We had Friday off of school because of Arbeitstag (kind of like Labor Day), so Billy, Joseph, Andrea, Bobby, Andrew, Michelle, Amanda and I decided to wake up early and jump on the train. It was just after Sebastian’s birthday so we didn’t all feel our best, but we were able to sleep on the train. We arrived in Budapest around lunch time to find out that it was a lot warmer in Hungary than in Austria. After stealing a map from a Best Western, we attempted to find our hostel. The sun was beating down our necks and as it turns out, our hostel was on the outskirts of town. So we had to walk pretty far. When we finally got there, the hostel owners didn’t speak English. Haha, welcome to Eastern Europe.
We jumped on the metro, which was quite frightening. The trams are so old and when they stop at a station, they put on the breaks and then the tram skids to a stop. We made it to the inner city and took a walk around the Pest side.
We visited the beautiful Parliament building and walked to the famous Széchenyi-Lánchíd bridge. Then we walked to Szent Istvánbazilika, or St. Stephen’s basilica. It was a beautiful Neo-Renaissance church. The even had a reliquery with the hand of St. Stephen in it. In the evening we walked to Margit-sziget, or Margeret Island. It was a warm evening and we explored the gardens and the ancient ruins of a monastery.
We were quite ambitious the next morning and we decided to explore the Buda side of the city. We stuck mainly to the area called Castle Hill, but we started the day with a hike up to Statue Park. This is where the moved all the old communist monuments after Russia’s occupation of Hungary ended. They also had old weaponry on display next to the citadel. When we climbed down the other side of Statue Park, we ran into a couple bands setting up for a concert. Billy started getting excited because we happened upon an Iron Maiden concert, but it turned out that they were actually Iron Maidnem, a cover band, and they would be playing that night with Jon Bovi and AB/CD. Oh well.
Then we climbed up to the entrance to the fortified section of Castle Hill. We wandered around here for hours exploring the castle grounds. Yet another reminder that we were in Eastern Europe were the signs reading, “Watch for Falling Rocks.” You mean the castle might crumble down upon me?
On the other side of Castle Hill we spent some time at Mátyás Templom before descending the hill and ending up in a Burger King for some grub and a bathroom. Then we walked along the river to a beautiful view of Parliament and crossed over the Széchenyi-Lánchíd bridge to close up the miles-long circle we hiked through the Buda side. On the Pest side, we visited the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Then we ate a traditional Hungarian dinner of goulash. After dinner we walked back to the river to see the city lights.
The next morning we headed to the Varosliget district of Budapest where they were having a fair for Arbeitstag. We bought some delicious fair food and enjoyed traditional Hungarian funnel cake before heading to the baths. Andrew, Joseph, Bobby, Michelle and I bought tickets to the baths and played around in the lazy river, the mineral pool and the sauna. What a relaxing day in the sun! After our pool time, we walked to the train station and headed back to Vienna. I finished the book Joey got me for Christmas on the train, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was fun, but we’re happy to be back in Western Europe!
*** A final reason why I’m not allowed to choose the hostel anymore: I didn’t shower for three days for fear of getting fungus from the hostel showers.