'My house in Budapest, my hidden treasure chest...' Yes that's right we're off to Budapest! Trip number 2 of the year has arrived. Work had finished, the car was packed so we piled in and began the journey.
Stansted is bloody miles away isn't it? Crikey! What a long drive. It didn't help that we were in stand still traffic for about an hour. There was supposedly a huge crash but as the traffic started to move, we didn't see much evidence of a crash though, just a few cars on the hard shoulder.
After a brief services stop we continued on our way. It was getting darker and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. We missed the exit we needed to take which resulting in us driving back down the m11 for an additional 10 miles in the wrong direction to then take the exit, turn round and drive back 10 miles. We didn't miss it the second time...my eyes were wide open at this point. Bec got us all there in one piece, we were happy!
The b&b was lovely, a little old man called Bryan welcomed us. He gave us some rules, took our breakfast orders and then showed us to our room. He was quite the comical little man, very posh. From the pictures around his house he definitely had a Thai bride.
There were four beds in the one room, two normal single beds, a single mattress on the floor and well... My bed. The tiny half a single bed in the corner of the room. I'm not kidding my feet were hanging off the edge. I've never slept in a bed that's actually too small for me, I'm only 5ft5. I felt like luck was not on my side that day. I was looking forward to some sleep and hoped that Friday would be a better day.
Bryan was up bright and early to cook us our breakfast. A full English always goes down well before a flight. There was a creepy portrait of what we think was is wife, watching over us while we ate.
He then came in the car with us to he airport. He was a human sat nav... "Coming up is a roundabout, take the first left and follow the road..." It wasn't a long drive, we said goodbye to Bryan and made our way to departures.
We bumped into Carys and Emma at the entrance which was handy. We were now all together.
Going through security Carrie got stopped with not just one but two of her hand luggage bags. There were liquids still in both, so they had to be checked through a separate security machine to check for anything dangerous. Carrie carrying dangerous liquids? I don't think so!
We stopped for some bubbles...in spoons of course. We weren't classy enough for the fizz bar. Plus it was £7.50 for a glass of champagne. In Spoons you got a bottle for £20, so that was the obvious option.
On the plane we were all separated. That's the problem with booking separately. During the flight a guy opposite me moved seats. I called Vicky up just for some company but this stuck up cow who clearly thought a lot of herself had already moved over. I told her that I'd asked my friend to come up and she just turned to her trophy boyfriend and rolled her eyes. Did she pay for that extra seat? No!! She'd only moved over to give the seat in the middle to her bloody bag, which wasn't even that nice. I gave her evils throughout the flight. What a b****.
'Welcome to Budapest!' We had arrived after the most boring bloody flight and guess what? It was raining. We booked a taxi to take us to the hostel as it was so cheap. Of course Vicky got in the drivers side in the front, think she wanted to drive us there herself.
It was a long taxi drive and the traffic was awful, it also didn't help that the hostel had two buildings so trying to find it delayed us slightly. Luckily they were kinda next door to each other. It was an amazing hostel. You had to buzz through this huge door into a beautiful old architectural building, there were definitely flats there as well. Then after a little walk through the courtyard was the hostel. We had an 8 bed dorm to ourselves which was awesome, and the hostel was so quiet it was like we were the only ones there.
At this point we were pretty hungry so we went on a walk to get food. We walked up and down different streets in the pouring rain, but we had no idea where we were and we were clearly in the wrong area for pubs and restaurants. It was great to explore the city but on empty stomachs and in the rain it got quite frustrating.
After lots of walking we stumbled across this cute little Hungarian restaurant. Yes , it was food time! I ordered a chicken, bacon and cheese dish, which sounded quite delicious on the menu. Then it came! My dish was just full of onions. It was my idea of hell on a plate. People seriously need to put warning signs for onions on their menus. Instead of happily eating my meal, I picked and scraped at every chicken piece I found. Not ideal. Everyone else enjoyed the food though, but found it quite stodgy. I think a lot of the food in Hungary is either deep fried or full of fat. We were in for a belly growing weekend.
The Pub crawl was on the agenda for the first night. We all got our glad rags on and began the walk to the first bar. Now we were told that it was a 15/20 minute walk. Was it hell! It turned out to be a 50 minute walk. Finally we arrived! We were parched by the time we got there, but it turned out that we were also late. We met the bar crawl guide and she told us they were leaving. So we arrived at the first bar, had a look at the toilets and had to leave again. What a joke? The bar looked awesome as well, but we had to leave and the walk continued.
