It took seven long hours for Dan & I to reach the city by bus, but our time spent in Budapest was well worth the journey. For two full days, we got to play the role as tourists once again in a new country: tasting Hungarian goulash & cakes, touring the Fisherman’s Bastion & Castle Hill, & exploring the many coffee shops, bistros, & bars in the area. We had a lot of local recommendations given to us by our new friend Bre (who hosted us), & owe most of our amazing experiences to her guidance & hospitality.
We learned that Budapest has a long history of being invaded & ruled by other empires & saw the lasting effects reflected in the city's architecture. We thought of Berlin when we came across communist buildings & industrial/gritty bars; were reminded of Prague when we passed by more elegantly designed buildings & cafes; & saw parts of Vienna in upscale restaurants & markets. However, there was still something particularly unique to Budapest that we just couldn’t put our fingers on - a city with old world charm & a youthful spirit & a determination to press on throughout years of submission.
Some of our highlights in Budapest included eating gelato in the shape of rose petals, riding a hop-on-hop-off bus around the Buda & Pest sides of the city (a new fact that I learned on our trip), eating fresh pasta & french toast at a little bistro, & most importantly, treating ourselves to a spa day at the renowned Gellert Baths. We were seriously excited about trying out the famous baths, & the Gellert contained several thermal pools & fountains of mineral water that left us feeling both pampered & refreshed after days of walking the streets (I even snuck my camera in & took a few unsuspecting snaps!). But my very favorite memory of Budapest has to be our moonlit ride along the Danube River at night: Dan & I huddled together on the top of our boat deck in the wind, watching the golden lights of the Parliament building glow on the water; a film strip (among many) that I will always take with me.