Current City: Zagreb
I didn’t actually want to leave Budapest. I really didn’t. My original plan was to only stay two nights, which turned into four, and even then I had to finally pull the pin and leave. My hesitation had a bit to do with the city, but a lot to do with where I was staying and who I was with.
I did not think for a moment, upon arriving at the hostel Carpe Noctem Vitae, that it would become the highlight of my trip. Very much hidden away on the top floor of an old run-down building, with no sign, a piece of paper with a buzzer number taped to the door, and accessed by an old run-down elevator, it reaffirmed by belief that it’s the people that make a place what it is.
As I was riding the elevator up to the 5th floor, thinking to myself “what the hell have I gotten myself into..”, I was met at the door by Hawaii (yes, that’s what she was called. Guess where she was from), who was more than happy to show me around the hostel, introduce me to everyone, and help me get settled in. My first night involved a pub crawl, with ½-litre beers costing around 2 Euros, which was followed the next day by an incredibly lazy 4-hour soak in one of the many thermal baths around the city and a quiet movie-and-tea night with some of the lazier hostel guests. The heartier among us (mostly Auzzies) went out on another pub crawl.
The next day was a trip to the Ethnographic Museum, where they had a travelling exhibit of the winners of the National Photo Press competition; hundreds of amazing photos, (both touching and horrifying) from news stories from around the world. This preceded the five hour caving tour with Jack and Sarah (both Auzzies); if anyone dislikes small spaces, I would recommend against crawling through nearly a kilometre of caves, although I figured that would be obvious. We got back just in time to head out on the booze cruise up the Danube; a night of cheap beer, amazing sights, and raucous recitations of national anthems (well, maybe just Canadian and American anthems).
Having not seen much of the actual city, I felt the need to head out the following day and joined a walking tour around the city. I love the walking tours, and I especially love that they are a)free (you tip the guide at the end, but theres no obligation to pay), b)in English, and c)most often given by locals, who know the city better than anyone else.
So a great city, a fantastic hostel, a few crazy nights out, and a whole bunch of some of the funnest, coolest, most sociable people I have ever met. There are a couple of places I’ve left thinking I haven’t fully experienced, and Budapest is one of them.
On another note, are there any Australians between the ages of 19 and 26 left in Australia, or have they all left to go travelling? It seems like theres about a half of a generation missing from the country. I mean, I’ve been to Australia, and it’s really not a bad place! A little warm in the summer, but I’m sure they have AC…
|The World Photo Press exhibit|
|St. Ishtvan (St. Stephen) cathedral|
|Inside St. Stephen Cathedral|
|Chain Bridge over the river Danube|
|Pesht, looking from the castle on the Buda side of the river|
|Chillin' in the hostel|
|Dinnertime! Every evening you can get a home-cooked dinner for 500 Hungarian Forints (less than 2 Euros)|
|Caving underneath Budapest|
|Me crawling through the Winnie-The-Pooh hole. I was just barely able to make it through without getting stuck.|