Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break Part Two: Budapest

After being dragged away from the shores of Croatia, I returned to Prague for a couple days of rest and relaxation before the second leg of my break. On the way home ("home" being Prague), we stopped in Budapest for another crazy 24 hour adventure.

Budapest is actually a lot like Prague in its architecture, layout, and overall feel. It almost was as if I was just in a different area of Prague while I was there, although the people in Budapest were noticeably more friendly and open than those in Prague (a common trend throughout this trip). Since we had been staying in hostels the previous parts of our trip, we decided to treat ourselves and booked a hotel for our night there. If you're ever in Budapest and need a hotel, The Charles Hotel is everything you'll ever need. It's affordable, the staff is incredible, and the breakfast is to die for. I ate so much at that breakfast it was a miracle I could even get up to walk around the city.

Since we only had a little time here, we tried to pack in as much as possible. We started by seeing the Buda Castle. Beautiful and grand, it was definitely a match for the Prague castle. We watched the change of the guards, and meandered around the little shops that lined the paths surrounding the property. We stumbled upon a little man dressed in medieval clothes. His occupation? Working a little shooting range that let tourists (attempt) to showcase their inner warrior through archery. Naturally, we had to give it a try. I was terrible at it! My first arrow went straight into the ground because I didn't understand how hard you had to pull the bow, and the second flew way over the entire target. So clearly, archery is not my forte. Thank goodness I didn't live in medieval times. Or didn't have to compete in the Hunger Games.

We had friends who were spending most of their break in Budapest, so we tried to meet up with them at a monument called "Shoes on the Danube River." Which is apparently a very American touristy thing to do because none of the shops we went into to ask for directions knew what we were talking about. We probably ended up walking six or so miles trying to find this monument, and never ended up meeting our friends since we arrived over an hour late. The monument was interesting, but I still don't know what it represented...I'm still glad I saw it though!

We wandered around the government side of Budapest (the river separates it into the Buda and Pest sides, something I never knew before traveling there), and had lunch at a spot where I drank amazing elderberry lemonade. It was exactly what I needed after all that walking!

The best, and definitely most interesting part of the adventure in Budapest were the baths. Essentially the baths are these huge natural spring pools where people go to just relax and swim. It's a very medicinal thing to do there, going to the baths for your health. It felt so good on my muscles after all the walking all day, but it was apparent that people there didn't care too much about: discretion, nudity, or what others thought of their bodies. It was kind of a free for all, and although bathing suits are required, there were many who tried to avoid that rule. Still something I'm getting used to!

Budapest, even though I was only there for a very short amount of time, was an incredible city that I would love to go back to to thoroughly explore one day. In short, you da best, Budapest!

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