Backpacking Diaries #8: Budapest (Part 1)

To be completely honest, I didn’t think I’d like Budapest all that much. It was a complete spur of the moment decision to fly to this city. I think it was more ignorance on my part because I didn’t really know much about Budapest. But from hearing everyone’s stories about why they love Budapest & from seeing the way their eyes light up when they discuss it, it made me realize that this place truly is something special.


Tuesday, November 20th, 2018.

I didn’t sleep much last night. Once again running on 2-3 hours of sleep. I woke up around 5:00AM to catch the shuttle to the airport. 

I didn’t purchase my ticket ahead of time so I talked to guy working at the bus stop to see if I could buy a ticket. He told me that I could buy one after everyone boarded. I was thinking ‘okay cool, no big deal’. But the bus completely filled up AND there were still people who purchased tickets ahead of time who didn’t get a seat on this bus. I panicked a bit because I had a flight to catch which clearly, everyone else did as well.

The guy working at the bus stop said there was another bus coming but I couldn’t risk it so I headed over to the next bus stop where a different airport shuttle taking people to the Ciampino airport was also boarding. I purchased my ticket with them and was on my way. 

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When I got to the airport, I took out my passport from my fanny pack, and I heard people yelling behind me. I was like what is going on here?? So I turn around and I see not one, not two, not three, but four people running up to me yelling something in Italian and pointing at the ground. I look down and see that I dropped about €90 on the ground. Thank goodness for amazing people in this world. How awesome that all of these people made sure I would get all of the money I had dropped.

Going through Ciampino airport is a breeze. It’s a really small airport which I really like. Not really a big fan of those international airports, but hey they get me to where I need to go so I guess I have to kinda appreciate them, right?

I guess it’s kind of a known thing that Ryanair does board a little bit late because once again, we didn’t start boarding until ‘gate close’ time, which was 8AM. 

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The flight was okay. Could be better because I got an aisle seat not a window ; ) but other than that, no complaints. It was a one and a half hour flight to Budapest.

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When we landed, first of all it was freezing. So I was cold. Thankfully I had my 9€ coat from Venice and a nice little red scarf I just bought the night before in Rome because it was so cold. Second of all, it finally hit me that wow, I was really doing this. I’m embarking on the solo chapter of this journey. I’m about to explore a new country all by myself and that was quite liberating. Not to sound cliche, but I felt so alive in that moment realizing that I’m doing this all on my own. I was so excited to go out there and check things out for myself. 

I first went to exchange some money at the airport to the HUF (Hungarian currency), bought a ticket for the 100E direct bus to the city center, and was on my merry way!

The bus dropped us all off near St. Stephens basilica which was beautiful!!! The architecture here in Budapest was breathtaking! 

I arrived at my hostel around 10:30AM hoping that maybe I could check in early but unfortunately the room wouldn’t be available until 2PM, so I decided to head on over to the Szenchyzi Thermal Bath! Budapest is known for their thermal baths. I chose the super popular one because that was the one with the bath outdoors. It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit & raining outside which I thought would make the experience even cooler so why not?

I used my apple maps to figure out where I was going. So dependent on my phone.. I really should try to navigate with using just a paper map. But anyway, it took only about 30 minutes to walk there. 

Since I bought my ticket at the front desk of my hostel, I got to skip the line at the desk and get my wristband right away. 

I headed downstairs to the locker rooms, got changed, then headed up to the baths. They had so many baths indoors but I was only really interested in the outdoor one. I ran outside with my shirt & shorts over my swimsuit and a little towel. 

I put everything on a lawn chair they had sitting outside, and ran into the bath. The bath welcomed me with open arms in the freezing Budapest weather. It was insane. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. Hanging out in a thermal bath in Budapest. What?!? Is this real life? I’m not sure. But either way, after all of this backpacking, I was more than ready for a spa day..

Inside the thermal bath they had jets located throughout & waterfalls that give you a nice back massage. It was so relaxing and peaceful that I decided to stay there for 2.5 hours hahaha.

After the thermal bath, I went to grab my stuff to go back inside. It was a bad idea to bring my clothes & towel outside because since it was raining out, it all got soaked. 

As I was walking towards the stairs to go back inside, I saw a sign for the sauna pointing downstairs. I am a sauna & steam room fanatic so of course I had to go. The sauna was super hot just how I like it. 

I stayed in there for a bit then headed back to the locker rooms. By the time I was finished with everything it was about 3:30PM which meant I could check in! 

I was excited to get the key to my room because I wanted to go in & meet all my roomies. I got into the room and no one was there lol. Everyone must’ve been out & about. 

So I decided to hop on over the grocery story down the way & grab a quick sandwich to go for lunch. I ate that down in the common dining area in hopes of possibly meeting someone but once again, it was empty. 

I was exhausted after the early morning flight & I think the bath as well. So I climbed up onto my top bunk and passed out. Like seriously passed out. Super deep sleep. The deepest I’ve ever slept, no joke.

I woke up around 8 or 9PM. I kind of wanted to go out but didn’t really know anyone, and going out alone in a foreign country is probably not such a smart idea. I decided to just go out & do my laundry instead. 

The Bubbles laundromat was the one I went to but their machine wasn’t working for some reason. I really wanted to do my laundry that night because my clothes were soaked from the thermal bath earlier but guess not. I just ended up walking around Budapest instead. I basically slept the entire day away anyway so sleeping wasn’t an option for me right now..

Budapest is one of the cities that I feel completely safe walking alone at night. There’s a lot of people still out on the town & guys don’t harass or cat call me here. I walked around for over an hour with no headphones on just listening to the sounds of the city. I like to find myself fully getting lost in the city I’m visiting, and going on a walk by myself is one way for me to do so.

I stumbled upon fashion street with all of the pretty Christmas lights and decorations outside. There’s a sense of serenity I feel from being bundled up, walking through the beautiful display of lights, and observing the lively city at night. I think it’s because it almost makes me feel like I’m at home. Home as in my actual home: Minnesota. It makes me feel comfortable. Safe.

I ended my night with a Nutella croissant at my favorite local bread shop and made my way back to bed. Another day in Budapest awaits me & I can’t wait to see what the day brings tomorrow.

Cindy

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