Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day 134-136: Budapest

Overlooking the Danube (Parliament behind me on the left,
chain bridge and St. Steven's Basilica on the right)
 I had no idea what to expect from Budapest. The name sounds foreign, eastern, even a bit dangerous. My mom told me to be careful; after all, when she was last in the area, the USSR still existed. The quote that kept running through my head was a line from The Avengers, when Hawkeye says to Black Widow: "You and I remember Budapest very differently." Thanks to that, I was expecting some dark place full of intrigue, like in Black Widow's first scene in The Avengers.

Not quite sure what this was... but so fairy-tale-esque!

But, no. I arrived around noon on Monday, January 13th. It was a sunny day, and Budapest seemed dry and dusty, not cold and forbidding. Tripadvisor had warned me that taking public transit into the city was difficult, but I did it anyways and had only a minor problem (I misremembered which metro stop I had to get off at).

The Danube and Parliament at night
Kayla was already in Budapest, having flown in the night before. I met her at the hostel, which at first seemed terribly sketchy. It was small, just a half dozen rooms at the top corner of a large apartment building. The elevator was just a little terrifying- you had to manually shut the doors, and the floor sunk a bit whenever you stepped in. Still, despite initial misgivings, I think the Black Sheep Hostel might have actually been my favourite hostel on our trip, thanks to its friendly atmosphere. It had a full kitchen, so everyone sat around and ate together, especially at the complimentary breakfast. Also, since it was so small, I managed to get to know everyone in the hostel.

The Baths
We started off our time in Budapest by taking a walking tour. Almost every city we went to had free walking tours (tips appreciated) led by local guides, and they were simply invaluable for getting our bearings. In Budapest, the guide took us to a number of places we wouldn't have thought to go, as well as across the river, with some of the most gorgeous views I've ever seen.

One of the ruin bars- such a weird place!

That was the neat thing about Budapest- it's simply beautiful. While a lot of the city is rather run down, it's pretty clean for the most part and there are some majestic buildings down by the river. Their parliament is the 3rd largest in the world (it was the biggest when they built it, but two countries since have surpassed it), and they have some elegant churches, a large palace, and some lovely bridges. It's a very photogenic city, by the river at least, and I took so many photos.

The Danube, seen from the top of the hill
Over our three day stay, Kayla and I took a night riverboat cruise, toured parliament, visited the baths, and went out to the famous Ruin Pubs (old communist warehouses converted into bars) every night. We made new friends, like the boys from Oxford university's hockey team, and met up with some old ones, like another Canadian exchange student who happened to be in Budapest at the same time as us. Our stay in Budapest was busy, but so enjoyable, and I'd definitely recommend it as a sort of 'different' European destination. 

No comments:

Post a Comment