There’s nothing like Budapest at sunset.
One thing I have learned in all my travels is that even after the most stressful situations, once you finally arrive and embrace the adventure and thrill of a new city, it isn’t long before you forget about all the anxiety that led you there.
Our journey to Budapest was one of those situations. Looking back, it’s almost comical now (almost). After spending five hours running around the Netherlands trying to find a way to get to Budapest after missing our first train (and consequently our two connections), we finally booked a last minute plane ticket and landed safe and sound around 3pm.
We took a cab to the Airbnb we had booked, watching the gray sky threaten rain. When we were a few minutes away, it started to pour. We turned into our street ready to make a run for the door before it got worse.
That’s when the hail started.
Science people of the Internet someone please explain to me how it is even possible for it to hail in 80+ degree weather!?
Now I have lived in Boston. I’ve seen hail. But I have never seen it so bad. Huge chunks of ice banged on the car from all directions. The road was covered in white specks as if it was snowing. The sound was deafening. On the street, locals were poking their heads out their windows and doors and taking videos and pictures.
Okay so this wasn’t a normal Budapest occurrence.
We stayed parked right outside the apartment for almost half an hour until a brief respite allowed us to grab our bags and bolt towards the shelter where our host was waiting.
The hailstorm was followed by a lightning storm so we accepted defeat and stayed in the rest of the night.
The next morning we woke late and grabbed the most delicious lunch at Fruccola near the Basilica. From there we walked over to the ticket office for the Big Bus Sightseeing Tour. It was a gorgeous sunny day, the hottest yet. Perfect to roam around in a big bus and get to know the city.
We took the bus all the way around, jumping off at the Citadel and the Castle District to explore and take pictures.
It didn’t take long to fall in love with Budapest. The architecture and the colors, the breathtaking view of the Buda Castle and Parlament and the Basilica and all the other beautiful buildings silhoutted on the Danube River in the strong orange light of a fading sun.
Basically if you’re not in love with the city by twilight, you need to reevaluate your life.
Our bus tickets included a night cruise so around 7pm we walked down to the docks where we promptly decided to splurge for an upgrade and turn our little sightseeing boat tour into a full-on three-hour four-course meal down the Danube.
We were the youngest ones there by a couple decades but the views were so stunning from the water and the food was so good and the music was perfect and it really was a wonderful way to end our first day.
We met up with my friend Richie after the cruise to go grab drinks at Szimpla Kert.
This bar was way cool. It’s a must if you’re ever in Budapest. We had been treating our trip more as vacation than a party. This was the first night we had gone out and it was so necessary. After a few drinks, we made our way to what could plausibly be conceived as the dance floor and tried to get people to start dancing.
The DJ wasn’t helping, playing some lame lounge music but we paid him no attention and danced as hard we could to whatever was playing until we got more and more people to come out and he finally changed the beats.
So yeah we brought the pachanga to Budapest.
We stayed there for hours dancing nonstop, finally leaving around 2am to see if we could head somewhere else. Somewhere along the way the exhaustion hit us so we wandered the streets until we found the Basilica. From there I knew my way back so we said goodnight to Richie who was staying on the other side of the river and walked back. After a quick and necessary shower, we collapsed in the bed and slept until noon.
We decided to take it easy on day two and go check out the thermal baths. After another wonderful lunch at Fruccola, we made our way to Szechenyi Bath, one of the largest and best (so we’re told).
We spent the most relaxing afternoon exploring the pools and saunas and enjoying unlimited fruit plates and tea.
I didn’t realize how much my body needed a nice relaxing detox. It felt amazing.
Around 5pm, we reluctantly left. After a quick shower stop at the apartment, we met up with Charlotte’s cousin who lives in Budapest for dinner. It was sunset when we finished up so we headed over to Margit Island and walked around as twilight descended.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.
We watched the fountain show in the park and headed back over the river at dusk, the sky now a brilliant lavender and pink.
After saying goodbye to her cousin, Charlotte and I headed over to the West End mall to catch a late screening of Jurassic World.
Come on, you’re talking to two huge movie buffs did you really think we were going to wait until we got back to America?
Unfortunately, we were both really let down by the film for a ton of reasons which I don’t want to go into now for spoiler reasons but I’ll definitely be writing about later.
We were so fired up after the movie and stayed up discussing it until 2am when we realized we had to be up in a couple hours to catch our train.
I’m writing this now en route to Salzburg. We’re arriving around noon, just in time for The Sound of Music tour we had booked. We’re only spending one night and heading out tomorrow afternoon for our final stop in Prague.
I’m beyond excited for this tour. The Sound of Music is one of my top five favorite films and doing this has been on my bucket list as far back as I can remember.
I can’t believe I’ll be home in just a few days — this past week has flown by, even faster than the first. I already really miss Budapest. It was definitely one of my favorite cities and I can’t wait to go back someday.
This trip just keeps reminding me there’s always worth in revisiting cities, especially when you come back a different person than before. You see everything in another perspective and there’s always something new to learn.
If I had one wish, it would be to never stop traveling and never stop learning.