Our last journey towards Budapest was bittersweet, it was the sign that our amazing trip was finally coming to an end we wouldn’t be getting on an international train again during the trip. We were entering the final few days of our interrail journey but at the same time we were looking forward to putting our bags down, relaxing in a nice hotel for a few days and exploring what would turn out to be one of my favourite cities.
I have to admit, we were initially a little apprehensive about travelling to Budapest, given the situation at the time; we had previously been watching news reports about the train stations in Budapest turning into temporary living areas for asylum seekers fleeing from the conflict in Syria. When we arrived we didn’t really see anything like we had expected to see from the news, the train stations were just like the rest we had visited throughout the trip.
I don’t know why, maybe because we were working our way north I had it in my head that Hungary was going to be a bit cooler than Italy and even Slovenia, I was wrong. As soon as we stepped off the train the heat was sweltering, easily above 30 degrees and we were staying on the other side of the river so had a good while to walk, however we soon realised that we wouldn’t be able to walk that distance with our backpacks in the heat so we jumped on the tram which took us most of the way, and I’m glad we did because the walk would have been a few miles which may have actually killed me in that heat.
I’m not going to lie, when we first got to the hotel we just kind of flopped on the bed for a few hours before heading out. You always hear about the adventure side of travel, the exploring and the food, you never hear about the feeling of a crisp bed after hours of being stuck on trains, busses and planes with all of your baggage then getting to your rest stop and collapsing on the bed, it really is one of the sweetest moments about travelling and having done most of my travelling solo, it was so much nicer to have Becky to share it with this time.
Despite my body and mind telling us to stay snuggled up in the cool bed, we dragged ourselves out of the hotel and made the most of the daylight, although we were so hungry. We checked out trip advisor for places to go, found a highly rated Italian restaurant but unfortunately were unable eat there without a reservation but found another place. Since it was nighttime we decided to check out something that I was really looking forward to for the whole trip, ruin pubs. Unfortunately I don’t appear to have any good photos of the ruin pubs, because you know…drunk
Ruin pubs were the brainchild of thirsty Hungarians looking for cheap places to drink beer and they succeeded, using these otherwise derelict buildings and plots of land dotted around Budapest but mainly in the Kazinczy area. The ruin pubs are just located in areas between standing buildings that look as though the space in between has been obliterated by a bomb, but if you delve further inside you will find vibrant drinking establishments with enough character to kill a horse. The beer is cheap and plentiful with a decent variety, and one of the ruin pubs we visited had a ton of food trucks inside and it was here that I sampled a few slices of pizza that were better than anything I had during our time in Italy. if you go to Budapest and enjoy a good drinking session or even if you just like experiencing the true vibrancy of a city I highly recommend you check out the ruin pubs of Budapest, you won’t be disappointed.
After filling up on pizza, veggie burgers and beer we decided to head back to the hotel and have a reasonably early night. The walk back was pleasant, the night air was warm and we even decided to be greedy and got a couple of falafel kebabs on the way back which we scoffed in bed watching TV 🙂
The next day it was another scorcher, we made our way up to high ground, the home of a pleasantly colourful building, Matthias Church. I don’t think I have ever seen a church as beautiful as this one, the colour and detail of the tiles that made up the roof were astoundingly beautiful. While we were at the church there was a wedding taking place and I couldn’t help but think it was one of the most picturesque city locations for a wedding, such a beautiful building overlooking the impressive architecture of Budapest.
Now I’m going to talk about the obvious sight you need to see, you may have guessed it, the parliament buildings, but there is a reason these buildings are on pretty much every promotional photograph for Budapest. The word awesome is so often overused, but these buildings literally do inspire awe, whether you’re standing right next to them looking up at the impressive level of detail that has gone into every inch or you’re looking over from the other side of the river, day or night you won’t be able to take your eyes off them. I spent at least an hour photographing these one night from the other side of the river as they were illuminated by the orange incandescent glow of the floodlights, hundreds possibly even thousands of bats swarmed in unison above the buildings; it wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Dracula movie.
The rest of the time we were in Budapest we spent walking around, taking in the sights, stopping for a beer or two, eating good food (Hungarian Goulash is a solid soup btw). We’d stop in ruin pubs and listen to live music, we’d sit by the river watching the boats go by and just generally enjoy the city. I think there is really something special about just kicking back and enjoying a city, not letting it pass you by in a whirlwind. I remember our last night in Budapest, we set ourselves up in a small ruin pub that was playing good music, I got myself a bottle of De Molen Hammer and Sickle beer and becky got a bottle of Mongoza fruit beer and we just relaxed and watched a few girls next to us rolling hundreds of pink cigarettes with 1kg of tobacco.
As I write this, the bittersweet feeling is coming back, I will be getting up for work in a few hours 😦 I am remembering our travels with great fondness, the food, the nighttime walks hand in hand, the beer, the wine, the sights, the time we got to spend with just each other and most importantly the night in Paris when we got engaged. Even though we are both working at the moment and feel like we’re in a pretty sad cycle of living just for two days a week, in under four months our dream will become a reality, when we finally get on our first plane to China with nothing but some money in our pocket and two brains full of ideas and a lust for adventure. I can’t wait to get travelling again 🙂