Let’s Get Going Again!
A few days in sunny England were enough for me, and I was soon ready to get going again. This time, to Budapest! I was apprehensive as I hadn’t been anywhere in Eastern Europe before, but I was at the airport early thanks to Dad’s Taxi. After the longest queue ever to board, where I spent over 20 minutes stood behind a very odd character who never even made it on to the plane, I was finally on my way to Budapest.
Things didn’t start too well, with a slight mishap and a wrong bus ticket. Quickly nipping back to the machine and getting the right one, the delightful bus driver closed the doors just as I neared them. Putting me in a slightly sour mood as I now had a 20-minute wait for the next one and a host waiting for me at the apartment, I tried to shake it off and was soon on my way to the city centre. A quick trip to Tesco – because of course Budapest has Tesco – to grab some snacks and dinner, and I turned in for the night, ready to get exploring tomorrow!
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot.
It was a slow start to the day, and after spending a bit too long in front of the fan trying to cool down it was time to get out exploring. First on the ‘to see’ list was the Great Market Hall, stopping en route in two churches which were both super interesting but also, crucially, cool. You can nearly always count on a church to be colder than outside, and it was a welcome respite from the heat.
As soon as I stepped in to the market hall a wave of stuffy heat hit. Straight away knowing I’d need to be more refreshed, I popped back to a nearby cafe for a cool drink in front of a fan before trying again. The market itself is on two floors, with mostly typical market food on the ground floor. Lace, gifts, clothes and general home stuff are on the upper floor, as well as several restaurant stalls. I took a quick tour, and after seeing a man pass out from the heat decided that it was probably best to come back another day when it was cooler.
Walking the short distance to the riverside, I welcomed the breeze as Liberty Bridge came into view, then headed back to the shopping streets. Next on the plan: the famous parliament building. I wandered through the main shopping street before popping out near the river again. There’s a touching tribute on the riverside, where pairs of metal shoes line the edge as a memorial to those killed at the river by a fascist party during WWII.
Eventually nearing the world-famous parliament with stunning architecture, I had a quick look around the exterior before heading to Kossuth Lajos Square just behind the parliament and finding an acapella group performing. Ever grateful for an excuse to sit and soak up my surroundings, I basked in the golden hour glow and just enjoyed the stunning surroundings, serene music and was so thankful that this was my life right now.
The plan for the evening was to visit a thermal bath, but it was getting on a bit and I didn’t want to rush, so after taking a few photos of the pretty square I made my way back to the apartment, past the bullet-riddled buildings and through the quiet side streets to the more lively Francis Square. Taking a seat in the last of the sunshine, I enjoyed the chilled atmosphere before my stomach started to rumble and I was on the hunt for some dinner! In the usual fashion, I got lost on my way back to the apartment and found a really cool street full of restaurants, so grabbed a take out Japanese and enjoyed a quiet evening in front of the fan with Netflix.
Hilltop Views and Hidden Bars
Before going to sleep, I’d made a plan to get up early to visit the thermal baths and then spend the afternoon exploring the other side of the river. Turns out, the heat wiped me out and I didn’t get up in time to go to the thermal baths. Instead, I made my way back to the market from yesterday to watch some traditional Hungarian folk music and have another look around in the cooler weather.
Crossing Liberty Bridge, the aim was to trek up Gellert hill and hopefully have some amazing views of Budapest. Took a wrong turn after about twenty seconds and ended up at a church in a cave. After a quick look around the most different church I think I’ve ever been in, and learning about the history, I was back out to try and get to the top of the hill. Although not as hot as yesterday, it was still really warm, and climbing the endless stairs in the heat really took it out of me. By the time I got to the top, I was so relieved to not have to climb anymore that I nearly didn’t appreciate the views properly. Instead, I found a spot in the shade, took a seat and just relaxed for a bit. And yes, the views were totally worth it.
Making the most of the effort it took to get to the top, I had a little wander around the small artisan market before heading back down the hill and taking a walk alongside the river, past the castle and towards parliament. On such a sunny day it’s lovely to just walk, soak up the views and enjoy the slow pace of life. Although the plan was to walk as far as the parliament, I wasn’t feeling too great so opted for a drink and took a seat next to the river to watch people bustle about.
As time ticked on, I wandered toward the cathedral only to find that it was closed for a wedding. The surrounding square was still full of people as the sun started to go down, and wanting to enjoy the lively late afternoon vibe a bit more I grabbed a coffee and made my way to Francis Square again to relax in the sunshine. Someone had brought some speakers and was blasting out music for everyone to enjoy as they dipped their feet in the pool…a lovely way to relax and just enjoy appreciate being in Budapest.
Thinking of the things I’d been told not to miss when in Budapest, the top two had been to visit the thermal baths and to check out the ruins bars. I was tentatively planning to finally get to a thermal bath the next day if I had time before my afternoon train, but I wasn’t so sure about the bars because of having to go alone. Settling on that one possibly being something I do if I ever come back to Budapest with someone, I made my way back to my apartment, grabbing some dinner en route.
As I neared the apartment I was staying in, I noticed that the building opposite had a lot of people going in and out. Ever nosy, I decided to see what was going on, and found that it was one of the ruins bars that everyone had been telling me to check out! I couldn’t believe I’d just found it because I was nosy, but I stopped for a drink and checked out the place before deciding that I’m really not one for drinking alone in a bar and made my way back to the apartment.
Last Chance At Thermal Baths!
The next morning I was up and packed early as it was my last day in Budapest, and after a quick message from the apartment owner that I didn’t need to leave until the afternoon it meant I could now go to the thermal baths and be able to have a shower before leaving the city. Perfect! Quickly grabbing my stuff together I power walked to the nearest thermal baths to the apartment – Gellert Thermal Baths, just the other side of Liberty Bridge.
I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on the baths, and although this isn’t the main one people visit in the city it was still a really good experience. With 2 outdoors pools and 4 indoors, I used my time wisely to make sure I could take a dip in them all, except the one that required swimming hats as I couldn’t find where to get one. After trying out the outdoor pools, it was time to go inside.
The first pool was warm, a nice transition from outside, however a couple enjoying each others company a bit too much meant many people got out and moved to the two warmer pools; 40c and 36c. I’m not one for too much heat, so didn’t plan on spending too much time in these two, and the delightful man who thought that a pool was the perfect place to try and get a date meant I quickly left and made my way back outside to soak up some sun and watch the wave pool.
All too soon it was time to head back to the apartment for a shower, grab my stuff and head to the train station. I’d hoped to grab a coffee and a snack for the train, but the only coffee available was a Nespresso pod which turned out to be a bit nasty and ended up in the bin, and there weren’t many options for food. Never mind, I was soon en route to Zagreb, Croatia!