Thursday, Oct. 25
We arrived late last night to our hostel, Mandala hostel . It is a small three-bedroom apartment tucked into a cool apartment building with a courtyard. Our beds are lofted. It is beautiful and cool. A kitten greeted us this morning in the tiny kitchen, which freaked Lauren out while Issy and I owwed and ahhed.
Today we walked and walked – all over this side of Budapest, called Pest. We explored all that Pest had to offer. We walked and walked until we made it to Heroes’ Square, where a monument stands to honor the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest of the Carpathian Basin, according to my Lonely Planet guidebook. Then our tired legs needed a break and we were told that mainland Europe’s oldest underground is here in Budapest. I still would like to fact-check that, but until then we are sticking with it. After riding it first-hand, I believe it. It was so shaky, old and not all that appealing. From Simon White’s recommendation, we ate at the Hummus bar. Issy, Lauren and I met Simon at our hostel in Krakow. Simon is a vagabond – like many that I meet, but Simon was different. He had this familiarity about him that made you want to snuggle next to him on a bench and hear him tell stories for hours. He recommended a few good eats here in Budapest, and so far we have been very happy. At Hummus Bar, I had a Kebab sandwich, which was a fresh pita filled with hummus, spices, vegetables, and lamb. Yum. Thanks, Simon. Then after eating, we and came back to the hostel to enjoy tea and biscuits. Yum.
It didn’t take to much convincing to get us out last night. After eating dinner, I am pretty sure all three of us admitted we were tired and could have nice night in. That lasted for about two hours. After the food settled and we heard some people from the hostel were going out – we were off to the store to buy bits for dinner and a bottle of wine, each.
Adan came by the hostel to join us for a night out. We met Adan (and his friend Nehemiah) in Krakow. Adan (from Phoenix) and Ne (from North Carolina) are studying computer science in Budapest this semester. These two American computer nerds sure surprised us during our night out in Krakow. Nehemiah danced as if he was a professional tap dancer at a dubstep club, and Adan was this surprisingly sexy Mexican charmer. When Adan heard we were staying in Budapest, he was happy to met up again.
After finishing our bottles of wine, it was time to buy more at a nearby shop. This is when we met everyone staying at our little hippie hostel. An odd group to say the least. There was Steve, the bald, bearded Canadian, Englishman Jack, Belgian Fred, Hungarian Furi and some other Hungarian guy, the lovely Canadian couple, Shannon and James. Oh, and two french guys.
Our group made our way through public transport and to some odd looking club, where we were greeted by a much older crowd than expected and catered food. I still don’t know what the food was about, but Adan and I acted like we owned the place and piled a plate high with bread and meat. It was delicious.
After a few bad beers and maybe some shots, the group was downstairs in the club watching some older Hungarian woman sing karaoke – in Hungarian. I don’t know if it was her skin-tight black dress or her fur sleeveless jacket that confused me more. Maybe, it was the Hungarian. After someone removed the microphone from her death grip, our group took the stage. We danced and sang for what seemed like 30 minutes. After looking at my watch, I realized we had been down there for over an hour. They convinced me to sing Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic,” which was a huge hit. By that time, it was time to wrap up and head home. But no big night out in Budapest is complete without a late-night Kebab. Yum.
Oct. 26 – Friday 6pm
No surprise that I didn’t leave the hostel before noon today. Once Issy, Lauren and I left the hostel, we explored all day. We walked across the White Bridget to the Castle Hill (perched high above Buda next to the Danube River, which weaves through Budapest – splitting the city into Buda and Pest.)
I explored Pest yesterday and Buda today. We saw the Matthias Church, which had this amazing tiled roof full of color and designs. The neo-Gothic church was impressive and attracked dozens if not hundreds of tourists today. We walked around Fishermen’s Bastion, which had arches that acted as a wonderful window to overlook the Danube, Pest and Parliament.
The Royal Palace was fun to walk around. I daydreamed about what it must be like to be Royal, among other things. Today was spent walking, sightseeing and daydreaming. It was a great day.
Once we couldn’t be bothered to look at one more beautiful old building, we made the trek back to Pest. We were pulled into one of the large pedestrian streets full of shops. After aquick stop in H&M, Issy was a new owner of a black belt, and I was sporting a new cozy white pom pom beanie. Proud of our purchases, we made our way to Leves, another wonderful food recommendation from Simon. Issy and I ordered Hungarian chicken soup with tarragon. I still don’t know what tarragon is, but I do know that the soup was absolutely delightful. Unfortunately there was no where to sit at Leves, so we enjoyed our soups back at our cozy hostel. I enjoyed my soup as Fredrick serended us with his guitar. Yes, this is my life. I eat Hungarian soup as a Belgium man serenades me with his guitar and sultry deep voice.