The moment we rolled into Budapest, the first thought that came to mind were the opening lyrics from “All We Got” by Chance the Rapper, “And we back.”
If you’ve been a friend for a while, you probably remember that my best friend Sami and I came to Budapest about three years ago for New Years. In fact, I mentioned that trip in a blog a couple of months ago. We both love traveling and we found cheap tickets, so we went for it — and we did a week-long trip in a city that captured our hearts (and stomachs) all for under $1100 each. We were excited to be back because the city held a lot of special memories for us. And it was great to be back with our large group of six!
We checked into our airbnb and while everyone else went to dinner, Andi and I did some grocery shopping and had pasta. We got some money out from an ATM and a man in the restaurant where the ATM was asked if we’d exchange him 10,000 Forints for two 5,000s (this adds up to about $40). He was slightly pushy about it and we were in a hurry, so we obliged and left quickly — only to find out later he had given us some Russian money that ultimately ended up equaling to a few nickels in American currency. We’d been swindled, and Sami, Andi, and I all felt stupid. But we didn’t want to let it ruin our night.
Our first night in Budapest, we decided to go clubbing. We went to a place called Simple Garden, where Sami and I had been a few years ago, and danced and talked for a while before ending the night with a Doner Kebab. The next morning, we were all understandably exhausted so we decided to take an easy day. We walked to the closest baths, which are pools of hot springs in Budapest that are considered important parts of health in Hungary. Sami and I went to different baths last time we were in Budapest, so we were excited to experience it again at a different place. Last time we went to Széchenyi Thermal Bath. This time we went to Gellért Thermal Bath. This one was much more extensive, with a wave pool and several outdoor pools as well as a steam room and multiple rooms of indoor pools. We spent several hours there just trying out all the different pools and getting some spa time in. It was our last day together as a group because the next day Sami, Andi, and I would be leaving for Salzburg, so we ate up the last bit of time together.
That night, we had our last family dinner. We went to a traditional Hungarian restaurant and gorged on lots of delicious food (including desert!). And like I’ve mentioned before, the company I work for is sponsoring me to perform Random Acts of Kindness throughout my travels. So I decided to pay for everyone’s dinner — which you can read more about on randomactsofkindness.org. Between that and the baths, it was the perfect day in Budapest and the perfect last day with our group.
Things I’ve learned
Don’t trust a random man next to an ATM. Ever.
Budapest is just as awesome to visit during the summer as it is in the winter (the main downfall is that there’s no hot wine in the summer!)
You win some, you lose some. But when you lose some, don’t let it keep you from having a blast.
Tips for travel in Budapest
- Explore both Buda and Pest, because they’re very different with a lot to offer.
- Go to the synagogue.
- Go to the baths! I recommend Széchenyi Thermal Bath because it’s more of an authentic experience.
- If you want to go clubbing, Simple Garden is a fun place to go.
- Go to the Castle and the Parliament building.
- I don’t have a “When I Return” list because I’ve spent a lot of time in Budepest, but I highly recommend you go there!