Blast this song to get you in the mood to follow our adventure! Unless you’re in the office…
Day 1-2 – Budapest: Swimming In Your Own Filth
We took an overnight train from Sibiu, Romania to Budapest, Hungary for $26 CAD/person, giving you a seat in a basic cabin of six. This does not include access to a sleeper or an electrical outlet. We were approached by a conductor offering us an upgrade to a cabin with a sleeper for an extra $28 CAD. Without hesitation, Clair jumped at the offer. If you have the cash to spare, we recommend the upgrade. They provide clean linen and it’s nice to lay down for the night and avoid the cricked neck. Don’t get too comfortable though because you will be abruptly awoken by border guards in the middle of the night, exiting Romania and entering Hungary.
Our train arrived in Budapest at 5 AM and we were checking into our Air B&B at 10 AM. It was a cold morning and the train station is open-air, so we were forced to huddle together by the entrance of McDonald’s to wait it out. When the worker unlocked the door to open at 6 AM, we basically rushed the restaurant to warm up. We were pretty happy with our Air B&B when we checked in, and especially because there had been such slim pickings when we were looking for accommodations over a weekend. We would recommend booking ahead if you’re going to be staying in a large city in Europe over a weekend, because many hostels and the better Air B&B’s will be booked up. You can usually find a hotel, but you could be left with a dump or high prices. We settled on an Air B&B that was the size of a shoe box at $50 CAD/night, but the host did a good enough job using the available space.
What do you think about when someone yells Budapest? Thermal baths right?!? With such a rough start to the day, we couldn’t think of a better place to start off our trip. There are a bunch of baths to choose from, which are scattered throughout the city. Here’s a guide that might help with your selection process. We settled on the Gellert Thermal Baths. The price is $25 CAD/person. Apparently, there is an outdoor pool but it was under construction while we were there. Don’t forget to bring your towel and sandals, although this can be rented at the front desk. It felt good to get a soak in, but there was also something kinda gross about it. We’re sure they keep the water clean, but knowing that hundreds of people flock to these warm/hot waters makes us squirm. It can also be challenging navigating through the maze, and there’s not really any guidance in terms of the proper cycle someone should apply of hot vs cold treatment. The architecture of the Gellert building itself is quite impressive, inside and out. We didn’t really get what all the fuss is about, but maybe we chose the wrong thermal bath. Or it could be that neither of us like baths.
Our Dogs Are Burning!
We intended on joining the Free Walking Tour of the city when we realized that a hundred others thought the same thing. Wow! We’ve never seen that big of a crowd for a walking tour. Forget that! We decided to tour the city for ourselves. Oh man…did we put on miles that day.
Kik – My dogs are burning!
Clair – Haha! It’s my dogs are ‘barking’, dummy.
Kik – That’s what I meant…
We kicked off our self-guided tour, with a Hungarian sausage in hand, to the Chain Bridge leading to the Buda Castle and Citadel. Surprisingly, this is all open to the public at no charge. If you want to tour inside the castle, then you’ll need to pay an entrance fee. We fully intended on exploring the Labyrinth of the Buda Castle, a network of caves running underneath the castle, but from what we understand they are permanently closed. If you still want to get a taste of the labyrinths, check out the Labirintus. Be sure to bring cash, as they don’t accept credit card payment.
Our journey then brought us to a scene out of the Game of Thrones series, the Matthias Church and surrounding area. The sun was beaming off the white stone and coloured roof tiles of the gigantic church. You also get beautiful views of the massive Hungarian Parliament Building across the river. We had to get a closer look at this beast! The easiest way would’ve been to just swim across the river, instead we had another 4 KM’s of walking. Sure, we could’ve jumped on a tram or taxi, but we’re very stubborn and out of shape. On our way to the Parliament we checked a popular recreational area, Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube River. We sat in the grass to catch our breath and prepared ourselves to continue on to the Parliament. We were interested in doing the tour of the inside but tickets aren’t cheap at $25 CAD/person, not to mention we were pretty tired of walking. We snapped a few photos and headed back to our Air B&B.
After resting our feet, we cleaned ourselves up for a night out on the town. We were told to check out the ruin pubs for a good nightlife (Thanks Adam!) These bars, lounges and nightclubs were amazing. They are built on the ruins of old abandoned buildings. Check out this blog for more info on what you can find here. On our way to the pubs we were entertained by couples making out, a few people puking on the streets, and people flocking to McDonald’s, and IT WAS ONLY 10 PM! We chose to sit and grab a few drinks at Mazel Tov. It was very cool in there with vines hanging from the ceiling and great 50’s-70’s music. Here’s a guide to help you select a ruin pub in the area. Kik was Shazaming songs like it was going out of style!
We Came, We Went
Now, with time being of the essence, we knew we would have to move on. This has definitely been a challenge for us, as we are used to being able to come and go as we please and explore more areas of a country, not just the capital city. We crammed in as much as we could in our two days in Budapest, and although this isn’t nearly enough time, we were really impressed with how beautiful this city is. It’s no wonder why it’s nicknamed ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’. We would highly recommend visiting this city because it has so much to offer for any type of traveler.
Next stop, Vienna! And sorry to disappoint you Randy, we don’t think they make Old Vienna (OV) here.