Saleen Says: adventures in Budapest!

It still doesn’t feel like I’ve been in Prague for the past week and a half, or like I spent this past weekend in Budapest, but here I am with another update!

I went with nine other girls last weekend. We were there from Saturday morning to Sunday night. It was pretty darn tiring because of the long train rides in such a short period of time, but awesome nonetheless.

A group of us made arrangements a while back to take a trip there, so we took what I believe was about an 8-hour train ride and arrived early in the morning. Our TA booked a hostel for us in Pest, which I didn’t realize is technically in the same city (hence Budapest), but is a separate side. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Buda and Pest are two different sides of the city, and they differ greatly.

Back to the trip…

I’ve never stayed in a hostel before, so I had no point of reference for the one we actually stayed in. However, from what I was told, our “hostel” didn’t seem like the traditional ones others have seen. It looked like a really nice apartment with a small kitchen/common area, two bathrooms, and two bedrooms. The bedrooms had small, twin-sized cots in them so each person could have a separate bed. I thought the cots were adorable! They had cute little duvets, a pillow, a towel, wash cloth, and a tiny shower gel pouch. The place was spotless.  We were kind of cramped (there were six beds in my room and four in the other bedroom), but it felt like a big sleepover to me, so I was fine.

The company who owns the apartments we stayed in was amazing. They were able to get us a few extra beds to accommodate the girls we hadn’t initially planned for, we were able to buy tickets to some of the attractions we wanted to go to, and we were able to store our luggage there during our last day (for a fee, of course).  I saw quite a few people store their luggage there as well. I never thought about the need for that but I suppose it comes in handy if you arrive to your destination before your hotel/hostel/Airbnb is ready. Also, this particular company sets you up with a taxi driver, so you already have transportation from the train station to the office so you can check in.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we did after getting settled in:

Saturday:

Breakfast at small coffee shop–Sadly, I can’t remember the name of this restaurant, which saddens me because that was the first time I actually liked an iced coffee since leaving the U.S. I had an iced coffee with a scoop of ice cream on top and it was heavenly. I also had a pretty forgettable sandwich.

Széchenyi thermal bath–We went back to our apartment, changed and got ready to check out the Széchenyi thermal bath. I had never heard of anything like this prior to registering for the trip, so I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. For those who, like me, are unfamiliar with these baths, they are baths (or pools) whose water is supplied by two thermal springs. The water contains calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium and sulphate, fluoride and metaboric acid. I did some reading online and found out that doctors often send people to soak in these pools and get massages (which are also offered there).

The outdoor area has three pools:
– One swimming pool (26 °C – 28 °C)
– One activity pool (30 °C – 34 °C)
– One thermal water pool (38 °C)

We spent the majority of our visit in the first pool. This one is much cooler and has a whirlpool in the center.  We skipped the activity pool. I took one look at it and realized my doggy-paddling behind didn’t belong in it. We sat in the thermal water pool for as long as we could stand the temperature. I enjoyed them both!

Pizza and beer cruise–This was a fun, rather chilly, adventure! We found this Silverline Dinner and Cruise deal online and decided to book it for Saturday. We had to wait a good 5-10 minutes before getting on the boat, but they moved things along pretty speedily.

When we boarded, a girl at the front counter asked us to choose from a list of pizzas. I chose the ham and corn pizza. I know, it sounds weird. We sailed along the Danube river and took photos and drank beer (iced coffee and soda, in my case). The pizza took a while and my friend joked that they were probably having it delivered. We looked over towards the dock as we got closer to it and sure enough, there was a guy with a bunch of pizza boxes in tow.  I enjoyed my little personal pizza, although I didn’t expect it to have a huge slice of ham on top that had been split down the middle.

After the cruise, we all went back to the apartment to (a) get ready to go out or (b) get ready for bed. Can you guess which option I chose?

Sunday:

Breakfast at some restaurant that claimed to have real Hungarian breakfasts–I really didn’t want to eat there, but I didn’t complain. I just ordered my go-to (a caesar salad with grilled chicken). I wasn’t impressed though. The dressing didn’t taste right to me, the lettuce wasn’t chopped into small enough pieces (I felt like I was stuffing an entire piece of lettuce into my mouth and getting dressing all over the place), and my chicken wasn’t chopped. I’m just used to being able to pick up a small piece of lettuce and insert it into my mouth without looking like a vacuum cleaner. Still, the waiter was very nice. I wanted to tip him (and tried to), but he looked so confused. I think I ended up leaving the money on the table.

Sidenote: I never know how much is enough for a tip in different countries, or what to do with the money. Do I put it on the table or give it to the waiter? For the most part, people in Prague have been pretty helpful. If I’m paying at a register and hand them big bills, they ask me if I have coins, then when I pull a bunch out, my palms flat and full of metal pieces that I’m desperately sifting through, they reach over and pull the correct coins out for me. I like these interactions because it shows me that people are still kind and patient with others like myself who are still getting adjusted to a new place.

Marketplace/Shops–This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. They had a cute little marketplace set up where you could buy jewelry, clothes, gifts, shoes, bags, and anything else you can imagine. We went back later that day and I picked up some gifts for friends and family.

Hop on/Hop off tour–We went on a tour of Budapest on one of those double-deck tour buses. Our first driver was really good at his job. Our second driver drove like that skeleton from “Halloweentown” when the entire town was cursed and became dark and evil. Still, it was a neat experience! I liked the fact that we got to rest our feet and take everything in.

Additional sidenote: A hop on/hop off tour is basically where you get on a bus that has a set number of stops along their route. At certain stops, they announce that they’ll be in that location for 15 minutes or so, you ‘hop’ off, then when that fifteen minutes is up, you can either ‘hop’ back onto the bus and go to the next stop, or stay, explore some more, and wait for the next bus to get on.

Once the tour was over, we went back to the marketplace, then stopped to eat at this kebab restaurant. Let me tell you, that food was delicious, and I’m mad at myself for not taking photos of it.

*Saleen has an epiphany as she’s writing a new post*

I’m a Yelper. That’s pretty much the only reason that I take photos of my food and drinks. I just remembered that Yelp isn’t available in Budapest, or at least that’s what my phone told me when I tried to look up the restaurants we visited. No wonder I can’t remember the name of any restaurants we went to. I should really start writing this stuff down for blogging purposes! I will!

Alright, let’s stick a fork in this post. This is getting lengthy (even by my standards). So we ate at this delicious kebab restaurant. I had rice and chicken. I actually ordered fries, but the woman thought I said rice. I’ve never been more appreciative for a miscommunication in my life. Everything was perfect.

After dinner, we headed back to the rental office to get our luggage and head to the train station.

I had an awesome time, and I was really impressed with the apartment we stayed in. Not all companies would go to such great lengths to accommodate a group as large as ours, so I appreciated them getting us extra beds and ensuring that each person would be comfortable.

The people we came across in Budapest are super friendly, and I’m grateful to have visited such a wonderful place! Please check out some of my photos below, and thanks for reading!

 

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