Budapest (actually pronounced “Budapesht”) was not somewhere I knew much about and it was by no means one of my dream destinations, but that’s where I found myself this past weekend on a spur of the moment adventure with Alexis. Although the rainy cold weather was not the best welcoming present, we arrived at our hostel and found a late night burger joint for dinner which was a great welcoming present indeed. For less than 5 euros, I had the best burger and fries I have had in Europe yet. We took the night to explore along the Danube river when all the buildings and bridges were beautifully lit up, but we had no idea what the cool buildings were yet. After a little exploring our first night there, we decided to stay in and relax, and actually went to bed at the surprisingly early hour of 1:00 a.m.
The Chain Bridge connecting Buda and Pest
We got up the next day on a mission to try a breakfast spot next to our hostel before making it to a free walking tour. We even passed on the Starbucks on our corner because this place looked too good to pass up. We soon became regulars for the weekend.
If you ever have the chance to do a free walking tour, do it. For a whole bunch of knowledge and your own tour guide, the price is small (just a nice tip for their time). Our tour guide started near our hostel and went through the Jewish district, St. Stephen’s basilica, the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and Castle Hill.
We passed by this love lock fence on our way to the Jewish district – apparently, they thought that if too many locks were on bridges, they would weigh the bridge down, so they were cut off. People started putting them on fences. You’re supposed to put the lock on the fence etched with you and your significant others’ name. Then, you walk to the river to throw the key in so that your love lasts forever (the fence is fairly far from the river, so if you changed your mind along the walk, you could just pocket the key without being seen).
Alexis and I in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica
People rub this statue’s belly for good meals (we rubbed it and definitely had good meals the rest of the trip)
The view from Castle Hill
This seemingly innocent statue of a horse has been turned into something not so innocent by college students (of course). If you look beneath the horse, there is one shiny part (I’ll let you use your imagination). Legend has it that college students used to rub that part for good luck on exams – but then it evolved into the tradition of rubbing them for good luck in bed.
After a long day of walking, Alexis and I headed to Frici Papa, an authentic Hungarian restaurant recommended to us by our tour guide. We each had a salad, two glasses of wine, goulash, and dessert for less than $7 each (and it was amazing)!
Palacsinta (a Hungarian crepe with nutella and lots of sugar on top)
After a long eventful day, we had already fallen for Budapest, a hidden gem.