I’ll be honest, I went into a little bit of a funk after our last visitors left because I didn’t know what to do with myself! After being on the go for a whole month, not having every day filled with plans was a novelty! And I had to start cooking again, which was a bummer. But my health certainly likes it better hahaha.
And I didn’t have to sit long before we were off on our next adventure!! Stephen found out that there was another “bank holiday” on a Thursday, which means no work! And most people don’t usually go into the office the Friday after a holiday, for obvious reason. So we braved the overnight train yet again (this time was a lot more comfortable because it wasn’t so hot!!) and went to Budapest, Hungry for 3 days!
Budapest is a very interesting city…it is actually 2 different cities separated by the Danube river: Buda on one side and Pest on the other (pronounced “Pesht”). We started with a walking tour on Thursday afternoon. A lot of the cities we have been to in Europe have free walking tours, which are awesome!! You are not obligated to pay at all, but tip what you think the tour was worth at the end if you were satisfied! I think this is a great system, and the guides are always fantastic because they have to work hard for your money 🙂 Anyway, on the tour we saw a couple of the main squares, learned about the drinking culture in Budapest (of course that’s the questions when the whole group is 20-somethings!) saw some of the University buildings, St. Stephen’s Cathedral (the largest church in Budapest) walked along the river and across the Chain Bridge, and then made the trek up to Castle Hill. The palace itself has been damaged so many times by war, it is not a place of residence anymore. It houses some museums, but the funny thing is, it was not even fixed up properly…there are plastic windows! But the St. Matthias Church on the hill was very beautiful! We were not able to go inside because it was closed at the time. Stephen and I were not terribly disappointed because we have literally lost track of the number of churches we have been inside. But the roof of this one is made of colorful tiles which was very different! The Fisherman’s Bastion was one of my favorite things because it looks like a sandcastle! And the view from the hill was very beautiful.
We had an early night in on Thursday because we were so tired after the train ride (when I saw early, I mean we went to sleep at 9:00 and woke up again at 8:30 haha). On Friday we took a boat cruise down the Danube, and got off at Margaret Island, which is in the middle of the river. It has a few hotels and a water park, lots of trees and grass areas, a jogging trail, a cute old church and monastery ruins, and also houses the complex where they train water-sport athletes for the Olympics and other national competitions. After the cruise we went to the Sczechenyi Baths. Budapest is built on top of hot springs, and the city is full of indoor and outdoor thermal baths. We went to one of the most popular for tourists, but even so, a majority of the signs were in Hungarian so we weren’t quite sure about each of the different pools besides being able to read the temperature…but some of the minerals made them smell really funny. There was a GIANT warm outdoor pool, lots of small hot tubs, some freezing cold tubs, and a bunch of saunas that could melt your face off. And a long oval pool that had a current so if you got close enough to the wall and picked your feet up, you could ride around…that was my favorite part 🙂 It was a relaxing afternoon!
During the rest of our time in Budapest we visited the Central Market Hall, saw the Parliament Building (crazy architecture!) took a tour of the Opera House with a “mini concert” at the end, walked to the top of Gellert Hill, and visited the Cave Church. It was a great trip!!
This past week and a half in Krakow we have been taking it slow. Unfortunately we had to say good-bye to our friends Traci and Stephen who returned to the US last week. But tonight we are going to an InterNations event which should be fun! (InterNations is an expat group that holds an event every month or two). And then on Friday we leave for Barcelona and our cruise! BEYOND excited of course 🙂
Return home: 29 days!!!!