The second bar was cool, that's where we made friends with a few of the guys in the other hostel, Steve and Iwan. We finally got our drinks.
The bars are incredible and very quirky in Budapest. Right up my street. All the buildings seemed to have different levels and were quite run down, they're called ruin bars and Budapest is quite famous for them. I love the idea of turning an abandoned run down building into a bar. The only change I would make is ban smoking. They still smoke indoors over there, it was taking me back to the days when my clothes stank and my chest was tight. Not great but embraced the culture.
Not only were the bars amazing but it was so cheap: a pint was about £1.50 in every bar, or about £1.80 for a high quality spirit. Imagine happy hour prices! Crikey, that would be dangerous.
After a couple of stops in a few different bars, we stopped for a slice of Pizza, which we were all very much looking forward to. I felt rushed to make my decision as the woman was such a cow, hurrying me along. I saw a slice of pepperoni, so I took that. After being forced into making a decision the slice turned out to be freezing anyway as was Carys's pizza. All the other girls had a fresh slice. I think we both had food envy.
The last bar we went to was one of the main Hungarian ruin bars. It was amazing in there, lots of nooks and crannies around. There were hidden corridors and rooms. I loved it, it had such a good vibe. We met two guys from the US in this bar, Eric and his friend. They joined our group for the night.
Carys, Becky, Carrie and I went for a wander to see what different rooms we could find. We found one room that played so many good songs so went to grab everyone else to join us for a dance.
We stayed and danced for ages in there, building up a sweat. It was bloody boiling in there. I asked the Dj for timber(obvious song choice) he said yes but I waited and waited...and it never came. I tried getting his attention he just kept ignoring me saying leave me alone. I was finding that Hungarian people were just rude and very moody.
After lots of dancing, it was home time, so we left and made our way back to the hostel. We didn't realise how far away we actually were. But it was far! We didn't know where the hell we were either. We walked for a little while and then waited for a tram...but nothing came. Some guys helped us out and told us to jump on a bus instead, which we did and we made it back safely.
The next morning we were up early for the free walking tour. It was quite a walk to the meeting point of the tour. Whoever said Budapest was a small city and that you can walk around in about 30 minutes is a massive liar. It was never going to be small really was it? There are two cities (Buda and Pest) and we had only walked part of the Pest city, which was big enough.
We made it to the walking tour group in time, but before going anywhere we had to sign a disclaimer...how dangerous was the walking tour going to be? We chose our guide and started the tour.
We stopped on the river looking at the bridge that joins Buda and Pest. The first thing we were told was how to pronounce Budapest. So it's actually pronounced Budapesht not Pest. George Ezra got that wrong didn't he? Slightly embarrassing for him. Our guide also told us that although Budapest is now one city the two sides are very different, not only in how it looks (Buda is very hilly and Pest is flat) but culturally different as well. Buda has the history and the older ruins and Pest is the more touristy side where the bars and clubs are.
Along the walkway by the river there was a 7 year old princess statue. Our guide told us that you're supposed to rub her knees for good luck. He said that it's not usually acceptable to touch young girls but in this case it's ok. Good to know that it's not usually acceptable!
We continued on our walk, but made sure we waited for the green man at every light. Jay walking in Budapest is illegal. So even if you cross the road when there's no traffic but there's also no green man you can get a £100 fine. How crazy is that?
We walked through the park and down some quirky little streets. The city looked so different when the sun was out. Such a beautiful city. The building were all restricted to 96 meters in height. I would tell you why but I missed the part where the guide explained, sorry I can't pass that info on. The architecture was incredible as well, although there were some beasts hidden amongst the beauties. The guide told us that when some of the buildings had fallen they were rebuilt with cheaper materials. It did look quite strange to see these ugly buildings here and there.
We were told that over the years when areas of the city had been under construction the workers kept finding unexploded bombs from world war 2. To this day they have found nearly 300 unexploded bombs! 300?!? How insane is that? We had to be careful we didn't stomp around too much, didn't want one of those bombs exploding underneath us.
So...did you know that Hungary are the second country in the world for highest alcohol consumption? I was quite shocked at this fact. They love their wine and beer, also some drink called Balica. The guide told us that most Hungarians, when they have a sore throat drink this. It's basically a fruit alcohol shot which he said if you drink it 5 times a day, not only will it cure the infection but it will count as your 5 a day as well. I then understood why they were the second country in the world for highest alcohol consumption. If they use alcohol to cure illness they have problems.
