My sincere apologies to all those breathlessly anticipating new blog posts – please, hold the tears – I’ve been away on a grand holiday (p.s. that last bit is more fun if you read it in a pompous British accent). This is the first instalment of what I like to call “Mo’s Grand Easter Adventure!”, a 4-part series of average story telling, amateur pictures, and a truly extraordinary adventure.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” I suppose I owe a huge shout out to the best travel companion ever, Miss Emi Lungmus (she’s in all my pics – can’t miss her). We began our journey in Budapest, Hungary, where we attempted to experience the character of the city in one short day. This central/eastern European gem blends the elegance of Viennese culture with the darkened grandeur of Eastern Europe, creating a unique cultural centre. After our 2-hour morning train ride, Emi and I checked into our Hostel (for future travellers: check out Maverick City Lodge for a great stay) and asked for a lunch recommendation seeing as we were extremely (wait for it) hungry in Hungary. We enjoyed a traditional Hungarian meal of Paprika chicken and Hungarian wine at Bali Cafe, walked around the street markets, and headed to St. Stephen’s Basilica before our free walking tour. As we were walking in, a sweet British man held the door for us and Emi instinctively shouted “Danke schön!” He replied in German with a big grin on his face and asked if we were from Germany. Laughing, we told him we’re from the States, studying in Vienna, etc. etc. and next thing you know, I find out he’s a classical British composer and his wife is an artist (she does his CD cover art – it’s too cute to be true). After a nice long chat, he gave us 3 of his CDs and bid us farewell…I’ve yet to listen to the CDs, but apparently he is compared to Bartok and Shostakovich, so he might be an undiscovered genius, who knows. Also inside the church we saw “The Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen” – literally the preserved hand of the first Hungarian king and Holy Saint of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (too bad Vienna didn’t get ahold of that…JK).
The 3 hour (FREE, an abroad student’s favorite word) walking tour began at the Basilica (in Pest) and ended across the river in Buda. (Important side note: Budapest used to be two cities divided by the river, Buda and Pest.) We saw lots of superstition-ridden statues, walked across the famous Chain Bridge, climbed up to the castle, saw the famous parliament building and the Matthias Church, and learned a lot about Hungarian history (most of which I’ve since forgotten). We made friends with a sweet German girl named Marie (who spent a year in the US in high school and is going back next year – GO AMERICA) and indulged in coffee at a fancy coffee-house back in Pest. Best travel tip ever: meet people, listen to their stories, and make friends – this world is full of incredible people that can change your life for the better.
Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize the picture of bright, cerulean waters surrounded by beautiful a Baroque building. The entire city of Budapest lies on top of natural hot springs and Budapest is therefore known for it’s thermal baths. Emi and I haphazardly navigated our way on the metro to the Szécheny Thermal Bath (completely worth the 16€) for 2 hours of utterly blissful relaxation (and a super awesome human whirlpool). Needless to say, if you ever find yourself in Budapest, go to the thermal baths, you will not regret it. Supposedly, another “can’t miss” attraction in Budapest are the “Ruin Bars,” so called because they are bars literally functioning inside of Roman Ruins. Emi and I, being the night owls that we are (lol), took to dinner at a park of food trucks and an early bedtime in preparation for the Camino (lots coming on that!)
My suggestion: don’t just watch the Grand Budapest Hotel, go to Budapest – it’s definitely somewhere worth exploring. Part II of Mo’s Grand Easter Adventure coming soon – stay tuned!