Well, for the first time in my life… I went to travel on my own– only a few days, but still. I had no idea what I would experience, didn’t know the language, understand the currency or transportation… and was honestly a bit nervous, but SO many people kept telling me how incredible it was so how could I not try?
I left Vienna early in the morning and took an early train to Budapest. The ride was only a few hours, but the train was CROWDED. Many people were sitting on the floor and it was hot! Do not worry though I got a seat and made the trip just fine.
Finding the hostel however, that is was not so simple. I wanted to stay at a hostel with great reviews close to the city i saw online. The problem was.. finding it. The hostel was on one side of the four sided square center, i walked around like 5 times and when I finally found the front desk.. FULL. Another hostel was across the street.. but this one didnt even have a sign except for the logo on a list of building residents at a big brown door that looked like a random house. MAYBE i am just not used to finding hostels in europe, but really it was confusing.
Lucky for me the second had space in a small dorm with only 5 female beds and a private bath. The beds even had these privacy curtains!
The more I travel. The more I want to get off the main tourist path and see the culture or the local things as best I can. It is all well and great to see the biggest well known attractions everyone knows and I am not saying it is not good to see those too, but remembering the local stuff is a more true experience.
So day 1- I just wandered toward the center of the city enjoying how different the city was and stopping at different buildings, such as the opera house! My best find was the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica, where there were breathtaking panoramic views of the city. In addition to this there was a light rain with many dark clouds which looked powerful and ominous.
At the top of this cathedral I met my first companion, a nice girl from Korea named Kim. She was also traveling alone and we decided to walk together for the day.
We went to have coffee at a nice cafe called Café Gerbeaud and then headed to the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
Following this we explored the Buda Castle/Gardens and got another incredible view of the city. I really cannot believe how many great views you can find in Budapest and in addition to that the architecture is really great as well.
Then towards nightfall we made our way to the Matthias Chruch and the Fisherman’s bastion. The church was made very powerful and a bit colorful, while the bastion was cool because it had so many features with another ariel view of the city.
One of the first things I did in Budapest was a walking tour. I did not know much about the city or its history so I wanted to start by learning a bit more.
My friend had suggested the communism walking tour so this is what I did.
Communism Tour Highlights-
– Heavy travel restrictions for individuals and almost impossible for families to travel to non communist countries until mid to late 1900’s
-Ronald Raegan Statue, He never visited Budapest, no family ties or business with the Hungarian people just respected him for his role in the cold war.
-Many died in famous square during protest against communism and spheres on the wall represent those 100 people that were killed
-Ending with the Shoes of the Danube that represent the people killed along the riverside so the bodies would be taken away by the rived, mostly jews.
Following the walking tour I headed to Citadella, a Hapsburg fortress with incredible views of the city. It took me a bit to find the way through all the curving paths, but I was in no rush and really love seeing panoramic rooftop views of the city whenever I can. There I met a nice girl named Alina and we walked around a bit together. She showed me the Central Market Hall, which was a really cool and reminded me a bit of singapore. There were tons of little shop/food stands with an open setting in a great big market hall!
Finally, I spent the rest of day the relaxing at the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and on the way home I passed Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes’ Square.
On the last day I packed A LOT in, too much really– but what i did see was really incredible.
I started my day traveling to Margaret Island. Probably one of the greenest parts of the city. On the island there was a nice fountain off the bridge and a sculpture of two giant leaves showing the union of Buda and Pest. I walked past a nice little petting zoo through a rose garden and found a budapest sign along the path. The island was a bit busy due to the national swimming competition, but still a nice place to go early in the morning.
Ruins on Margaret Island of a Dominican nunnery and there in the ruins I found the grave of saint Margaret.
After this i headed far north east of the city in the direction of the largest cave in Budapest. I had a bit of trouble making it to everything on time and walked uphill quite a bit, but I made it to the first cave called “Cave of Szemlö Hill” and turns out all the times I looked for tours before going were in hungarian… but english was in 30 min.
Therefore I waited for the english tour and actually had a private guide showing me around. The walls had this cool cauliflower look to them that is really rare for limestome to do, but this cave had hundreds of bunches. The rock also had this lasanga look and I was very impressed.
After this cave I headed to the largest cave in Budapest called Cave of Paul Valley. The cave system was 29 km long and filled with really nice rock formations. The tour i took was completely in Hungarian..so i wandered around with no idea what the guide was saying but i was just happy to see everything. Down in the caves it was a bit cooler temperature and the views were much more impressive than the last. This cave system also had many steep staircases carved in the rock, as well as a few stalactites hanging down. Definitely worth the journey to get there!
After this, i went to catch my train back to Vienna to rest a little before my Italy tour🇮🇹🙌🏼🍝🍕