Budapest: A Great Addition to our Trip!
June 16th to 18th
Our ninth country to visit was Hungary, where we spent a couple days in the city of Budapest. Budapest has quite an interesting history, having had many different countries take over control and being communist. Now, a democratic country, things are changing in the country, but you can still see many different influences throughout the city.
We arrived in Budapest later afternoon, and went out to stroll around the city a bit in the evening. It was quite cool to see it at night with all the buildings and bridges, some being very cool to look at, all lit up. There were also a few squares in the city that were so filled with young people at night that it was a very cool atmosphere. The squares were packed! I felt like all the young people in the city were probably in those few squares. They were all just chilling and drinking and having a good time. We didn't stay out too late though to take in the scene as we were both tired, and there was always the next night.
The next day we decided to do a walking tour of Budapest. Our tour guides were both Hungarian and full of great information and tips for seeing the city. I found it really interesting to hear about the different countries that had taken control of Hungary. As the tour guide said, when everyone got there, they all loved it so much that they all forgot to leave, and stayed for a long time. Such as the Turkish people. But they don't mind the Turkish people since they brought with them and left behind the bathing houses and culture that went with it. Now, throughout Budapest, there are a bunch of bathing houses that are very popular. We were also told that the average monthly income of a Hungarian person is €550. Not much at all. But, unless you are talking about money or politics, the Hungarians are very happy people!
On our walking tour we met Sheldon, a guy from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (For you non-Canadians, Saskatchewan is our neighboring province to the west back home.) After the tour, Meghan, Sheldon and I went in search of a big market we had heard about on the tour. We had been told you could find some delicious Hungarian dishes there, and being hungry, we thought it sounded like a pretty great idea to try out some of the foods. I think that was a pretty solid decision. I had a stuffed pepper and potatoes - delicious! Sheldon tried a pumpkin dish, and I don't really know what Meghan's was, but both had fillings are were also very very good!
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. Meghan and I separated from Sheldon and headed to the train station to book some train tickets to Prague for the next day, but when we got to the train station we chose we didn't see any ticket booths. It didn't look like any international trains, so instead we decided to buy tickets the next morning and do some shopping since there was a shopping mall conveniently next door to the the train station we were at. And I bought a pair of shorts for about $2, so I was happy with our shopping choice!
That evening, we met up with Sheldon at his hostel. He had been told there were some people going on a pub crawl that night and told us to come too, so that was the plan. But, as we sat in the bar below the hostel having a drink while we waited for everyone to leave, the pub crawl left without us. So, the three of us and another guy from Australia - Peter - decided to make our own fun. We finished our drinks and headed out on the town to find another little pub. We had been told on the walking tour that the Jewish district, which was very close to where we were, was full of little pubs, so we went in that direction. We ended up finding some really cool places. There are these 'ruins bars' in Budapest, which are basically old homes that were left empty that have now been converted into bars. The first one we went into looked small from the front, but as you walked farther in the place became huge! It was a bunch of different bars and a shisha bar that all shared the same courtyard-sort-of-area. And it was so full! Definitely a cool place to check out. We stopped in there for a bit, then moved on to another place, which was very similar. It looked small from the outside but once you were in there were a few different bars and lots of people. So if you are ever in Budapest, spend a night wandering around checking out the bars - you won't regret it!
Our last day was spent wandering around more of Budapest. Meghan and I went to the train station to book our train tickets, but the woman said we didn't need a reservation for seats with our Eurail pass, so it was sort of a waste of time to go, but in the end we ended up walking to a park on Margareta island in the middle of the river. It was a really nice park and it was good to just walk around and enjoy it. We also walked past the Parliament building, which is a huge, beautiful building. Then, that night, it was off to Prague!