We arrived so hungry in Hungary at 10PM and made our way to our hostel for the next 2 nights. We stayed at the Maverick hostel. All the reviews said it was the best place ever and it actually was. The place felt like a hotel room, there was free wifi in the rooms, and there was a new kitchen with free tea and coffee ALL day! It was hostel heaven. When we woke up past our check in time, instead of being yelled at and forced to pay extra we were told not to worry and to take our time…!?
We came to Hungary with absolutely no expectations. Neither Shristi or I knew much about the city or country we were heading to. To be honest, most of the places we visited weren’t planned, we always just found a map, chose a direction and started walking.
I think that’s one of the aspects I loved so much, not having a strict plan to adhere to, just doing whatever we seemed to fancy. Budapest is a beautiful city, but unfortunately again, we didn’t have the greatest weather ☹
Our first stop was across the river from the Hungarian Parliamentary building. The building is so, so beautiful and we were also lucky to have witnessed it all lit up at night-time.
We headed over to the Buda Castle. The castle was first completed in 1265 and is located in the ‘castle district’ famous for its Medieval, Baroque, and 19th century houses and churches.
So we were on the Buda side of the city, and across the water you could see Pest. We made our way down from the castle and across the Chain Bridge.
As we walked through the streets we realised that Budapest is much smaller than we first thought. We ended up walking back to the main street right near our accommodation. Here we found the Dohány Street Synagogue. This Synagogue is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world, where it seats nearly 3,000 people.
I’ve only been to a Synagogue once before on a school trip, so it was a great experience to be able to visit this one. After our weeks of travel and newly acquired knowledge about the lives of Jewish people and their struggles, it was good to put even more of what we learnt into perspective.
I learnt that the Jewish people view stones as a symbol of permanence, memory and legacy. That is why you will see Jewish graves stuffed with stones rather than flowers, because even though flowers are beautiful, they will eventually die.
Our night in Budapest started at Budai Vigado, where we watched the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. The concert was a mix of Hungarian traditional dancers with a modern Transylvanian twist. The modern dancers were wearing suits, while the others wore traditional outfits.
As we were strolling home, we spoke to some locals who advised us of some places that were a must see in Budapest at night-time. We were recommended ‘Szimpla’ Bar which conveniently was only a few doors down from our hostel. We popped in and had a great night. We met travellers from all over the world and learnt how to say cheers in at least 4 different languages! We even met the keyboard player and the band manager of ‘Everlast’ who were playing their last show of their tour the night after.
Our last day in Budapest was spent in the Budapest City Park. At the entrance of the park there is the Hősök tere. The Hero’s square is most known for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars as well as other national leaders.
The city park is home to Vajdahunyad Castle. It’s known as the romantic castle and was built in 1896. The castle has a moat and a draw bridge just like in fairytales! In the winter there is supposedly a skating rink right next to it.
The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath is also found in this park. We deeply regret not being able to experience this, apparently it’s a must to experience in Budapest. We simply did not have enough time. The bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe! I will definitely have to return to try this in the future!
As we walked away from the park down Andrássy út, we thought we would do one more stop before we had to get on the bus for our next destination! We saw on the map there was a place highlighted called the ‘most beautiful café in the world’. Naturally intrigued we found our way and were blown away. It is called the New York Café and it is truly magnificent. The fancy ceiling is adorned with gorgeous frescoes by Gusztav Mannheimer and Ferenc Eisenhut, dating from the mid-XIX century. The place just has this golden aura to it. Its beautiful, the absolute best place for tea or coffee and cake!
It was actually the biggest challenge to finish all the cake and ice-cream we ordered. At first we were so excited and then we ended up forcing it down, because when there is delicious food in front of you, it can’t let it go to waste!
So as we spent hours in here attempting to finish our iced chocolate lattes and deliciously rich cakes, we lost track of time and once again found ourselves stressing and running through the metro stations so we wouldn’t miss our international bus. Again this is nothing new for us… I guess it’s a necessary part of our travels, because being late is just a thing we’re really good at! Ultimately though, Budapest was incredible. If you’re planning on visiting, I would recommend booking a few extra days and definitely visiting the thermal baths!