4 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IN BUDAPEST
Zakopane, Poland to Budapest, Hungary. A three bus journey. A town bus (hostel to the town center), domestic bus (the town to Krakow), and then our international bus (Krakow to Budapest). First bus to the town was at 5:45 AM. We woke up at 6:00 AM in a complete panic. Missed the initial bus which messed up the trip from the start. We ran out the door, and to continue our unfortunate luck, no taxi was available. Thankfully the blue hostel van pulled up the driveway. Before the owner could get out, we threw our luggage in the trunk and he drove us to the bus station in town.
As we were pulling up to the station, we saw the big, red Polski bus pulling out of the station. That was our bus, AH! Missed it. Ok, next bus to Krakow was cutting it really close to the time of our bus to Budapest. Not wanting to make it more stressful, we took the reliable route, taxi.
A taxi from Zakopane to Krakow. A 400 zl (110 USD) mistake all because I wanted to sleep a few minutes after the alarm buzzed. Yes, I will take the blame for this one, but it sure was an expensive mistake. We arrived in time to the bus station in Krakow, but our bus to Budapest was running late. The bus from Zakopane (that we thought about taking) pulled up with time to spare.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda, we took the "L" on that one and accepted it. We arrived in Budapest calmly and found our Airbnb (Below), which not to mention, was a perfect little loft, stellar location, and simply dream apartment if I could create it right now in my life.
[BELOW] The perfect little place we stayed. (Left) Common area, loft above, kitchen and bathroom behind (not pictured). (Right) entrance and open court yard out back.
Budapest, Budapest, Budapest... Before going to Budapest I did not have many expectations and I do not know why. I tried my best to keep an open mind, but for some reason whenever anyone recommended it, I kind of subconsciously dismissed it. It was not part of my original list of cities I was excited to visit.
First of all, I did not want to initially visit Budapest because it was one of the cities my best friend wanted to visit if she came to see me. So I thought if I leave it out now, maybe she will still come and we would go together. I felt a little guilty going without her, because I know she wanted to see it so badly. Sorry Jacks, I did it without you this time. BUT I will be returning very soon, and it better be with you.
Budapest is such an intriguing city. Manageable, beautiful, and cheap! Although it was rainy and gloomy the short time we passed there, I fell in love with it and that is why it is worth a return.
Below are a couple recommendations I have to those of you wanting to visit Budapest in the future...
Recommendations for Budapest:
1. Visit the Parliament building, hard to miss!
There are many beautiful buildings in Budapest, but the Parliament building (Right) is probably the most recognized in the city. It is a truly stunning building. The magnitude and detailed architecture gives it a lot of depth when looking at it. It leaves you a bit of mystery, at least for me. I wanted to know what was in every window/room.
[BELOW] are two pictures of me in front of Budapest Parliament. I hope it can help put the size of the building into perspective. I was standing in the same spot in both pictures. The one on the left is taken with an iPhone 7 (Regular lens) and the one on the right is taken with my GoPro (Extreme fisheye lens, capturing the whole building).
2. Walk along the Danube River and cross one of the many bridges
The Danube River is the river that runs through Budapest. It splits the two original cities of Buda and Pest, which later were united, creating the capital city we know today as Budapest. The banks of the Danube River have so many different spots to visit whether you are looking for food, memorials, sightseeing, or a chill place to sit and take in the beauty of the city.
There are many bridges that cross over the river to the opposing bank of the city (Buda or Pest). We passed over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge (Above) by foot and took the tram over another.
3. Visit the Budapest Royal Castle
Another neat thing to do in Budapest is to walk up to the Royal Castle. There is a big area of grounds surrounding the castle (up and around it). We visited the open exhibits of the castle, as well as the art Gallery located on the grounds. It is a different place to explore. Like a mini city within a larger city. But what you definitely can not and should not neglect is the view that over looks the entirety of Budapest and the Danube river. It is incredible.
4. Buy a Metro ticket
The cities I visited in the Central-East Europe (Krakow, Budapest, Prague, etc. moving East), also the Balkin area, do not directly charge to ride public transportation. It is all run on the honor system (Boston stay the way you are). You may think this is a dream come true. You can just be dishonest and you can ride for free whenever you want. Not the case.
You buy a ticket for less than a Euro and then you stamp it by a little machine before you enter the actual train. You can easily get away with not buying a ticket, however, there are monitors who walk around controlling the lines. They randomly approach people and ask for tickets (undercover status), or sometimes they are dressed as official public transportation workers. In this case you are able to plan an escape route before they arrive, or they are dressed as totally normal civilian. OR in my case they are perched at the exit, asking everyone for their tickets as they exit, making sure the tickets are present and verified by the machine.
As we left the metro all bags in hand. We could see up above the exit, 12 steps away, a control asking everyone for their tickets. Sh**! We did not even have enough time to fake an excuse or even play dumb. They caught us, even though we both thought of buying a €1 ticket just incase from the beginning but we did not see a visible ticket machine on the stop we entered the metro. But that is easy to say after the fact. The officer asked me for my passport and I was not comfortable with handing it to him. I accepted the ticket, asked what we needed to pay, and he hit us with a PHAT fine. AH! basically a $1.25 ticket ended up costing us $60. Maybe it is an over reaction... not terrible, but so avoidable. I miss turn styles, that make you buy a ticket, although we try and cheat those in the States too. Screw the honor system, people are not honest, and I can say I am in that category. Oops.
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This is my experience, followed by a few recommendations to anyone traveling to Budapest!
I would love to hear your stories too! Share and comment your stories!
Have you ever visited Budapest? What did you think about the city? Ever plan on visiting?
And any other recommendations!!! We look forward to hearing your stories!