a trip out east: budapest round two

DSC_0089the entire bus ride back to budapest i spent mapping out my budapest game plan, so when the bus arrived at nepliget i hopped right off, onto the metro, and found my hostel in a wink. usually the hostels i stay in are more or less complete dives… so when i walked into this hostel my jaw dropped at just what i was getting for just 10 EU a night. the place was brand new, huge, had fluffy pillows, and the whitest bathroom i had ever seen! it was definitely a step up from the other places i’d stayed. the only downside was coming in late at night to find a bunch of annoying american study abroaders and their boyfriends causing a general ruckus in my room, and STEALING MY PILLOW. eh, you win some, ya lose some.

DSC_0076after finding my hostel i headed out into the city to do some sight seeing. guys… budapest is the most beautiful city. it is so old and quaint! i kept having to pinch myself and tell myself that i really was in eastern europe! at christmas time! definitely cool. the only bad thing was the fact that since i was only there for a day, i didn’t get to actually go inside a lot of the pretty places. parliament, basilicas with dead guys hands on displays, cathedrals… there just was not time, so i admired them from afar… and it wasn’t so bad doing that. the funny thing about all these world heritage sights however is that most of them were partly destroyed in world war two, so they’ve all just been rebuilt in old style. a little fascade-y, but neat nonetheless seeing as the us doesn’t even have anything old to even rebuild!

my first stop was castle hill. that huge beautiful building across the danube is parliament. i could have stared at it all day long…

DSC_0068DSC_0078DSC_0080when i travel i forget to eat. well, not so much i forget as that i don’t have any time to do so. i usually end up eating lunch at like 4 PM, which leads me to be hangry and a little erratic. awesome combo. however, as i was walking down from castle hill i stumbled right into this great vegan restaurant. without a second thought i walked right in, and guys! best decision in budapest! i got totoltt paprika, which is a common dish here in hungary, but instead of the peppers being stuffed with meat per status quo, they were filled with a mixture of walnuts and buckwheat and spices, then smothered with the sweetest, creamiest tomato saucy-soup i’d ever tasted. although the hungarian owner didn’t speak much english, he looked up the ingredients online for me, then wrote the name of the dish down so i could remember it. when i asked him if hungary had a lot of vegans, he just smiled and said, “i hope so!”. best meal ever and under about 4 euros. DSC_0106DSC_0102with a full belly i  hopped on the metro up to andrassy utca to go to the terror museum.basically after ww2 this was the headquarters of the nazis and the  communist police, where they would torture innocent hungarians, keep them prisoner, kill them… and then in then when it was all over all police basically got off scot-free. This means now they are still alive and living among the families of the people they’d tortured.  rick steves’ told me that this museum was really great, so i figured i had to go…. the only problem was that most of it was in hungarian, the museum was closing in an hour, and the only english explanations were written as full pages in a book format in each room. uf! i pretended i knew what was going on and called it good. it was mostly creepy overall.

hungary at night was FREEZING but then what do i expect in eastern europe in late november? i walked a little, then ducked into a cafe to get something warm to drink. coconut white hot chocolate fit the bill. guys, this was the most amazing drink of my life. i could have drank an entire gallon.

after thawing a bit i walked down to the basilica, where there was another christmas market going on. dance performances, christmas carols all in english, and an excess of furry hats made for some good wandering. also i bought some gloves made out of alpaca fur from a bolivian in hungary, and i mean how many people can say they’ve done that?

DSC_0111finally i made my way to the waterfront. AHHH it was the most gorgeous sight. i walked all over the banks of the danube to take all kinds of photos. this is that special chain bridge that budapest is famous for, and parliament at night.

DSC_0142DSC_0145did i mention that i was FREEZING? being cold and hungry (again) i went for my second round of vegetarian food at a place called the hummus bar. i don’t know if i was just really hungry or if my pita really was just delicious, but i was so sad when i finished scarfing it down.IMG_2345in the morning i woke up early to squeeze a little bit more out the of the city before my plane left. because i always gravitate toward the markets, i found myself at great hall market, a place that sells everything from paprika and sausage to hungarian barbies and embroidered tablecloths.

DSC_0183and langos. ohhhhhhh the langos. basically this typical hungarian delicacy is a piece of friend dough the size of a dinner plate caked in cinnamon honey sugar butter. yes. i looked like such a fool taking all kinds of pictures of it, but whatever. it was delicious.DSC_0176DSC_0158i walked along the river a little bit, then hopped on the 2 tram to rest my feet and see the sights along the danube by day. it was beautiful, but i would suggest going at night, as it probably even more amazing with all the lights. DSC_0199DSC_0211next stop, the airport! budapest has a remarkably pretty one, which is a nice change from the cramped quarters of madrid’s barajas. DSC_0213and that concluded my tour of the east. i loved every minute, and i can’t wait to go back someday. eastern europe has a charm that is different from most other countries i’ve had the pleasure to visit. frankly, most people don’t think of budapest as their first choice for vacation, but it definitely did not disappoint. that fact, coupled with the time of year made for great travels. danke, austria! konszonom, hungary!

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