So Budapest was also amazing and in totally different ways. We got to Budapest late on Saturday night and after a slightly sketchy ride to the apartment, got settled in and everything. The apartment was super cute and worked perfectly for what we needed, and its location ended up being really good even though it looked really weird when we were coming in that first night. Here's the building, which is a pretty good representation of a lot of buildings we saw there: so beautiful but sort of falling into disrepair. The apartment was new and very nice though.
One of the more shocking things was a total language barrier. There are definitely a good amount of people who speak English, and we didn't really have too much trouble because the people we needed to talk to always spoke English (tourist info people, tour guides, etc) but it did get a little complicated when buying groceries and stuff and trying to figure out what stuff is. Or trying to find your way around and the street names look like this:
Or just the signs in general being totally illegible, like not even close to anything I've ever seen before. I think it's probably the first time in my life I've been totally at a loss as to how to communicate with some of the people. For example, I went into this little grocer to get some eggs, and the woman didn't speak English. How in the world do you convey the question, "do you have eggs here?" with hand gestures or whatever?? You cannot. It is impossible. There is no international sign for eggs that I know of. So I just sort of looked wildly around the grocer, which was just one little room packed with produce and random stuff, until I spotted eggs on a shelf behind the counter and I pointed and held up 4 so she knew how many I wanted. Also, 4 eggs costed about 50 cents, or 170 Hungarian forint. The forint is obviously not the strongest currency out there, but we learned that although Hungary is a part of the EU, the euro won't be used in Hungary until their economy gets stronger. But anyway, a new experience in the communication way for sure.
The first day we were there was Easter Sunday which made things a little tricky since a lot of stuff was closed. However, it was all good once we found the center of the city because most things were still open. We had our first Hungarian meal (Hungarian food is AMAZING-- ranked 5th in the world, according to our tour guide). And it's also so cheap. We got three course meals, that were delicious, for like 7 euros. Pretty nice. We then went on a free walking tour, which was really nice not only because it was free. The guide was really enthusiastic and we learned a lot of the really interesting history of Hungary and it was a good orientation to the city.
This is the old palace of like the Queen of England or something. Strange, I know. Maybe it wasn't the Queen of England, but it was definitely originally built for the Queen of a different country who only visited Budapest once. I think it's now a government building of some kind. The building to the right of it is a really expensive hotel that I also can't remember the name of (wow my memory is impressive). The owner of the hotel originally wanted to build it inside of the palace, but the city said no. So they gave him some land beside it instead.
Views of the Danube River from Buda, one side of the city. Buda and Pest used to be two different cities and now they're Budapest!! So cool. We were staying in Pest, which has the center of the city as well as more residential districts. The Buda side is wealthier and has the palace and some other touristy destinations. Off to the left is the Parliament.
This isn't a great picture but it includes are guide, which is totally worth it. He was SO funny and spoke with a Hungarian accent and was really expressive and stuff when he talked, so he ended up sounding like Gaston or something. It was fantastic.
We then took a round-about way home to go see the Parliament, which is one of the most famous landmarks of the city (rightly so).
On the way home we stopped and got groceries. We were really improvising, to say the least. Our Easter dinner was chicken nuggets, sweet canned corn, and pasta all mixed together with marinara sauce. It actually was not bad at all. We also had some famous Hungarian wine. Didn't know Hungary was famous for its wine? Me neither. What our tour guide said was that Hungary is really good at making wine but really bad at marketing it. BUT kind of good news for us because that means you can get really high quality wine for around 3 euros. Pretty nice. We went out after dinner to the famous "Ruin Bars", which are bars that were converted from buildings that had fallen into ruin. They are SO cool. I couldn't really get pictures because it was too dark, but it was sort of the skeleton of the building and furnished with every cool thing you could think of that you would find at a flea market. For example, one room was decorated with old desktop computer monitors. Another had an adornment of a ton of old wine bottles stacked up in chicken wire. There were chairs hanging from the ceilings and old rocking horses and just anything you can think of. It was super cool.
On our second day we went to the Turkish baths, something Budapest is also known for. These are big old beautiful buildings filled with tons of different shapes and sizes of pools with all different temperatures, indoor and outdoor. We hung out there for the majority of the day because it was so cool. I obviously couldn't bring my camera into the pools so I don't have any pics:( Maddy took some with her GoPro but hasn't put them up yet.
We then went to this really cool fair that was next to the baths. We think it was going on because of Easter. This was SO fantastic because we got to try some of the really typical Hungarian foods. It was also a really cool atmosphere and the buildings were, again, amazing.
On our last day we just walked around the city a lot. Saw some pretty fantastic things.
Overall, a really incredible trip. How lucky I am to have this opportunity in the first place?
This week is Feria and it's CRAZY. I was a little sick before and after staying out 'til 5 a couple nights in a row I'm pretty much dead. Skipped going yesterday and hoping to rally today. So beautiful out. I'll put up a Feria post soon! Xo