I made it safe and sound to Budapest, but my luggage had other plans. This should have tipped me off to the wild ride I was about to go on while travelling around central Europe by myself for the next 9 days. Let me remind you that I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I am definitely one of the more fun ones. This being said, I need to explain that I do not have internet in Europe unless I am on WiFi. This is out of pure archaic principle and stubbornness and not using my “burner phone” because I can’t handle one phone let alone two. But I digress. I made it to the correct intersection in Budapest during a downpour, but I could not find my hostel for the life of me. I wandered, I walked across the same crosswalk three times, and finally decided to ask someone. I walked into this record shop around the corner that was hidden from the main street. I shook like a dog and probably got the vintage vinyls wet. I had a big smile – the type you use when you need help – and I approached this big bald man behind the desk in the back of the store. After explaining the lost luggage and inability to google my hostel, this man decided he was not only going to tell me where it was, he was going to lead me there. So he got, put on his rain jacket, and with a slight look of pity announced to all of his customers that he would be gone for a few minutes, and for them to just hold down the fort. WHAT.
After running around in the rain, the shopkeeper gave up but wished me well. A few minutes later I unintentionally found my hostel and I could finally sit down in my cozy 8-person room and plan my day. Soon I was off and on the cutest blue metro (which smelled like smoke and was giving me straight Soviet Union vibes) headed to the Central Market Hall. One thing had slipped my mind – it was Saturday. Have you ever been to a world famous market on a Saturday? It’s exactly what you imagine…. absolute chaos. I had heard to go upstairs for food, and my rain soaked stomach was rumbling, so I got in the very long line to apparently get the best food in town. I had no idea that my life was about to change forever. I ended up getting a langos. Let me simplify this for you…. a langos is essentially a funnel cake covered in sour cream and pizza toppings. It immediately reminded me of the donut burger found at county fairs, and fear struck as I realized Hungary out-America-ed America with this langos. I soon found out the traditional one had sour cream, garlic, and cheese. It was traditional, amazing, mouth watering, and slightly sickening in the best way possible. I was craving another only hours after my first. I would return to get three langos(es?) during my time there.
Leaving the market and walking down the most famous shopping street in Budapest I had this strange (not strange) craving (withdrawal headache) for coffee. A few steps later and I was inside Cafe Frei, a world coffee bar. For a self proclaimed coffee connoisseur like myself, I was in heaven. You pick your coffee order off a map, and if that isn’t bliss I don’t know what is. I was then sufficiently fueled for my trek (by bus) up Buda Hill to Fisherman’s Bastion, where absolutely not one single person could take a decent photo of me with one of the most beautiful backgrounds in the world. Luckily for my fans, I have become an expert selfie taker with famous backgrounds around the world. Next on the agenda was the romantic wine tasting I had booked the night before in the cellar underneath Buda Hill. After getting lost in what seemed like a dungeon underground, I was met by the the best sommelier I think I will ever meet. His name was Gabor, which absolutely sounds like a Disney characters name, and he truly did treat me like a princess. He sat down with me to explain all about each wine and answered all of my 20-year-old-not-yet-legal-I-drink-wine-out-of-box questions, and I actually learned so much. He did say my pace was quite fast, but who could blame me. My visual entertainment for that night was couples in love celebrating anniversaries and milestones, and the feeling of a proposal coming at any moment at other tables was so intense that I was actually nervous for them. It was thrilling. Then there was me, chatting with Gabor and getting tipsy.
The next day I strolled out of bed in the same clothes for the second day in a row to ask the front desk guy to try and get my luggage. He called the airline and spoke in Hungarian (wow, what a language) for about five minutes and two hours later my luggage was in my hands. On this ecstatic note, I decided to go to St. Istvan’s Church and I witnessed part of a mass in Hungarian. I have now gone to church and heard masses in English, Danish, French, Spanish, and Hungarian. I think I am officially cultured.
After narrowly making it across the Chain Bridge due to hurricane force winds, I made it to the famous funicular that promised to take me hassle free up to Buda Castle. What they don’t tell you is that when it’s a nice day and the sun is out it is a thirty minute line to pay to be lazy and be driven up a literal mountain. Nah, I would climb, I was feeling ambitious. While feeling like I was floating from the altitude overlooking the entire city, I overheard American girls searching for someone to take their picture, so I offered, and they took mine as well. They struck up a conversation and explained they were on a class trip for Connecticut College. For a moment, talking about American schools made me feel like I wasn’t in central Europe. We said goodbye and I made my way to the street market. After being perplexed by a puzzle box and spending probably an absurd amount of money on it, I had worked up an appetite. So, I got goulash (a Hungarian classic) in a bread bowl (Goodbye, Panera) and had a beer overlooking Matthias church and the rest of Pest. All this eating and drinking and the slight hike made me think I deserved to be pampered, so I headed to Gellert Baths. Gellert Baths is like the younger sister – who is actually prettier and would steal the boyfriend of – of the more famous Szechenyi Baths that you see on brochures. It was on the side of a mountain and had the most beautiful mosaic tile and mural filled walls and fountains. They even had a mint flavored sauna. I was there alternating between hot-tubs and showers for a good three hours, and it was the best part of my whole trip. I am finally learning how to relax on vacation.
The third day was a doozy… it included going to the underwhelming Szechenyi Baths, being found by my Connecticut college girls (who I spent the whole day with), another langos, and finding a beer hall in the back of a whale (shaped building) named after Jonah. The owner offered to pick me up at 8:30pm for a date that night, and I contemplated thinking I could get free beer for life if it worked out, but I did not agree even after he confiscated my phone and took selfies of us. My also included a BBQ double bacon cheeseburger from a hidden food truck rest stop, as well as a ruin bar that scarily reminded me of my room when it is dirty. The third day ended with a beer in my hand and a cotton candy sunset that turned to night which displayed the famous bright lights of the Danube River. I went back to the hostel and I went to bed early, I had a train to catch the next morning….
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