When in Budapest, Part 1

I first heard George Ezra’s song “Budapest” last fall and immediately took a liking to it. Maybe it was the steady strumming of the guitar that opened the song or Ezra’s slightly accented voice that put the Hungarian city of the same name in the back of my mind as a place to add to my bucket list. Budapest hadn’t crossed my mind as a potential travel destination, and I knew little to nothing about it. Thanks to the movie Charlie Countryman, the only thing I knew was that it was better to end up in Budapest than it was to end up in Bucharest.

When it came time to firm up plans for studying abroad in Prague, I knew I would be traveling to other countries besides the Czech Republic, but Hungary still didn’t rank high up in my mind. When a couple of friends asked if I wanted to travel with them to Budapest for a long weekend, I was reminded of Ezra’s song and thought that this could be “my hidden treasure chest” for a few days. The next thing I knew, I had booked an 8-hour overnight train ride to Hungary’s capital city, packed my bags, and headed to Prague’s main train station, Hlavní nádraží.

On the train to Budapest
On the train to Budapest

Eight hours later at 8:35am on a Friday morning, I stood up and peered out the train window with tired eyes at the Budapest-Keleti train station ready for a packed weekend of sight-seeing. I couldn’t believe I was in Hungary. My friend and I hailed a taxi and headed to The Groove Hostel on the “Pest” side of the city to meet two more friends from our study abroad program. We were met by a friendly and accommodating staff in a building that can only be described as a hipster hangout.

The "living room" of the Groove Hostel.
The “living room” of the Groove Hostel.
Up the ladder is the "Barefoot Loft," a small space with bean bag chairs and a tv. The only condition for going up there? Your shoes must be off.
Up the ladder is the “Barefoot Loft,” a small space with bean bag chairs and a tv. The only condition for going up there? Your shoes must be off.
The view from the 2nd floor of the building that houses The Groove Hostel reminded me of "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
The view from the 2nd floor of the building that houses The Groove Hostel reminded me of “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

After freshening up, we headed to breakfast and then to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, something I was told I must experience while in the city. After the baths, we toured the “Buda” side until late evening. Although I only slept for a few hours the night before because of a cramped train ride, the beauty of Budapest made me all but forget about my sleep deprivation. Below are some of my favorite photos of our first day in Budapest, a city where pictures don’t do it justice in the slightest. I had found “my hidden treasure chest.”

Located on the "Pest" side of the city, the Szechenyi Thermal Bath was the perfect afternoon activity.
Located on the “Pest” side of the city, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath was the perfect afternoon activity.
Headed to an outdoor market after the baths and was mesmerized by the many types of food being sold.
Headed to an outdoor market after the baths and was mesmerized by the many types of food being sold.
Taking in the view from the Chain Bridge as we walked across to explore the "Buda" side of the city.
Taking in the view from the Chain Bridge as we walked across to explore the “Buda” side of the city.
My friend and I sitting in front of the monuments in Heroes' Square, located close to the baths.
My friend and I sitting in front of the monuments in Heroes’ Square, located close to the baths.
Sitting on the ledge of Fisherman's Bastion on the "Buda" side of the city. Beautiful view of the Danube River.
Sitting on the ledge of Fisherman’s Bastion on the “Buda” side of the city. Beautiful view of the Danube River.
Standing with a friend at the baths. The overnight train ride was worth it.
Standing with a friend at the baths. The overnight train ride was worth it.

After a full day of exploring, I had the best night’s sleep in the hostel. I woke up in the morning rested and ready to explore Pest, and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. -Morgan

2 thoughts on “When in Budapest, Part 1

  1. Glad you enjoyed Budapest! It really is a wonderful and vibrant city. Crazy that many people overlook it or haven’t even heard of it in the first place. But hey, that keeps it cheap, so maybe I’m okay with that!

    How do you like Budapest compared to Prague?I feel like most people make a decision between the two when thinking about traveling to “Eastern Europe”.

    I am going to Prague at the end of March so I am interested if it is as similar as people think. Obviously the capitals aren’t that close to each other. I took a train to Dresden actually that runs through Prague and I know how long it is!

    Well, have fun during your studies in Prague! 🙂

    1. I loved Budapest, and it was definitely similar to Prague! The architecture was just as beautiful, and the cities share similar river views as well. I found myself saying that I was going “home” to Prague, however.

      Have you been to Prague before? I hope you enjoy your trip! I’ve only been here 3 weeks, and I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

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