Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Budapes(h)t and Wien part 1

This past week I went on my longest solo trip to date. I was gone a week and went to see Budapest and Vienna. It was amazing. Hands down. And since I have so many cool photos and things to say about the trip I'm going to divide up the entries. Easier that way.

To start, I took a bus from Valladolid to Madrid at 4am on Saturday March 30th to catch my RyanAir flight at 9:30. Despite the bus breaking down, I got there with time to spare! Small miracles. I arrived in Budapest and made my way using public transportation to my hostel. It took about an hour to get from the airport to the city since I had to first take a bus and then the metro. I had written out all the directions beforehand though, so I arrived at The Loft hostel without any problems.

Hostel building

The hostel was on the top floor of an old apartment building and, true to its name, featured lofted ceilings. It was a really unique, small place, with murals on all the walls and lots of personal interactions with the staff. I met a lot of people there, which was great for my plans to see Budapest's "ruin pubs" and general nightlife.

Did I mention I paid 12 euro a night?

I set off pretty soon after arriving to ambitiously walk the 2+ miles (didn't realize it was so far!) from my hostel up Andrassy Avenue to get to the Szeechenyi baths. On my way I stopped at the Terror House museum, a building where the Hungarian Nazi party and later Communist party imprisoned, tortured, and killed many people. Seeing that alone in the rain made for a pretty heavy experience, so finishing up my night relaxing in the baths was a perfect plan.

This pool had a whirlpool current in the middle which was really fun to get into, if hazardous for those around you. Sorry old man!

My next two days in Budapest consisted of sightseeing mostly on my own in the rain. My favorite things to see were the Parliament, Matthias Church, Vajdahunyad Castle, the sculptures of shoes along the Danube, and the new Helmut Newton exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum. On my one sunny day I went on a free walking tour that focused on Budapest's communist past. Really interesting!

Terrible handheld self portrait in front of the Parliament

I found lots of things to see rather haphazardly. While I was strolling around the Castle District waiting for the Matthias Church to open (see photo below), I stumbled across the labyrinth of Buda Castle. Knowing how much I love caves, of course I went in. It was really creepy and dark, and it turned out that Dracula had been imprisoned there for years! No wonder I found that place. Good to know that my old love for vampires still governs my subconscious...

Matthias Church is now my favorite church.

Memorial to those killed by the Arrow Cross
 I came back to Budapest after spending a few days in Vienna. When I bought tickets, it was cheaper to fly out of Budapest from Madrid. I paid 150 euro round trip! And getting there via bus was easy, quick (just 3 hours), and cheap (um, 15 euro round trip?). I spent the day seeing that Newton photography exhibit and strolling around the city looking for second hand shops.

Amazing exhibit featuring his private work, self published magazines, and editorial fashion work

I liked Budapest so much! It was mostly pretty cheap thanks to the Forint (300HUF about 1 euro), and I was told by the hostel owners to not pay more than 500HUF for a beer. The food was good, people were very nice, and I just loved the spirit of the city. It was kind of old and run down but at the same time incredibly beautiful. And with people creating innovative spaces out of once abandoned buildings, I thought the city had a lot to offer! I'd go back tomorrow if I could.

More to come about Vienna... in the mean time, have some more photos. :)

Fisherman's bastion and Matthias Church

Restaurant for dinner one night

Vajdahunyad Castle


  1. Gorgeous photos!
    Love you. You have the Mondol wanderlust!

  2. Great post and great photos!!! I should have gone with you... Damn I'm so broke!!

  3. Love your pictures, makes me want go to Budapesh!