Hello Friends, Fam, wordpress users who clicked on my abundant tags, and confused facebook friends who thought this was a quiz to figure out which Full House Character you are. (I haven’t taken the quiz yet, but my guess is I’d be Comet, I’ve always felt a deeper connection with his storyline).
ANYWAYS hey to all. I’m finally back and well rested from my eleven day spring break adventure! I can’t believe I get to say that my Spring break in 2014 was spent in Budapest, Amsterdam, and Barcelona with my best friend. But it’s real. And I did. And now I’m going to write about it so that I have proof that I did. So here I go:
I left Dublin for Budapest on Thursday March 13th. I arrived in the Budapest airport at 11 a.m. to a very exhausted roommate who had been waiting there for me since 1 a.m. Once we figured out the bus and train system we were on our way to the city. I have to give a huge thanks to Ash for doing all the homework and picking out the best possible hostels to stay in during our travels. She did an amazing job! Our Hostel in Budapest was a two minute walk from St. Stephen’s Basilica as well as walking distance from almost everything in the city. One thing Ashley and I learned over our travels is that a walking tour of the city is an absolute must. We found a tip-based, free walking tour of Budapest where we learned a lot of really interesting things that at this point I probably remember about 1/3rd of. BUT we live in the age of the internet, and therefore I can cheat.
Budapest (pronounced Buda-pesht) is the capital of Hungary. There are two parts of the city which are separated by the Danube river. We were staying on the Pest side. The Pest side, while still possessing incredibly beautiful, and seemingly old, buildings everywhere, is considered the more modern side of the city. Many of these seemingly old buildings with incredibly detailed architecture, actually only date back to the late 19th, early 20th century. Regardless of their young age, they were still incredible. Especially St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is tied as the tallest building in Budapest with the Parliament building to symbolize an equal importance of government and religion. The Buda side of the city, mainly the castle district, is equally as beautiful. It’s where a lot of the wealthier Hungarian citizens live (including the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube) as well as the home to the amazing Castle district. We had a gorgeous view of the Danube and the Pest side of the City once we reached the top of the Royal Palace. We also saw the Mathias Church which looks like a Disney Princess Castle.
Unfortunately we only had two and a half days to spend and we didn’t get to climb to the highest point, or take a Turkish Thermal bath, or see any of the really cool museums like The House of Terror. BUT we did try chimney cake (sooo amazing) and we did go caving. Well, Ashley did everything but drag me by my hair to go caving. (technically it’s called Spelunking, but I can’t type Spelunking without hysterically laughing, so for the sake of finishing this blog in a timely manor, let’s call it caving). Budapest is built on top of underground springs, responsible for the naturally heated thermal baths. These thermal springs have also created caves and these caves have become a guide-led adventure for people to partake in. I was so so so scared, but after a pep talk from Ashley during which I was called the explicit name of a lady’s certain body part multiple times, I really had no choice. We put on some intense caving gear and we were on our way. The experience was incredible. There were times when we had to squeeze through holes so tight, some of the bigger people were forced to take an alternate route. There were also giant rooms in the caves and at one point while we were all sitting together in one of the bigger rooms, our guide told us to turn off our lights on our helmets. We sat in pitch black darkness. It was so peaceful. Then our guide sang a traditional Hungarian song with the complete darkness and the echos of the cave. And then he asked if any of his group members could sing. Ashley couldn’t keep her mouth shut and I was forced to sing, but luckily it was pitch black and no one could see my bright red face.
That night we decided we would do a bar crawl. Budapest has a lot of “ruin bars” which are bars built in the ruins of the Jewish quarter, which was abandoned after World War II. We only got to check out one on our bar crawl but they seem absolutely insane and a total must if you’re in Budapest. Bar Crawls are also a great way to meet people when you’re traveling. Almost all the people on this bar crawl, however, were UCD students on spring break. Small world (small world seemed to be a recurring theme on this break as I traveled from country to country). Ashley and I made friends with the people that run the Bar Crawl. Daniel, Chris, and Michael. Meeting new people is one of the absolute best things about traveling. The stories people have to tell are incredible. Simply asking Daniel his last name, led to an amazing story about his grandfather, who was in the Holocaust and in line to enter a death camp only to make a run for it and get shot in the back. He survived the shot, but remained on the ground to appear dead and escape in the night. Chris and Michael came from England. They had intended to visit Budapest for only four days.. that was two months ago. They ended up becoming great friends with Daniel and just decided to live with him and help him with the bar crawl.
Out of the countries Ashley and I visited we voted Budapest the best one to study abroad in. English is incredibly easy to come by, prices are affordable, and the ruin bar nightlife as well as museums and communism, or Jewish walking tours prove there’s always something to do there. Sadly our two and a half days in Budapest were over before we knew it, but I have every intention of returning. It was incredible and I still have so much I’d love to be able to do there! But it was time to pack our bags and head to our next destination: Amsterdam. <- blog post coming soon!
Unfortunately throughout the trips I relied on Ashley’s super fancy Nikon camera and kept my phone in my pocket only to find out she can’t upload pictures to her computer at the moment! But my mother is really pushing for these blog posts and so you’ll have to rely on my words and less on the pictures. As soon as Ashley gets the opportunity to upload the pictures I’ll share them asap.