This past weekend I embarked on my first trip of the New Year to Budapest, Hungary. Not only did I meet up with an old friend whom I studied abroad in Rome with, but I had an incredible experience in my 20th country. Since arriving in Madrid, I purposely had organized all my bigger trips for the second term. Continuing my love for traveling, whether it’s by myself or with friends, I have a new bucket list running and I can’t wait to explore more of Eastern Europe. Following the holiday season, most of the trips that I've wanted have already gone on sale. Currently, I am in the planning stages and have been scheduling a trip every month alternating those domestic and those trips outside of Spain.
On my first day in Budapest I left on a Thursday, and made up the day I’d miss the week before. Since Iberia Airlines had changed my flight from Friday to Thursday, I was a little nervous about how my school would react for missing a day, but luckily they were great and I’ve caught up on all my sick and missed days. Since I only had a limited time, as soon as I got to the hotel, I was out and about. The first few highlights I saw on Thursday evening were the Hungarian Parliament Building, the St. Stephen Basilica, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, and Buda Castle. Considering it got dark everyday at 4:15pm and it was all grey, freezing, and partly snowing, I’d say I’d conquered most of the day. Out of everything I’d seen Thursday evening, the Hungarian Parliament was the most incredible site with its many lights that gave the building a bold luminescent and golden glow.
Friday I was up and out of the D8 Hotel by 10AM. In a carefully planned self made itinerary, I got brunch, went to the Opera House, visited the Jewish Quarter and the two Synagogues, passed the Shoes on the Danube, and then crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge a few more times to see Buda Castle up close along with the Fisherman’s Bastion and the famous Matthias Church. By 4:00pm that evening, my French-American friend had made it to Budapest, and we spent the evening visiting the places I had been on Thursday. After a nice dinner in the Jewish Quarter’s market place we went to one of Hungary’s most popular rated ruin bars. Unfortunately, they are permanently closing in a week which was disappointing news... but I am so glad I could experience it before they were gone. In case you were wondering, ruin bars are bars that have opened in old abandoned and worn down buildings. Instead of being demolished, they were bought and converted into hip and cheap bars. Overall, it was a long day for me but I have no regrets. In the end, my fitbit had revealed that I had walked 14 miles (22.5km)... quite rewarding.
Saturday was quite exciting as well since we had gotten a light breakfast and then walked about 45-50 minutes to the amazing Széchenyi Turkish Thermal Baths. Not only was it far more gorgeous in person but they had so many pools of different temperatures both inside and outdoors. My only regret was not getting a massage as well. Following the baths, my friend and I got a cheap small lunch at McDonalds (haha) to save our money for the famous renaissance themed New York Palace Café. After the Cafe we decided to go home and relax as my friend was leaving later that evening.
On Sunday, after my friend had left for the airport at 3:30AM, I had only a few hours of sleep because I was trying to squeeze in two more quick visits to both the Gellért Baths and the Central Market. While I enjoyed Gellért just as much as Széchenyi, I found the Széchenyi more enjoyable. Budapest truly was one of my best trips, right up there with Greece and Croatia from back in 2018. Budapest really is an underrated country in my opinion especially when compared to Prague. I strongly encourage my friends to visit and see more than just the amazing baths. I wish that travel sites would advertise Budapest more. Although you could probably see the whole city leisurely within a week, it really had a lot to offer. Despite it being freezing, visiting in Winter wasn't as bad as it could have been. Lastly, I am really excited for the next six months because of all my big plans for new adventures. Coming up I have Prague, Vienna, País Vasco, Valencia, Tenerife, and possibly Málaga. Until next time.