Oh hello there. We do, in fact, still exist. We didn’t just decide to stay in Vienna forever and never come back, as can be verified by our travel timeline right there to the right. We’ve just been a little busy, and posting about Budapest and everything since then hasn’t really floated to the top of our to-do lists.
First, a note – today officially marks the one-year anniversary of this crazy travel adventure. As it always goes, it’s hard to believe it’s been one whole year already, though of course certain things already feel like they were ages ago. We’re definitely more and more excited each day to get back to having a home and a more “normal” daily life, but we both definitely agree that this year has been amazing and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
And now on to Budapest – which now that’s a bit in the past, I’m having trouble remembering a lot of the details. You’ve likely noticed by now that Brett’s posts tend to be far more detailed and chronological than mine, which is mainly a function of my far inferior memory for details. I’ll do my best, but just a warning that this will be a pretty basic summary of what was a really great and full week.
We left Vienna on June 13 and took what was supposed to be a train to Budapest. Central Europe was at the tail end of what was some of the worst flooding they’d seen in hundreds of years, and the train we should have been taking from Vienna to Budapest could not get from Munich to Vienna because of flooding. The train agency scheduled a different train to take passengers to Budapest, but decided to communicate this situation by flashing a giant “CANCELLED” next to our train on the station board. This was less than amusing, especially since we then had to find the agency office and figure everything out while lugging around our giant suitcases and bags full of all the wine and other souvenirs we were dragging home from Austria. But we did get on a train, and even though flooding meant we had to transfer to a bus and then back to a different train in order to get to Budapest, we still made it into the city only about an hour behind schedule.
Budapest was fantastic. We’ve often described it to people afterward as having the beautiful buildings and history of Western Europe but with a much more laid-back attitude – similar to the feeling we had in Buenos Aires, way back at the beginning of our international travel. Also like Buenos Aires the city felt very young, artistic, and hip, and we were very surprised by how … well, how hip everything felt, to use a word that is already overused. In comparison, Vienna definitely felt more old-fashioned and a bit behind the times.
While our time in Vienna was mostly rainy and cold, our time in Budapest was HOT. And I don’t mean that because of the paprika, but because it was about 98F almost every day we were there. That put quite a damper on our ability to explore on foot as much as we would have liked, but aside from some frustratingly hot and sleepless nights we made it work.
We rented a fantastic apartment in Budapest in an area of the city that felt fairly quiet yet young, the sort of place that hip young families might live, slightly southeast of the center. There was a lovely park about two blocks from our place, which we walked through at least once or twice each day, and our building was on a street with a wide selection of restaurants.
Despite the heat we still walked around the city quite a bit, stopping at sights like the synagogue (the second largest in the world, at that), the Great Market Hall, Hero’s Square, the old palace, the Museum of Terror (which was excellent, despite a depressing subject) and the Parliament building.
We also took two day trips, one north to the small town of Szentendre and one east to Eger. Eger is in Hungary’s wine district, and much of our visit consisted of tastings in the town’s wine caves – small rooms literally built into the rock, some more modernized and ready for tourists and some far more old-fashioned and basic.
The food and drink in Hungary is definitely worth noting. We absolutely loved most everything we ate and drank, though it was definitely heavy and we were happy to have a little more variety by the time we left. We loved the goulash and chicken paprikash, all the pastries and breads, and the beer and wine and fruit brandies.
At the end of our time in Budapest we flew back to the United States, with our heavy bags full of souvenirs in tow. This marked the end of our international travels, which we faced with mixed emotions.