A little trip to Budapest

Trip Start Aug 2008
Trip End Jul 2009

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

As I said before, we're trying to see as much as we can before the semester gets too terribly hectic ... so Friday morning Kieffer, Erin, and I headed to Budapest. Vienna is a great b/c it offers an easy jumping off point to all sorts of Eastern European countries, and Budapest was only a 3 hour train ride. Plus, we actually got some reading for class done. About halfway into the trip I realized that we actually looked like Master's students for once ... all 3 of us reading and highlighting our books ... that certainly hasn't happened for a while!

Budapest was definitely a change from the clean and well-kept sights we had been seeing all week. Don't get me wrong, Budapest is an amazing city with beautiful architecture ... it just seems like they need to take a power washer to the whole place. However, it is pretty funny that they have a better metro system than Geneva ... and most of the US, for that matter.

Anyway, when we got to Vienna, our first task was to find our hostel. The directions on the website were extensive, so we were glad we found it relatively easy. We were, however, surprised by its appearance. From the outside it looked like an abandoned building. Before we went inside, we joked that it looked like it had been bombed. It was even funnier when we got inside and there was a courtyard w/ a "skylight." I'm still not totally convinced that it wasn't bombed. The room was alright and the people that worked there were extremely friendly, so we decided we would stay.

We grabbed a map and headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was the chain bridge (which connected Buda and Pest in 1111). We walked across it to visit the Buda Royal Palace. It was quite a hike to the top, but we managed. It was definitely worth it, b/c it gave us an amazing view of the "Pest" side, including the bridges, Parliament and the Basilica.

Mathias Church was also included in the Palace grounds. We didn't get to go inside, but it made for some nice pictures too!

After our long walk back down the hill and over to Pest, we went to St. Stephen's Basilica, Hungary's biggest church. Like almost all the churches in Europe, it was beautiful. Plus it contained the creepiest relic I have ever seen (not that I have seen all that many relics) ... St. Stephen's right hand. They put it in an elaborate holder, which looked like and elaborate doll house.

All that sight-seeing made us quite HUNGARY (really original ;). We certainly enjoyed all the deliciousness that was Hungarian food (even if it was a Friday during Lent). Those Eastern Europeans sure know how to cook!! I had a cream soup with chunks of Camembert cheese and a potato pancake filled w/ grilled vegetables ... sooo good!!

We walked around a bit more, until we stumbled upon everyone's favorite ... TGIFridays! I know what you're thinking! How is that even possible?! We were quite shocked as well and had to go inside to have their extreme mudslide.

That night we went on a boat tour. The city was absolutely amazing at night. They light up all of their main sights, which then reflect into the Danube ... it certainly makes for some great pictures (there are all Erin's picture's b/c she actually read her camera's instruction booklet, so it takes amazing night pictures).

It had been a long day, so we headed back to our creepy hostel. Even though everyone INSIDE the hostel was quite, it sounded like the entire world was in our room w/ us. None of us got a great night's sleep ... we weren't took happy about it!

Saturday morning we got up early and headed out to take a bike tour of the city. However, we weren't aware that they didn't give the tours during the off-season. That was our major plan for the day, so we were quite disappointed. So, we re-assessed. There wasn't much else that we hadn't seen in Budapest, except for the Hungarian Baths. We thought we could easily go to the baths and make it home to sleep in our own beds. So, we checked out of the hostel and lugged all of our crap w/ us to the baths.

When we first got to the baths we were really confused. We paid our admission, but we had no idea where we were supposed to go. We eventually found a nice lady who pointed us in the right direction. We changed and the wondered through the maze of lockers until we finally stumbled upon the baths. The first baths we saw were inside, and I won't lie, were a little creepy - filled w/ old people and annoying couples. We kept walking through all the adjoining rooms, and finally came across what we were looking for ... the OUTSIDE baths! It was a little chilly, but the baths were nice and warm.

After our time at the baths, we had one last Hungarian meal - Goulash, chicken in cheese sauce, potato puffs, and a dessert Hungarian pancake, before we caught the train back to Vienna.

Today, we thought we'd blend in w/ the Viennese at a coffee shop (no, not the "coffee shops" like in Amsterdam). The Viennese are known for the fancy coffees and extravagant pastries. Plus, you can stay at the coffee house as long as you want. So, we took some reading and enjoyed our afternoons :)

That's it from Vienna! I hope everyone is doing well!!!!
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