Budapest was the first city I did entirely alone. It was the first real stop you could say on my summer in Europe.
I took a Ryanair flight from Brussels (Charleroi) (CRL), and landed in Budapest T2B (BUD) two hours later. From there I took a bus into the city center, then a train to my hostel. It was actually much simpler than I expected it to be. It only took about an hour, but I made it. Word of the wise: Always validate your transportation vouchers.
I checked into my first Hostel (ever), Wombat’s City Hostel, and was given a 4 bunk room with females only. Let me just say, right off the bat, this hostel set my hostel expectation level super high. It was clean, cool vibe, and secure. The stay was €27 = 8500 HUF total for two nights. The hostel also included a light breakfast, which was great when on the go. Especially since I’ve never been a big breakfast person myself. That hostel experience was a reminder of my summer camp days where bunk beds were all around. Even though this room was just two bunks of two, boy was I in for a big surprise with trips to come. I got assigned the top bunk, so I had to learn super quick how to be smart about my ups and downs. I thought out my showers and stuff almost to the T, so once I got down, I barely had to go back up. Mind you, i’m 5’4″, so if you’re taller, you might not have as much trouble grabbing stuff from the top bunk. Either way, that allowed me to see what I actually needed on my trips vs what I was just taking just in case. Let’s just say, that was one of the top lessons I took with me everywhere I went.
Remember, on this part of my trip, I was alone. It was up to me to make sure I had the adequate balance of history, rest and fun that I was searching for. As for meeting people, that was a breeze. Almost immediately, I met another backpacker from New Zealand who was on a tour across Europe with New Zealanders and Australians. Although they had been there for a few days before me, and had done all the historic stuff, we were able to meet up at night and hang out. I met more people from Australia and New Zealand. Talking to them all, jumped started my confidence and settled doubts about traveling alone. I knew I had made the right choice, quitting my job, and flying to Europe with a vague idea of what I wanted to do.
I took my first day pretty slow. I really didn’t have anything planned, and was kind of in shock with being in a new, foreign country. I mainly just walked around the city and explored. Honestly what saved me from ever feeling lost was google maps. Now the few times I had no service, slight panic temporarily settled in. But for the most part, I was able to use maps at all times. So I never looked lost or had to ask for directions. I could always plan ahead timing wise, and estimate distances. Which I think allowed me to appear less like a tourist, since it looked like I was just texting, instead of being clueless on where to go.
My first stop after checking in, and semi getting settled was food, of course. I walked outside and had passed by a small shop on my way to the hostel. I decided to try them out and got a falafel sandwich. It was an equivalent to about 2USD. Total steal in my opinion, especially compared to Florida prices. The grocery store across had soda and water, which came out to about another 2USD. I immediately texted my mom telling her how much my lunch was and how this trip was already off to a great start in that aspect alone. I did make the mistake of not having any cash on hand, and the falafel shop did not accept card. Cultural Lesson: In Hungary, the currency used is Hungarian Forint (1 USD = 250 HUF). Word of the wise: do not make the mistake of taking out too much cash. You can take out as you need, and most places do take card. With that being said, I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and did not have to worry about fraud or anything.
Fun Fact: When I travel, I collect shot glasses. But within my shot glass collection, I have a Hard Rock Cafe collection. Budapest did not fail, and had a Hard Rock. So my first stop after the essentials, was that shot glass.
I roamed the streets of Budapest, since it was still day light, and eventually found my way to Hard Rock. After picking up my shot glass, I just walked around a book festival that was happening in that same plaza. Around that time, I realized it was much hotter in Budapest than I had anticipated, or had been in Belgium for the week prior, so I just went back to the hotel and got ready to go out.
That night, we went to the food trucks at KARAVÁN and then went to Szimpla Ruins Pubwhich was legit awesome. Now Miami is known for night life, but this was on another level, yet so chill. As soon as you walked in, you knew it was different than anywhere else you’ve ever been, but yet so welcoming.
The next morning, I woke up early and took a Big Bus tour to get all the historic part out of the way. With the sun beaming so much, this was definitely a win in my book. It was a little more than I expected to spend for a tour, but it worked out great in the end. I was able to cover a lot of ground, and save my feet. The 1-day classic ticket, which was €18, was more than enough. That day I managed to cover the Citadel, Hero’s Square, Parliament, Freedom Square, Chain Bridge and Central Market Hall (Souvenirs).
I was so efficient with my walking, that I had time to relax some at my hostel, before going back out to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank and Parliament at sunset on my last night in Budapest.
That night on my way back to the hostel, I took the metro since Big Bus Tours was done for the night (I didn’t opt for the night tour package). I stopped by at Market BDPST and had some tacos (I would def rank them on my top 15 tacos I’ve had, oddly enough).
The next morning I left around 6AM to catch my 9AM flight to Berlin, Germany!
Overall: The people for the most part kept to themselves, but that’s okay. At least I still felt safe. Even so, Budapest has ended up being one of the top places I suggest to people who want to see something that is not a common go to, without spending too much money, even if just for a weekend. I know the other people in my hostel were going to the thermal baths and to a foam party in the Baths at night, but they were in Budapest for a week. I didn’t really have time. If I had another day or two, I would of certainly ended up in the baths, especially since I basically saw all the major points in my day and a half around Buda and Pest. The views alone from the Citadel and of Parliament are enough to make me want to go back, simply breathtaking. I would totally suggest being around the river at sunset and seeing how the city views change. I saw some pictures of sunset from the citadel and they were beautiful! Unfortunately though, no matter how many pictures I took, they would never give it justice. You’ll just have to go and see for yourself one day!
Wombat's City Hostel - Budapest, Király u. 20, 1061 Hungary Currency = Hungarian Forint | 1 USD = 250 HUF Language: Hungarian