I visited Budapest for a few days as part of a two-week trip around Europe. I'm typically a slower, more methodical traveler. But my good friend Wesley is basically the opposite, and I decided to follow his lead and do a rapid-fire backpack trip around Europe. It was a blast, and I'm glad that I was able to pick up some fun tricks from that experience. For instance, staying in hostels and focusing on meeting other travelers was a great way to stay motivated to continue to venture out into the city. And swapping stories with people we met along the way was also fun. A part of me even enjoyed the pressure to explore that came from only being in a particular city for a few days. However, there were some drawbacks too. It was exhausting, both mentally and physically. I also didn't feel like the people we met along the way challenged my growth in any fundamental way. Sometimes it felt like I could have been in any major city in the United States, doing the same thing. Overall, while I can't say that I'll be doing a trip like this often, I think I'll definitely be incorporating some of that style into the way I travel moving forward.
That aside, Budapest is a wonderful city with a lot of interesting architecture. There was a variety of food to try, and things to experience. Here's some photos!
Here's a photo I took overlooking the city from 360 Bar, a cool rooftop spot that I stumbled upon. That large building is the Hungarian Parliament, and is probably the most iconic landmark in the city. One thing that Budapest is known for is the so-called "ruin bars." These areas were former gathering squares that became dilapidated, then later transformed into these eclectic spots. For breakfast the first morning, I insisted we go to a typical European cafe. This was one thing I really missed from the last time I was in Europe. The open air, street-side patios with espresso and simple foods are the perfect place to read a book and people-watch. This is the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge, which lends itself well to cool photos. Here's me, annoying Wesley by refusing to stand directly center for his shot. I was quite proud of my eyes for noticing this shot. While hiking up the hills, I spotted these need iron railings that made for some satisfyingly symmetric pictures. Another shot from out hiking. I like the way that these trees framed the parliment building in the distance, and I think the picture turned out pretty nice! Near the tip of our climb, we came across this cool circular restaurant which had a breathtaking view of the city. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed. We later found out that someone booked the whole thing for their wedding. What an epic place to get married! This is Matthias Church, which was lovely. Me and Wesley had a hysterical time solemly singing the opening intro to the Halo theme song while wandering around it's echoing chambers. Another nearby landmark, the Fisherman's Bastion, became a running joke during the rest of our trip as a direction-bearing landmark. Whilst walking through a park, I spotted this rather picturesque hot air balloon floating nearby. We ended the day at the Szechenyi Bath house, one of the most famous in the city. It was a perfect way to relax and loosen up our joints and feet after hiking all day. We met some fun people from the hostel and went out for a few drinks. From left to right, there's Camden, JoJo, myself, Wesley, Benny and Erica. A couple of them were traveling the same direction as us, and will make repeat appearances later in the blog! An amazing photo of the sunset captured by Wesley. We had originally planned to go on a party boat the last night in Budapest, but were all tired from the day before. We still wanted to see the city from the river, though, and so we found this much more lowkey boat tour. I was quite pleased with it! One shot from the boat tour, with the parliament building lit up. Those specks seen in the night sky above it were actually a large hoard of bats flying around. Quite suiting, given that one of the notable things in Budapest is the prison which once held Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula! Me and Camden went on a "side quest" one night to find some traditional Hungarian food. We came across this really cool Star Wars exhibit, featuring probably 30+ original and authentic prop helmets from various movies. Unfortunately, the exhibit was closed by the time we arrived so all we got to see was the street-facing teaser pictured here. I traveled with my guitar, which was a bit annoying at times to lug around. However, there was a few moments which made it worth every second of annoyance. This was one of them! We accidentally arrived to the train station an hour early, and so I decided to bust out the guitar. Wesley and Camden rested from the long past couple of days while I played some music. I suppose this was a pretty poetic scene. It eventually caught the attention of a local Hungarian photographer, who wandered over and kindly asked if he could take a photo shoot of us. I wish I would have swapped contact info with him to get the pictures, but alas my tired brain forgot to ask. Here's some traditional Hungarian food that we had. On the bottom left is goulash, a type of beef step. Upper left is some pork tenderloins and potatoes, and the larger image on the right is gypsy steak with some sausage and vegetables. Another photo from the same restaurant, this was the appetizer. An assortment of popular Hungarian meats, cheeses and vegetables.
Lastly, here's some langalló. At first glance, it may look like pizza, but it's taste was pretty different. It's a very light and soft dough, crispy on the outside. Then it's topped with, traditionally, sour cream. Plus whatever toppings you like. I got the most popular option, onion sausage and bacon. It was really, really delicious!