I have randomly always wanted to go to Budapest, and on November 23rd that dream came true! Feeling adventurous, I went completely by myself, not knowing a single soul there. I checked into my hostel in the afternoon, and the hostel that I had chosen for my first night was interesting to say the least. It was this super hippie/Buddhist hostel in a residential neighborhood pretty far away from the center of the city. All of the walls and décor were very colorful, sunny, and filled with Buddhist motifs and Om symbols. There was incense burning and an Australian dude wearing orange drawstring pants working at the front desk. It was actually very relaxing but, in the end, not a great place to meet other young people who want to go out at night.
Anyhow, I set out that afternoon to go explore the city, making my way to the Pest side of Budapest (the west side of Budapest is called “Buda,” whereas the east side across the river is called “Pest”). Buda is generally prettier, with more hills and monuments, and Pest is more interesting and bustling. I immediately found Budapest to be very beautiful; it definitely has a grittier, more Eastern European feel to it than other places I have been to, yet is interspersed with gorgeous buildings in Gothic architecture. The first place that I went to was this shopping district that, disappointingly, ended up being very touristic. However, once I got out of there, I found a tiny café at which to eat; it was so small and cozy, and I had delicious Hungarian soup and mulled wine. Afterward, I went for a long walk along the river and eventually settled at a lovely park next to a giant church.
I was originally going to Couch Surf with this girl named Laura during my stay in Budapest, but for various reasons it didn’t end up working out. However, she still invited me to go out that night with her and her friends. Thus, after realizing how boss I am at figuring out public transportation systems, I eventually met up with her at her apartment. She had other Hungarian friends with her as well as an American girl who was staying with one of the Hungarian girls. The American one turned out to be from Seattle. I then learned that she just graduated from UW! I THEN learned that she lived in the same apartment complex as me!!! It was SO FUCKING BIZARRE! How did I meet someone who lived meters away from me in this random Hungarian girl’s apartment!? Like, what the fuck!?
Anyway, we went to a fancy marketing party for this company that Laura works for. It was so fun! We were able to dress up, and then they had a fashion show at the party. Afterward, they had a band playing and a DJ in another room. It was really cool, and I danced a ton of course =). Laura and her friends were so sweet and definitely showed me a good time on my first night in the city.
(Me, Lynn, the Seattlite, and Dorka, Laura’s friend)
The following day, I decided to move to a hostel that ended up being the best hostel in the whole world. It was called Carpe Noctem (seize the night) and was right in the center of the city. The staff, as well as the guests, were extremely friendly and fun, which created a really warm and familial environment. It was pretty small and felt more like we were just hanging out in someone’s really cool flat as opposed to being in a hostel. The staff also arrange for everyone to go out together every single night.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking and sightseeing, which included going to this castle in a park, Budapest’s largest cathedral, and the glorious Parliament building. It was so beautiful, in particular with the changing fall colors as a backdrop.
That night, I went out with everyone from my hostel. We first went to their sister hostel’s bar to have a jager train! It was wild. They have a million jager shots on top of whatever you mix with it to create a jager bomb, and they knock one over to create a domino of shots falling into glasses.
We then went to a bar for an open mic night. I met a some people who had been studying in Germany and hung out with them for most of the night. I also signed up to perform, and I somewhat drunkenly read a poem of mine… in French. It was my first time ever having written a poem in French!
(At the open mic night with the students I met)
I decided to spend my next day a bit more leisurely, seeing as I got home quite late the night before. It was definitely relaxing. That night, as my flight was extremely early for the next morning, I chose to stay in and watch a movie and eat pizza with some people from the hostel. It was actually really fun and a chill way to end my time in Budapest. My traveling soul was rejuvenated =).