Wow, what a fantastic, hidden gem Budapest is. The city is alive with color, music, food, wine, parks…name it and Budapest has it. I am now traveling with my friend Audrey, on our own schedule, pretending to be adults while we google map the whole city and accidentally get charged fees for not validating train tickets. The first night, we went to Cafe Kor, just down the street from our airb&b, where we had a fantastic meal of duck, chicken, a bottle of wine, and a great conversation. Then, just down the street there were thousands of people, young and old, quiet and loud, gathered at the park. It was so intriguing because we kept trying to figure out what was going on. We assumed there must be some kind of festival or concert, right? By the end of the night, we realized that they were simply just enjoying their night with friends and I think this is when we both fell in love with Budapest. The next day, we practically stumbled upon Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Great Synagogue, St. Stephan’s Basilica and the Danube River. For lunch, we went to the Central Market Hall and had goolash and stuffed cabbage rolls. It was a lot of walking, but we had so much fun appreciating the architecture and being engulfed in Hungarian culture. The next day, we went to the Széchenyi thermal baths, which were a little crowded, but we liked going in the 80 degree Celsius sauna then the freezing ice bath. When we got back to our flat, I realized that I had left my absolutely favorite necklace in the locker room. It was a precious gift from my sister, to remind me of the importance of new beginnings in my life. I had given her the same one before when she needed it, and she had replicated the favor for me. So Audrey and I immediately turned around and went to go find my necklace. As soon as we get back to the park and off the subway, we get stopped by a lady asking for our tickets. We willingly handed them over because we bought them from the front desk and were confident we had done the right thing. Before we know it, we’re handing over our passports and being charged 8,000 Fts each for not validating our tickets. Please, please validate your tickets, and if not, run away from the angry short woman before she catches you in her tourist net! Then, to top it all off, I can’t find my necklace, and the Hungarians are wondering why my face is red and wet. However, it’s okay, because there’s really not much I can do at this point, so I accept defeat and we go back to the airb&b. Later that night, we decided to go see the Musical fountain on Margaret Island and the Parliament Building lit up at night. When we’re about forty minutes away from our place, and half way across a bridge over the Danube river, it just starts absolutely pouring. We really couldn’t believe it, so we tuck our leather purses from Florence away the best we can and hop on a random bus, soaking wet, with no idea where it’s really going. Oh, in the opposite direction, perfect! So blah blah blah sob sob sob we make it back to the airb&b. And here is where the best part of the day comes- Audrey flips on a show we used to watch in high school, Gossip Girl, and we split the cheapest, dirtiest meal we could find and half a coke. What this day showed me was that it’s okay to lose things, it’s okay to get drenched in the rain, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do- but who you do it with. I didn’t need that necklace anymore, because the life I am living this summer is full of new places, new languages, new cities…new beginnings. What a realization that was.
Our last day, we went to 9Bar for chai tea lattes and baby quiches. We worked on our papers and slowly realized the coffee shop culture is not quiet the same as it is in America, but we felt very content working on our laptops for far too long in public. That night, we decided to get a real dinner, for we had been snacking ever since we lost $30 to the ticket lady. Then, we finally made it to Margaret Island (the fountain is under construction btw) and saw the Parliament Building light up the whole town. Lastly, we made sure to visit the famous “Shoes on the Danube” monument and the legendary ruin bar, Szimpla Kert, where we met four girls from the UK. I had an amazing time in Budapest, and I’d love to revisit this city some day.