After having such an amazing time in Prague, it was really hard to top it; but then came Budapest.
After Vienna, we took off in the morning with a stop for lunch in Bratislava, which is the tiny capital city of Slovakia, and famously portrayed in the movie “Eurotrip”. Which might I add, is very inaccurately portrayed at that. Although tiny, it is beautiful and charming. Not a whole lot to do on the exploration front, but still a pleasant stop on route to Budapest.
From the moment we got there to the moment we left, this city had so much to offer. This trip in particular is filled with a lot of history and culture- Budapest is the epitome of just that.
Once we arrived, we had a few hours to relax before the start of the evening. From there our bus took us on a driving tour of the city. We drove over to the Buda side of the city while getting a quick history lesson. We arrived to our first viewpoint, which I must say, may just be on of the best ones Europe has to offer. Budapest is just so picturesque. The Danube River, multiple bridges, the parliament building and just a classical European vibe come together to really epitomize what Europe is all about.
We continued onwards still getting some great views along the way, and stopped at an even better viewpoint on the hill where Matthias Church sits. Religious or not- anyone who appreciates good architecture will appreciate this church in all its glory, and perfect placement as such.
To me, one of the highlights of the trip was the dinner river cruise we had later that night. The food, the drinks and the sites were just amazing! I really do think this is one of the most beautiful and charming cities in Europe. At night, it just gets lit up like no other, and pairing that with some nice wine and some great people really made the night. Not to mention the food was amazing! I’m pretty sure I had something silly like 4 plates (it was a buffet). Just being out on the water was such a peaceful experience, but it was just so beautiful, and the group really came together for an awesome night. There were selfies and group photos going on all night! It was just awesome! You can’t really explain how amazing something is unless you do it. So if every going to Budapest, or if every going on this Contiki tour, the river cruise is an absolute must!
As much fun as that cruise was, it was really just a warm up to the rest of the night. For the most part the group split up into smaller groups to do different things across the board. Myself along with a smaller group decided to go to one of the famous Budapest Bath Parties at Szechenyi. To say the least, it puts a Las Vegas pool party to shame. It is such a crazy place. You enter a beautiful spa-like venue, and all of a sudden it is a water club gone mad. Music is blaring, drinks are flowing people are disastrous it is just like a car crash and you just can’t look away. It just got busier and busier as the night progressed, and as more and more people became inebriated, the more interesting the whole night became. I don’t recall what time we left, or how long this party continued- but I sure am happy there were no cameras to catch this mess in its full force. To say the least, the following morning was not particularly pleasant.
Being in Budapest, regardless of the painful start to the day, you have to just wake up and explore this amazing city. Although those who did wake up opted to visit the Parliament buildings, I sat at a café nursing my weary head with an amazing cappuccino. After a couple of hours, productivity seemed a little more reasonable, so we headed to The Museum of Terror (of the Nazi and Soviet regimes). I will say, it was definitely a sobering experience (Perhaps a little too sobering after a night out). One of the best museums I’ve been to, and it truly packs a punch when it comes to the delivery of the terrors in our history. It is an uncomfortable experience, and really, it should leave you with no other feeling. If you walk out feeling as comfortable as you did when you walked in, then you missed the point. In fairness, this museum does not allow you to miss the point, so be prepared.
After leaving, and taking a wander through the streets of Budapest, we decided to go on a mission to the Buda side of the city, and revisit the beautiful hilltop church we saw the day before. Too bad that as soon as we made that decision, a thunderstorm rolled through out of nowhere and literally rained on our plans. It was unfortunate as the view from there is just beautiful, but instead we decided to wander in the rain and grab some lunch. As it eventually passed, we ventured off to explore more of the city.
There is so much to do; you just have to take your pick. If you want to relax, go to one of the famous spas. If you want to gain some history, go to one of the exhibits or museums. Not for you? Then just wander around or go shopping. Doesn’t really matter, whatever you’re looking for, you will find it in Budapest. Also…try the food, all the food, but be careful, as unlike other parts of Europe, food here packs a punch and can be really spicy- hence why you will see chili peppers on everything!
Once you do all that don’t forget to head over to a Ruin Bar for a night out. What is a ruin bar you ask? Well it’s basically what it sounds like, typically a run down building turned into a very quirky bar. Inside that bar, or outside depending on how you look at it, seeing as it is a mixture of both. It decorated with basically every lost treasure, or item found on the side of a street. It is a wonderland for the senses, and definitely a great place for those who have a short attention span. Adding alcohol to the mix, just make it that more much interesting and almost confusing. Then, when you think your confusion has subsided, a waitress starts serving carrots. Yes, I said carrots. So basically in an odd way, a ruin bar basically reflects what Budapest is all about.
The one thing you can say about Budapest though, it is very quirky. However it is going on my list of top European cities. Go there, now, don’t wait!