way to the Cathedral and found a nice cafe that overlooked the city from above. Coincidentally, it was happy hour 🙂 So we enjoyed drinks with a view and then made our way back to Pest. For dinner, we decided to splurge a bit– though Budapest is generally quite cheap!– and got a table at an all you can eat and drink (for 2 hours) restaurant. This was definitely one of our better ideas, and we proceeded to try every item in the buffet and at the grill, ordered numerous bottles of wine, and enjoyed a ton of desserts! The atmosphere at the restaurant was really fun, there was a rowdy bachelor party at a table near us, and everyone was clearly having a great time. We made the most of our two hours at our table and then went back to the hostel before going out for the night. David Hasslehostel is definitely the biggest party hostel I’ve stayed in so far, they have drinking games every night from 8-10 and all of the workers are down to go out with the travelers. Plus, everyone was really friendly so it was a great place to meet new people from all over the world. We ended up going to a club across the street called Instant, perfect location! When we first got there it was really empty so we tore up the dance floor solo until more people started coming in. Once the music changed from the 80’s classics we had a fun night of dancing and messing around. It is so fun to be with a group of people that can laugh at themselves in a club while wearing casual clothes and dancing around ridiculously with everyone. I’ve definitely found my kind of people here 🙂 When we had tired ourselves out we headed back to the hostel to get some sleep. It was a special weekend because we had a room just for our group, happy birthday Toto 🙂
On Saturday morning Jenna, Paul and I got up early for an excursion to the caves. We were able to get a special morning tour since the afternoon one was filled, so we met up with the two Australians from our hostel who were joining us. These kids were 18 and reminded me so much of Cameron! They were loving life just messing around in Europe and were so excited to go caving. After a few bus exchanges we made it to the main entrance. We suited up in full body suits and helmets, and I brought the GoPro of course, and we were led into the caves by our guide. Our group consisted of us 5 and then 6 American girls who were studying in Barcelona. They were absolutely hilarious classic 20 something girls. The questions coming out of their mouths were comical and it was funny to watch our guide hold back laughs at the sheer stupidity of some of their questions and comments. Gotta love Americans. Anyways, the caves were incredible! Caving in Budapest consists of actually crawling through teeny tiny holes and spaces, up and down slopes, and sliding around on your butt. It was definitely the best workout I’ve had in Europe so far haha. We spent about 3 hours on a tour underground. It was really cool to see the fossils on the “ceiling” of the cave that had sea shells and other sea things because billions of years ago it had been part of the ocean. Our guide was so nimble and agile while climbing all over the place, meanwhile I’m wearing Toms with no grip and sliding all over the place, bruises on every inch of my legs and elbows. At one point we were in a chamber called the “theater” because there are apparently good acoustics, and we all shut our lights off to get an experience of true 100% darkness. It was so heavy and overwhelming! You seriously couldn’t see your hand an inch away from your face. Scary to think about your headlamps running out of battery!! A few hours we made it back out into daylight and back into the city. After a much needed shower and lunch we all met back up for our second activity of the day: a beer bike around the city! This was exactly what it sounds like. This big wagon with 8 seats and pedals around it with a little bar area and keg in the middle, being led by the guide in the front. Since there were 9 of us total and 8 seats, the person in the back had the responsibility of bar tending and cheering the team on. Another funny thing about this bike is that it moved soooo slow. So slow. People were walking faster. Which made it even more funny, especially with everyone pointing and laughing at us with our loud music blasting and us cheersing at every stop light. It was a blast! We had some great laughs and it’s a fun way to see a bit of the city in the late afternoon around happy hour. After the 2 hour beer bike we headed back to the hostel to join the group for their nightly games before going out. We played some cards and later on we ended up at a bar called Szimpla. I wish we hadn’t been so tired because it would have been a really fun place to spend the night but we just had some snacks and a drink and headed home. But the bar was huge! It had at least 20 rooms that were all kind of half indoor half outdoor. It had string lights, plants, and different music all over the place. Really fun atmosphere.
On Sunday it was finally time to go to the famous baths! It was absolutely perfect weather and we had a great walk up to the top of the city where there was a park and one of the biggest, most famous baths in the city. We walked through “Hero’s Square” and around the park that had castle-esque buildings and courtyards. Jenna , Sophia and I also ventured into the flea market that is open every weekend. It was for sure the biggest one I have ever been to. There was so much STUFF. Everything from old stamps and photos to shoes to clothes to jewelry to food to cameras… The list goes on. It was really fun to walk through and see everyone bargaining and such. After the market we finally got to the baths. For just a few euros we had an entrance ticket and each our own “cabin” in which to change and keep our things. The Hungarians love themselves a good bath, that’s for sure. This place had about 8 indoor baths, saunas and massage areas, and a huge outdoor bath with space to lay out, eat, the works. It was perfect! And it was my first chance to use my GoPro in the water!! So fun! We relaxed in the sun and warm water and enjoyed the bubbles and jets that occasionally went off from the ground. We went in the really hot ones inside and sat in the sauna. It was so relaxing and refreshing. There were a lot of older people there too, which I found really funny. They were so at ease! Everyone in their bathing suits and hair bonnets. Definitely the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. Once we were nice and pruned we walked back to the hostel before going to dinner. A few of us went to a Georgian restaurant and had some good ethnic food and then we met up for a walk across the chain bridge to see the Parliament building all lit up along the water. What a view! It’s a huge building what was perfectly lit up in yellow gold lighting. Jenna and I continued to walk down the river to the next bridge where we crossed over and walked back to our place from a different angle of the city. I swear we saw every corner of Budapest! We had a little cuddle party back at the hostel and got sleep at a decent hour.
Jenna and I had our alarms set for 5am Monday morning so that we could hike to the top of Gellert Hill to watch the sunrise! Hard to get up when it’s still dark outside, but so worth it. As we left the hostel we saw people still going into and leaving the clubs on our street. We walked about a half hour to the bottom of the hill and then trekked up on the path. By the time we got to the top it was starting to get light so we found a ledge to sit on and romantically ate frosted flakes and a clementine (lol) as the sun peaked up from across the way! It was a perfect view overlooking the river and the city with the sun behind it all. We were so lucky to have a clear morning; the sun was a gorgeous pink and orange. What a way to start the day! We laughed that right as it was coming up the garbage man was emptying the garbage behind us, classic!!!! Once it was sufficiently daylight we hiked back down and made our way back to the hostel to nap while the others were still asleep. Once we checked out later in the afternoon we still had some time before going to the airport. So we walked back towards the river and crossed onto a mini island where we relaxed in the grass and sun for a few hours. Such a nice end to a busy weekend! We got onto our 5pm flight and made it back to LLN in due time. I was anxious to get through a busy week (aka 3 days) of school because on Friday we would be starting spring break!! It was a great way to round out a month of incredible travels and experiences, I’m a happy girl!