As we made our way to the Bridge which would lead us to the Buda side we all rubbed a fat statues belly. Apparently it's lucky and it will lead you to good food but after I'd rubbed my hand on the belly the guide said it's also good if you're looking to start a family. Erm... nope, not me not quite yet thank you very much.
We got taught some Hungarian on the tour. We learned how to say '2 beers please.' The standard sentence most people learn in different languages. So here it is... 'két sört kérek'. I know what you're thinking, and yes, I did google translate that for the spelling. He said the way to remember it was 'Két' is pronounced Katie like Katie Perry. 'Sört' is pronounced shirt and 'kérek' is pronounced key rack like where you hang your keys. So there you go, you've just learned a sentence in Hungarian. Not the easiest language in the world. Actually if you listen to someone speak the language they sound like they're speaking the language of yoda from Star Wars.
It was time to meet the Buda side. So we walked over chain bridge to meet the hill we were going to climb. The hangover was kicking in at this point and the thought of a hill climb was not exciting. We stopped at the bottom to get some snacks and drinks before making our way up Palace Hill. I did see that there was a tram ride up to the top. Why couldn't we take that up?
Getting to the top was well worth the climb, the views were stunning. You could see the whole city of Pest. We kept losing the guide at the top of the hill, we were so caught up in taking selfies with the view in the background. I think we got shots of the view from all angles.
The last stop on the tour was Fisherman’s Bastion. We thought the views from the palace were amazing until we arrived there. The views were just breathtaking. It was time to leave the tour guide and continue on our own. We were there for ages taking picture after picture. We were all pretty hungry at this point but kept getting carried away with picture taking. Carrie was very hungry though and was starting to get Hangry. We did eventually get to the bottom of the hill again.
Back at the Pest side we walked for quite a while trying to find food. My feet were crippled, well everyone's were. Vicky took her boots off for a bit, her feet were so sweaty she was making a trail of sweat footprints on the floor.
We managed to find a little bistro, so we stopped for lunch. As we sat down Carrie said 'Time goes so quickly, I can't believe it's Sunday already!' ...Erm it was Saturday Carrie. All that walking and hunger made her lose track of time.
Vicks food came out first and she had finished it before anyone else's food came out. We all just stared at her in envy, we even picked at her food like scavengers. We were all sat in silence while we waited as our only train of thought was food food food. Bec said they must have gone to kill the chicken, cow and pig that's why it took so long. The door was open as well and it was freezing in there, we all put our coats on as a hint for them to just shut the door, Emma even put her hood up. They didn't get the hint so I just got up and shut the door in the end.
The food didn't last long when it came. We all pretty much wolfed it down. The service had been pretty poor in there to be honest. When we asked for the bill they acknowledged us but then went off to chat to their mates, or fix the stereo. Were they serious? We just wanted to pay and leave: they even had the cheek to add a service charge onto the bill.
It was almost time for the rugby, so we made our way back to the hostel to get our Welsh shirts on to then start drinking session number 2. We were on a mission to find an Irish bar we were recommended. Well the four Welsh supporters were, Carrie and Emma were strolling behind. I'd never walked so fast if I'm honest. I was running to keep up with the others.
We searched but just couldn't find the Irish bar, so we stopped in a Scottish bar instead. Carrie was a happy bunny. We sat upstairs with our pints to watch the game. There were a big group of Irish lads next to us who were cheering us on, which was great. Unfortunately Wales lost but what a great game of rugby. They fought hard this rugby World Cup. Maybe in four years they'll reach the final. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
At this point Vicky had started to measure her eyes. Don't ask me why. The weirdest thing was that as she was measuring them, with her fingers may I add, she kept closing her eyes doing it, of course it's going to look like you have no eyes if you close them Vick.
We managed to find a tiny little stool in the pub, I gave it to Vicky and set her the challenge of having stupid pictures with her say on the chair throughout the night. Of course she accepted this challenge.
After a few pints we decided to go and find the Irish bar we were looking for before the game. Steve was there so we thought we'd go and join him to show our support for New Zealand. We walked and asked people where it was but nobody really seemed to know. We did come across it in the end thanks to one person from the areas who actually knew where it was. It was a lovely Irish bar but not that busy and the staff were pretty rude. Nothing new there with the staff in Budapest.
We found Steve watching the game so we joined them for a bit. We were all doing ridiculous Hakka impressions. If anyone watched us doing it I can guarantee we wouldn't scare or intimidate anyone, which is what it's meant to do. We would just be laughed at.
