Discovering Underrated Budapest
I push my trolley through the uneven streets of Budapest. The stones that are carved in the street make it impossible for my luggage to easily follow me, like it’s supposed to. While in the search for my rented flat I get confused by every street name sign I encounter. The part of Budapest where I walk through is calm, and with one or two exceptions I barely spot anyone.
After a memorable taxidrive, that I got to share with the Dutch boxing team (!), the taxi chauffeur didn’t completely worked out where I had to go. So he just dropped me off somewhere in the city center. Luckily, after a couple years of solo-traveling I know my way around a city and with the right apps who tell me whether to go left or right, I finally get into the right direction.
Walking through the center, still looking for my studio, I notice a blonde guy, who leans into a wall of a small looking hostel, smoking a sigaret. My questioning facial expression, my suitcase and my sore feet probably gave away the fact that I was a tourist who has been traveling for far to long already.
I don’t know how he did it, but somehow he convinced me to book a room in his hostel. Did I say room? of course, I mean a bed.
He drags me into the lobby of the hostel – small but fun, filled with couches, a dozen of Australians and a bar – and books me a bed on a female dormroom. With a semi-casual ‘f*ck it’-attitude I say goodbye to my booked studio and say hello to the staff of the hostel. My love-hate relationship with hostels is one to never disappear, but somehow the fun of hostels always knows her way to win my heart, just as this time.
One of the Australians of the group, who appeared to all volunteer in the hostel, pointed me my way to my room, told me about the activities and gave me a couple of coupons for the bar. Her Australian accent did it: I was sold.
A while after I shoved my suitcase under my bunkbed I am walking through town again. I am not sure what my first stop is gonna be. I know the things I can see in Budapest, but a planning is yet to come. I stumble upon the catcafé, a small cafe of which I’ve heard a lot of things before visiting Budapest myself. The cat café apparently is close to my hostel so I decide to walk in and make a quick first stop. I think the cat café pretty much explains itself: a café in which you get three furry friends along with your coffee.
I enjoy my latte macchiato and my furry friends before I wander off further into the city. The best beginning of a busy citytrip.
The center of Budapest is smaller than I expected. With just a couple of big, main roads and a couple of smaller, uneven, older streets the center is pretty much defined.
I wander through the streets, I spot a market stand here and there, a nice restaurant, a church and of course the Parliament building, the Chainbridge and the beautiful palace and Fisherman’s Bastion across the river. They immediately make it clear for me that I definitely am in Budapest.
I now understand why they call Budapest an underrated city, even though I can hardly think of it the same way when I look around me and spot thousands of tourists – for some reason all American or Australian.
Budapest is beautiful, and literally around every corner there are even better places to discover. I definitely realize that when walking through town. For years I’ve been saying to myself that I definitely needed to visit Budapest ‘one time soon’. But only when you walk through town you realize ‘one time soon’ had to be way earlier.
I cross the river over the Chainbridge, of course, and arrive in one of the best parts of the city: the higher situated part of Budapest. I find the most beautiful view over the city but also spot the palace, the Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. I enjoy the picture that I’ve been dreaming about for so long already, even though the weather isn’t quite the best.
When the rain starts to get worse I run into the Matthias Church to shelter, waiting for the rain to stop (it doesn’t). I don’t mind: churches are beautiful, even while I am not a religious person I can definitely enjoy them. Every minute I see a new detail, built with love and a lot of hard work. Everytime I am perplexed. The rain doesn’t stop, but when the sun starts to set I return back outside to shoot a couple of photos from the view over the city. My initial plan is to wait until it gets completely dark to photograph the city in dark, but after a while I just give up. I’m soaked, so I return back to my hostel.
Budapest in dark is magical. I decide to join a river cruise one of the nights. It is beautiful to see the Parliament light up, to see the Chainbridge coming so close and to see the atmosphere in the city changing. It’s magical. I savor. I have a thing for cities at night. It’s just beautiful.
The river cruise only takes up one hour of my time after which I walk back to my hostel. The streets are getting busier, the restaurants are full and houses around me are lightened up. I make a quick stop at a restaurant to eat some risotto and a local dessert.
My hostel is fun. Other guests are already gathered up in the lobby of the hostel when I enter. I freshen up and join them, drink a couple of beers, and laugh at stories of others after which I tell my own. I learn how to speak with a Texan accent, how Americans aren’t voting for Donald Trump, what life looks like when you are a cruise ship employee, why all those Australians are in Budapest and what wodka-gummybears taste like (gross).
Budapest for me is the ultimate mix for solo-travel: during the day I get to explore the city while at night I return back to one of the most fun hostels I’ve ever stayed at. I stay in Budapest for three days, which is far too short for this city. There is so much more I need to see and do.
On the fourth day I return back home in the very early morning. After arriving at our local airport I discover my car isn’t working anymore and I have to wait for about two hours for help to come (different story, am not going to bother you with that one).
Anyway.. a less pleasant ending of a beautiful citytrip to this gem of Eastern-Europe.
Bye Budapest, see you soon.