Europe’s most underrated big city, Budapest can be as challenging as it is enchanting-Rick Steves
In the six days I spent in Budapest I didn’t once use the caption ‘hungry in Hungary’ on Instagram and I’m a little bit disappointed in myself. We also didn’t get the chance to go to the baths as it was a) pricier than expected and b) mother nature did her thing on our first day and ruined everything for me. That being said we had a fabulous time regardless.
We explored the castle and the labyrinths to see Dracula’s chamber. We walked the chain bridge, taking in the sights, numerous times – day and night. We ate in fancy restaurants and got drunk in ruin bars. We strolled city park and Margaret Island in the rain. We learned of the city’s brutal past from the shoes on the Danube monument and the House of Terror museum – the day we went felt particularly apt as Putin was in the city causing chaos and an uneasy feeling.
We got to see some gorgeous buildings and stunning views which I have been desperate to see for years. It’s always a funny thing, isn’t it? When you finally go to a city you’ve been dying to go to for an age. There’s always a tingling excitement bubbling away in the pit of your stomach, but there’s an overarching sense of fear. What if it’s not like I imagined? What if I’ve built it up too much in my head and my love for the place is shattered?
That did not happen with Budapest.
I’m noticing a pattern with me when I visit a new place for the first time. I really do not like the place when I first arrive. It’s like I’m expecting to instantly fall in love but forgetting that sometimes love is a slow burn. This happened with Budapest. We were staying in an apartment across from City Park, but the side which is currently being renovated. I hated it. It seemed too far away from the city centre and there seemed to be nothing around us. After an afternoon nap and a wander in the dark, I started to soften a little bit. And after realising that we were very close to Hero’s square and the thermal baths, and after having a lovely first day (which happened to be my birthday) exploring , I fell hard.
I remember the moment when I had that lovely feeling of I’m here and in love when I saw the castle lit up in all it’s glory on that first night.
Never before have I spent a birthday abroad, but I will definitely do it again. I want to try and make it a tradition. I usually spend the day hyper-focused on my Facebook and Twitter feeds waiting for the birthday messages to roll in, but they’re usually quite sparse. Being in Budapest, seeing the sights and getting more and more tipsy as the day wore on, I didn’t have the time to think about any of that. I think the only time my phone wasn’t on airplane mode was when I was googling how to use the Nespresso machine (I come from a world of instant coffee) in the morning, and using the bolt app to get home at night. I wasn’t concerning myself with who was thinking about me or who had even remembered it was my birthday. I was in Budapest living my best life, and I was firm in the knowledge of who cared about me and who was deserving of being in my life during my 26th year.
Thank you, Budapest, for a 25th birthday to remember.
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