After a little while we went to visit the most famous ruin bar, Szimplakurt. It was huge in there. Again very quirky and a number of different rooms and walkways. The ruin bars a seriously amazing. I recommend anyone coming to Budapest to visit them on a night out.
The girls were pretty tired at this point, well apart from me and Vicky, so we stayed out and went searching for the Ruin bar, 'Instant' that we were at the first night. We were walking for ages but couldn't seem to find it. We asked a few different people and all of them told us different directions. That also seems to be a common theme here. When you ask someone for directions, instead of saying they don't know they will just send you to where they think it is. This is a problem, when you ask someone else closer to where you want to go and they tell you to go a completely different way. It's just quite a challenge finding places.
We decided to use a map and try navigation our way around the city ourselves. On the way, we passed two American people. They also needed directions, we were trying to help them but the 1 guy was wasted and was being really irritating, snatching the map from us and so on. The girl that was with him was trying to persuade us to go to this party they were going to. We weren't keen, the boy was pretty weird so god knows where they were going. We jumped back in the map and carried on.
Well we were so relieved when we found it. It turned out that we were expert navigators! We were really impressed with ourselves and went straight to the bar for some well deserved vodka. At this point Vicky had lost the stool...challenge failed!
The room we were in on the Friday was pretty dead, so we went to find a different room. We ended up in a dance/trance room. The music was pretty hardcore but we joined a group of old men on the dance floor and started dancing. Vicky pulled out the robot move for a while, which was highly entertaining.
There was a guy watching us upstairs and when he left the room he whispered something to me...I have no idea what he said so just left it there. We took a venture downstairs and bumped into a Welsh lady that had just been watching the game where we had watched it. We chatted for a while, mostly about rugby, but as we were chatting that guy from upstairs appeared again. This time he whispered in my ear again, and said 'I love you!' As if that wasn't bad enough he then licked my ear! He LICKED my ear!!!! What the hell! I couldn't believe it. How disgusting is that? Vicky offered her sleeve to me straight away to wipe it. Thanks Vick haha.
After that horrendous moment we decided to head back to the hostel. We hopped on a bus back to the river front. McDonald's happened to be right in front of us when we got of the bus so of course we stopped to have a bite to eat, but after ordering we got kicked out of there because they were closing. That meant it was bed time for us.
We had quite a nice lie in Sunday morning. We didn't have anything booked so we decided to have a day of leisure. We all had some breakfast and then made our way to the Gellert baths, one of the oldest baths in Budapest.
The walk there was a killer. It started off lovely, strolling down the river bank on a beautiful sunny day but after about 40 minutes I got sick of the bloody river. We did pass the memorial 'shoes on Danube bank', it was such a lovely idea for a memorial of the people that died during the war. It was very touching.
We got Gellert hill and decided to walk up there, as it was a way to get to the baths, plus, at the top was the best viewpoint in Budapest. At this point my feet were in so much pain, so much so that I'm pretty sure they were bleeding, and if I stopped I wouldn't have been able to move any further, so I took lead and powered up to the top of the hill. I was on a mission. Seriously...it was agonising. We figured out later that day that it was the equivalent of 48 floors. That's one way of burning the calories I suppose.
At the top, the view was incredible I must say. You could literally see the whole of Budapest from this point, but after about 5 minutes you'd seen it all and the thought of going back down the hill hit me!
We were all very sweaty and achy and were definitely ready to hit the baths. Some relaxation was needed. We were just hoping that the baths we had chosen weren't where Sparti's took place. Basically they are a massive orgy. The thing is there would have definitely been a lot of strong swimmers in those baths... but not the ones you want swimming with you.
The baths were in this huge beautiful building. It looked like a hotel, the painting and tiling inside were very picturesque. We bought our day pass wristbands and went to get changed.
As we were walking to the first pool area, directly in my eyesight was legs and a penis just dangling there. It was just staring right at us. Was it really necessary to have it out? I started to worry that we were heading to a sparti.
We got to the first pool area, there were two pools, one was a swimming area and the other was a hot bath. You could only use the swimming area if you had a swim cap, which we didn't so we went in the 35degree bath. Nice and hot! The main thing I noticed walking into the pool area was that it was definitely a hang out place for old people. They were everywhere, not that it's a bad thing but it felt kinda weird at times.
The first bath got kinda crowded so we went and ventured to find the other pools.
