Episode 15 - Fun in the Budapest Sun
In this episode, we talked about our amazing 4 day trip to Budapest, Hungary!
We journeyed to Budapest via the popular bus line called RegioJet, a.k.a. Student Agency. It took us about seven and a half hours to get to Budapest from Prague, Czech Republic, where we currently live. We arrived on Friday, June 2nd around 3 or 4 o'clock.
When we arrived, we headed straight to our AirBNB from the bus station where we were dropped off. We used the metro to get there. Our AirBNB turned out to have an amazing location (at Oktogon metro station), which we were very happy about! However, upon walking inside our AirBNB, we weren't too excited about it. It was the first AirBNB we had chosen to stay at that had no reviews. We chose it because it was decently priced and had a great location.
When we walked in, we noticed that the bedroom was dingy, dirty, and old. The bathroom was really run-down and dirty as well and the water for the shower was cold more often than not. So, it wasn't that great, but the location made it significantly more tolerable.
After setting our things down, we were desperate for some food and stumbled upon a scrumptious fish restaurant called Halmuhely (they don't have a website, but their address is Terez krt. 3). We had some of the most flavorful and juicy fish in our lives there! And it was such a refreshing meal because we hadn't had really good fish in a long time, since Prague is a landlocked country and all.
After dinner, we headed to Szimpla Kert, a famous ruin bar in Budapest. What is a ruin bar, you ask? I'm glad you asked! A ruin bar is a bar built into an abandoned store, lot, or building. Ruin bars are incredibly cool and "hip," the two best words we could muster in the podcast to describe these bars. They are decorated in what seems to be recycled materials, you can write on the walls, there's music playing, and there are multiple rooms and corridors to discover inside.
In Szimpla Kert, there were tons of cool rooms with awesome and eye-catching decorations and we loved every second of our time there.
We actually met up with a couple of couchsurfers there. We had a couple of beers, then headed back to one of the couchsurfers apartments for some authentic and delicious Indian treats (how cultural of us, right?). After that, we wandered into some clubs and danced and drank some more!
Then, we finished the night with some mind-blowingly delicious kebabs and wandered back to our AirBNB.
We woke up early, grabbed a light breakfast from some cafe we stumbled upon, and walked to Hősök tere, or Heroes' Square, to admire some beautiful monuments. After that, we walked around the City Park and checked out Vajdahunyad Castle, which was more captivating than we thought it would be!
After walking around for a while, we were incredibly hot and felt it was the perfect opportunity to experience the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. This is a Turkish spa, which uses natural and healing water from a well. There are indoor and outdoor pools where you can soak and wash all your troubles away. Considering it was a nice day outside, we wanted to wade in the outdoor pools. After having to rent bathing suits because we foolishly forgot to bring bathing suits on our trip, we changed and walked through the indoor area and into the outdoor area.
Upon walking outside, we noticed three different large pools with clear and mesmerizing water. The pools were surrounded by the spa's old yellow building and there were tons of happy people everywhere. We instantly threw our stuff down and hopped into the closest pool.
It was so luxurious....but also, so impossibly warm! Since it's a thermal bath, the water is warm. Normally, that would be spectacular and we would never leave the pool. However, since it was about 90 degrees out and the water was the same temperature, it wasn't exactly relaxing. We wanted so much to thoroughly enjoy the pool, but we were just so uncomfortable!
Eventually, we got out and got into one of the other two pools. We skipped the middle pool because it was specifically for swimming laps. With one step into the other pool, we almost dove in because we were so excited-- it was a normal, cooler temperature! We actually smiled from ear to ear and jumped for joy in the pool! It was exactly what we wanted-- a relaxing, cool pool.
It was such a relaxing and overall wonderful experience. Note to those who want to go to the spa: remember a bathing suit and sunscreen! We forgot both and that was not a good move!
After our relaxing day at the spa, we wandered around outside, trying to find the public transportation. Eventually, after dripping tons of sweat and having to stop at a random cafe for water and WiFi, we found the metro. We then took the metro to a restaurant our AirBNB host suggested us to try, which was called Elesztohaz. This place had a courtyard and buildings on two sides of the courtyard. The courtyard had benches for people to sit and eat. Then, the right building had tons of different and homemade beers. In the left building, there was food, which had tons of fresh, drool-worthy meat for sandwiches. We ate some of the best pastrami sandwiches of our lives there! Such an outstanding recommendation!
After gorging ourselves, we wandered around the area, soon discovering it was a boring area but had to keep walking anyway to hopefully find a metro or some sort of public transportation. Eventually, we did and headed back to our AirBNB to relax for a minute.
Around nightfall, I wanted to see the St. Stephen's Basilica, which was only a fifteen-minute walk from our place. Upon discovering it, though, I realized that it wasn't that magical up close, simply because we were at an angle where the building was "too close" for us to really admire it. So, we walked a half a block more and discovered an area called Deák Ferenc Tér Square, which had a ferris wheel (humorously named "Budapest Eye!") and tons of people just hanging out and drinking! Of course, we felt that we should partake, so we headed to a nearby supermarket, bought a bottle of wine and some plastic cups, and sat in the park and drank!
