Here we go again with those Eastern European vibes. But actually, after a great trip to Prague I was excited to see what Budapest had to offer. To begin, let’s have a short history lesson for those of you who think people are messing with you when they ask if you’re staying in Buda or Pest. Technically, they are now one city, but back in the day they developed completely on their own, only separated by the Danube river. Although both cities together now form Budapest, each side has it’s own history and culture.
We heard that Pest is where all the fun goes down, so naturally we found a hostel in that area. One of my friends took a little Euro trip last summer and had only great things to say about a party hostel he stayed at, called Retox. We immediately booked the last private room and were ready to see what was in store for us. When we showed up to the hostel, it definitely exceeded our expectations. To begin, the hostel was run by kids basically our age from all over the world. There were people from Australia to Croatia, even from Israel! Most of them were backpackers who stumbled upon Budapest and figured since they liked it so much they’d stay. A few years later, and those tourists are now our guides in this crazy town.
After settling in, we went to check out the top of the Basilica for a view of the city. Three euros, and about 300 stairs later, we had an incredible view and got a little cardio in for the day. We decided to take it easy since we were waiting for our friends for the real action to happen. We passed by a local market and naturally my nose fell victim to the foreign smells. After settling our hunger with some Hungary delights, we wandered through the outskirts of Pest on our way way back to the hostel.
When we woke up the next day, we set out for a traditional Hungarian breakfast. To say the least, it was basically just eggs and sausage with a Hungarian bread on the side, called Kifli, but I love breakfast food so I definitely had no complaints. Our friends Harry and Annie finally landed and we immediately set out to see what all the Buda buzz was about. We walked around gazing at the beautiful architecture, which looked like pages straight out of a Fairytale.
On our way to the Buda Castle, we caught gaze with a woman deep frying dough, layering mounds of Nutella on top. Safe to say, it was enough to capture everyone’s attention. When we got a closer look, we saw there was other fried dough options layered with sour cream and cheese. Obviously me and Emily had to get one of each and try them both. Apparently these giant elephant ears are called Langos, and they were definitely worth the thousands of calories.
After a lunch that surpassed the normal amount of calorie intake you’re supposed to eat in a day, we were ready to burn some off by hiking up the Citadella for a view that somehow surpassed that of the Basilica. It was truly the most incredible view of Budapest from every angle. You could see the entire city of Pest, and most major monuments in Buda that made it feel like you’re on top of the world.
After a nice long hike, what better way to celebrate than with more food?! We headed back to Pest to take our friends to the market we had passed through the day before. My mouth was watering and I knew exactly what to get. Goulash is a beef and potato stew that’s a must try in Eastern Europe. Some have carrots or celery, while other are served in a bread bowl. I want to say goulash is like a Panera bread bowl, but in reality it’s so much more. It’s a thick and filling stew that tastes a whole lot better than it sounds. Even though it was one of my favorite foreign dishes, I was still Hungary for more.
After eating our way through Hungary, we took a little break before the famous parties at Szechenyi bath. For those who don’t know, most of Budapest is built on top of naturally heated springs. Many places have adopted these springs and turned them into relaxing spa pools during the day, and crazy pool parties by night. We were pumped to dive into the action. Coming from Miami, I gotta say it felt a little like home. The pool was warm like the Atlantic Ocean and everyone was up all night. After hours experiencing the culture and fun, it’s safe to say, we killed the (bath) tub.
The next day, we had our final Hungarian feast, and packed up to head home. As popular demand from me myself and I, we went back into the market one last time. I got my last traditional goulash and something sweet for the airport. It’s crazy to think that this is one of the last trips I’d be taking abroad. I’m still not sure how these four months have already flown by, but this trip was definitely one for the books and a perfect way to end our school semester.