There were another two to the left of the main room, which were 35degrees and 38degrees. The 38degree pool was great, my ideal temperature. We relaxed in there for a little while and had a little gossip. We went into the steam room for a bit, but I found it kinda weird that you couldn't see anyone in there, made me feel slightly uncomfortable.
Carys was just chilling in the plunge pool...yes the freezing ice cold pool. Vicky and Becky decided to take a plunge in with her because they were hot. That is my idea of hell so I gave that a miss. It does help with circulation though so maybe I need to man up and do it one day.
We then made our way to the other side to try the last two pools out. One was 40degrees there. That was Emma's favourite but no one else's. It was extremely hot and quite unbearable after 10minutes.
It got to the point where we were shrivelling like prunes so we made the decision to get out and find somewhere for a nice lunch.
Back in the changing room there was just boobs and vaginas everywhere, nobody seemed bothered about being butt naked. They were just strolling around the changing room. It wasn't the biggest changing room either so you had to be careful about how you moved around. It would have been slightly awkward if you just nudged someone's boob.
We all got showered and changed, it was finally time to leave. It was a lovely afternoon but I'd seen enough saggy boobs, vaginas and wobbly bums to last a lifetime.
We were all starved so we crossed over the bridge back to the Pest side and went on the hunt for a nice restaurant.
There were a lot of restaurants in the area, all with people outside trying to entice us in with their picture menus. Anywhere with a picture menu and someone trying to grab you outside usually means the food is pants and will look nothing like the pictures. Amongst all of those there was a cute little place, where the menu had no pictures. We took our chances and went in. We sat outside on the heated patio area and I wrapped myself in a blanket. I love the bars and restaurants there, most of them have blankets outside for when you get cold. It's such a lovely idea, especially as people in Budapest seem to love being outdoors.
We all went for the deal of the day which was Goulash soup (a traditional Hungarian meal) and a pizza. The soup was delicious, I didn't want it to end. The best thing about it was that there were no onions! Winner!
After our delicious meal we began the long walk back to the hostel, having a nose in some souvenir shops and little boutiques on the way. It had been such a lovely day.
Back at the hostel we had a little chill time before going out for our last evening. We decided to go slightly more sophisticated for the last night and went to a lovely little wine bar a few doors down from the hostel.
We all sat at the bar, basically taking up the whole bar area. It was so cheap in there we decided to start with a bottle of Prosecco to toast the great weekend we had had, plus we all love the bubbles. Vicky got to be the wine taster again as she had been earlier in the other restaurant. They all seem to know how to spot the alcoholic.
After the Prosecco we all ordered different glasses of wine. After one glass it turned into a free wine tasting session. There were bottles and glasses of wine everywhere, with glasses being passed around all of us. The barman had chosen a lovely, slightly sweet wine for me, I was keen to try sweeter so he brought 3 over to me. The first one wasn't too bad but the other two honestly just tasted like a pile of sugar in my mouth. Seriously disgusting. I stuck to the wine he originally gave me.
While we were there we ordered some tapas as well. We all shared a cheese board, which was delicious. That was satisfying for Becky, Emma and me but the other girls were still hungry. The order went from a cheese board to a ham board then a selection of breads topped off with a bowl of olives. Quite the feast really! By 11pm we were the only ones left in the bar, still sipping on glasses of wine. It was just the perfect end to the weekend although we did feel like the barmen wanted to close up after a little while so we paid our bill and made the short walk back to the hostel.
We were all pretty wide awake at this point so we got some cards and played some blackjack and s***head. s***head took a while to finish, Emma didn't quite grasp the concept of the game. It was hilarious.
Our last morning in Budapest had arrived. We packed, checked out and decided to go for a little wander before getting our taxi to the airport. Carys and Emma's flight was much later than ours so they went their own way and continued sightseeing. We said our goodbyes and started walking back towards the little shops for some last minute buys.
On route we picked up some gelato ice cream which were scooped in the shape of flowers. I had a strawberry and elderflower sorbet with yoghurt flavour ice cream. It was heavenly!
On the walk back to get our taxi we happened to pass the changing of the guards outside the parliament building which was pretty cool. Once their shift has finished they're there taking selfies with all the people watching! How random!
The rain had returned to the city at this point, which meant that it was time for us to leave Budapest. What an incredible weekend in an amazing city. I now need to get home and take some time to recover from the trauma of my ear being licked and to think about next years destination. Where will it be I wonder? Thanks Budapest you've been amazing.
Until next time