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.
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.
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.”
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