We woke up early and explored the entire day again! Our first stop was the Chain Bridge, which was actually in walking distance from the Deák Ferenc tér square. We walked over the bridge, which wasn't exactly an exciting bridge itself, but the view it gave us of the river and the city was wonderful!
On the other side of the bridge (the "Buda" side of the city), we walked up to the Buda Castle. There was the option to take a funicular up to the castle, but there were just way too many people on line, so we simply chose to walk, which ended up being fine because the walk up the hill to the castle wasn't that bad.
At the top of the hill and on the castle grounds, there was a little marketplace, where vendors were selling all sorts of fun items to tourists, from food and drinks, to jewelry and even fur carpets! The castle grounds also provided a gorgeous view of the city.
After a relatively short stay, we made our way back down the hill because I desperately wanted to see the Fisherman's Bastion. However, we had no idea on how to get there from the castle! So, we asked a guy at an information booth near the castle furnicular and he told us we had to either go on a tour (NOT happening) or take the public bus 16 and get off on the third stop. (By the way, we totally didn't have a bus ticket or anything, so we rode the bus technically illegally. Whoops!)
We followed his directions and arrived at Fisherman's Bastion about 10 minutes later and... wow. What a spectacular place! The church itself has a myriad of colors on its roof and is next to a white stone wall with mini-steeples on the hillside, overlooking the city. I cannot stress this enough: it was our favorite place to visit in Budapest. It was just mesmerizing!
After gauking at the Fisherman's Bastion, we hopped on the bus 16 and--surprise!--it took us all the way back to Deák Ferenc tér Square! So, as it turns out, we could've just taken the bus from there to the castle and Fisherman's Bastion instead of walking over the bridge in the sweltering sun. Oh well!
As for food, we went to the same place for breakfast and dinner! It was a 3 minute walk from our AirBNB and had traditional, affordable, and delectable Hungarian food! The place was called Like Restaurant and Cafe and it was a great find!
We also did some research and found that there is a tram in Budapest with amazing views. So, we instantly decided to check that out after dinner. It was two stops on a different tram from our AirBNB (I'm telling you, it was an amazing location!). We got off, crossed the street, and found Tram #2 at the Jaszai Mari Ter stop.
The first stop on the #2 tram was the Parliament Building. We had seen the building from a distance a few times already that day, but we wanted to see it up close and personal, so we got off. What a great decision that was! The building was grand, intricate, and gorgeous. We admired as much of it as we could.
After wandering around that area for a bit, we hopped back on the #2 tram. We were able to see spectacular views of the river, Buda Castle, and several other buildings along the river. It was a beautiful ride! Eventually, we got off and got on another #2 tram going back the way we came. Luckily we did because almost immediately after, it started down-pouring!
We stayed on the tram up until the last stop, which was exactly where we wanted to go anyway, and it conveniently stopped raining at that point, too! We got off the tram and walked back to our AirBNB, which was maybe a twenty-minute walk (again, prime location!).
Our bus wasn't until 5:40 pm, so we took it easy for the most part, but still managed to explore just a bit. We discovered this amazing place for some delicious Hungarian and other food. It was called Belvárosi Disznótoros and they had some seriously amazing food for an amazing price and portion! We loaded our plates up with some meat and side dishes!
Side note: it's on Király street, as is a plethora of bars, clubs, restaurants, and so on. It's a very happening street and we highly recommend it if you go to Budapest!
On our walk back to our AirBNB from the restaurant, we actually ran into another travel blogger-- Chris the Freelancer! It was almost like meeting a celebrity! What a small world we like in, huh?
Finally, 5:40 rolled around, and we took RegioJet back to Prague, which was great because they had TVs for every seat and on-board service!
Marilyn: I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing Budapest was. I'd heard about it being great, but I was honestly not really expecting it to be as great as it was! I loved it there! It's one of my favorite cities now. There's so much to do and experience. The public transportation is great as well. The people were nice there, too, and most of them spoke English, which definitely helped. The food was good and as was the architecture. What's not to love?!
Matt: I loved Budapest, too! Based on only the three nights we spent there, it's easily my favorite city of all time. I didn't know what to expect from it, either, but it really blew my mind. There was just so much for us to see and experience in three days. You can drink openly, chill in a gorgeous, clean, and comforting spa, and hang out in bumpin' streets. It's also a walkable city, which was amazing! We honestly didn't take public transportation too much because everything was accessible on foot. The prices were amazing, too! It was so cheap there-- almost the same as the cheap prices in Prague!
Here is our Budapest video, in case you missed it!
Wine: Horse Heaven Hills - Cabernet Sauvignon (USA)
What was your experience in Budapest? What was your favorite place in Budapest? Do you agree or disagree with our take on the city?