This January, I had the opportunity to go to Budapest. Considering that I had two-and-a-half months off from work, I’d decided to go all-out and travel as much as possible. Although I’d been to Budapest back in 2016, I was keen on returning. Plus, flights were cheap, so it gave me more of a reason to go!
I had about four days between my last trip to Toulouse and my flight to Budapest. Not much of a rest, but enough to gear me up for the next five nights in the lively, Hungarian capital. Embarking early in the morning, I made my way to the airport where I boarded my afternoon flight over. Journey time took about two hours, and soon enough I arrived in the Budapest Ferihegy Airport. I caught the public bus to the city center, where I then briefly took the metro to my Couchsurfing host’s place.
Prior to arriving, I’d been looking for hosts on Couchsurfing to take me in during my five night stay in Budapest. However, it proved quite difficult, but I got lucky with one host who said that he was willing to host me for the first two days to get my bearings. I chose to stay with him, and so that was where I went upon arrival. He lived conveniently in the heart of the city center (District VII) where all of the clubs and bars were centered. It made for a convenient place to go out for the night, which was exactly what I did for the first two nights.
My host greeted me when I arrived. It turned out that he’d grown up in Los Angeles (like me), and we bonded over our experiences living there. He was a musician journalist, and he was quite busy during my stay, so I didn’t see him so much. But he was really pleasant, and the few times we spoke were cool. Again, he was kind enough to offer a place for me to sleep, and that was that.
I’d arrived in the late afternoon, so upon getting settled in, I decided to rest for a bit before heading out and seeing the night life in town. My host had *unofficially* invited me to check out the Open Mic he was hosting that night, so I went there around 21:00 and listened to a couple of acoustic acts– some were great, some sub-par, but with a beer in hand, it made for a chill start to the night.
After about an hour or two, I left the venue and decided to head to one of the most-famous ruin bars, Szimpla Kert, to meet up with another Couchsurfing traveler whom I’d been in contact with for a drink. Speaking of ruin bars, they’re a typically Budapest thing, as back in the 1990’s, people started turning abandoned and run-down buildings into bars, hence why they’re known as “ruin bars” today.
Admittedly, Szimpla Kert is excessively touristy as I entered the establishment to mixtures of British, Spanish, and non-Hungarian residents drinking and enjoying the vibes. Not to forget that it was huge; it was two stories with multiple rooms in each, so that you could easily get lost in there. I met up with the traveler, who was from Taiwan, but lived in Italy for work, as well as her friend who was a guy from Albania, but currently working in Budapest. I got a beer and chatted with them for an hour or two before heading back to my host’s flat just a bit past midnight, as I was super tired from traveling the whole day– funny enough, I ran into my host as I was returning, as he was just coming back from his music gig.
Following day was my first full day in Budapest. I woke up and after breakfast, I took the metro to the other side of town, namely, the Buda side. From there, I visited the Batthyány tér, which is a square that’s right across from the Parliament, and I got good photos of the iconic building from there. Next, I headed up to Fisherman’s Bastion, and besides getting cold, but gorgeous views of the Pest side, I also got to see the lovely Matthias Church.
Staying on the Buda side, I headed to the Citadella, upon which I could get beautiful views of both Buda and Pest in harmony. Granted, it was snowing that day, but that didn’t stop me from climbing the hill and getting my reward from above.
Soon enough, I crossed over back to the Pest side and checked out the Great Market Hall, which is the largest and oldest indoor market in the city. I strolled through aisles of fresh produce, including meats, fruits and vegetables and, of course, pálinka, which is a strong, Hungarian fruit brandy; I’ve had it before and, while it’s tasty, too much of it will mess you up!
It was nearing lunchtime, and I decided to get something to eat. Along the way, I passed by the Little Princess statue, which is an iconic statue for the city. Small and unassuming, it’d been created back in the 1970’s by an artist who’d been inspired by his daughter’s love for fantasy.
I arrived at the restaurant, Bisztro Hungarikum, which I’d been to the last time I was in Budapest and absolutely loved it. If I’d thought that it was good the first time, then it was even more incredible the second time around. Food was good, service was phenomenal, and I had one of the best lunches in all of my travels.
That afternoon, I visited the outside of the Parliament, the St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Hungarian State Opera House. I paid about 2500 forints (8€) for the latter, which turned out to be a disappointment, because the theater’s interior was closed for renovations. The tour lasted about 45 minutes, and I felt that it wasn’t really worth the price.
In any case, it was getting dark when I exited the opera; I decided to head back to my Couchsurfing host’s flat to rest, as I was keen on heading out later that night for a pub crawl. I headed over around 21:00, only to discover that it wouldn’t officially start until 22:00. Considering that it was a Tuesday night, there weren’t many of us on the pub crawl, but I still had fun meeting and making friends with people from all over, including Brazil, South Africa, and the Netherlands. We got drinks at three different bars before dancing our butts off at the last club. I ended up leaving around 3:00 to head back to my host’s flat, where I collapsed onto my bed, utterly exhausted.
…and that was my first two nights in Budapest! More to come soon. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
Check me out on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/thefinickycynic