Budapest Round 2

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Little did I know, I would be heading to Budapest within a month again! The rest of them wanted to check it out, so I was basically their tour guide this time. We stayed at All-4U again, but I later realized that they actually own a bunch of different apartments. For this trip, we stayed at a different apartment which was only a few minutes walk away. This one was huge! It could fit 6 people comfortably on the beds. 2 queen sizes and 2 twins. A kitchen, enormous bathroom, and just tons of space everywhere to walk around or even dance. Highly recommend the apartments from All-4U. For this post, I’m not going to go into the details of some of the places I already visited on the past trip. I’ll focus more on some new activities we did, and you are welcome to read about my previous visit here: 1/2 Day Trip in Budapest

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Once we settled down, K, E, and I went to Budapest Ice Rink at the City Park. It’s the largest outdoor skating rink in Europe! In the summer, it’s a lake, but is transformed into a skate rink for the winter. Admission for skating is HUF1200 on weekdays and HUF1400 on weekends, allowing you a full of skating. However, skate rentals are charged by hour, so unless you brought your skates over, you’re likely to need to purchase these. We skated for an hour and had plenty of fun. People here are also pretty good skaters, so you won’t be finding those pulley chairs around to learn how to skate. Your admission also includes use of lockers, and they have a really cool tech system for the lockers. No keys, just a tap of your card and your locker will open. Pretty cool!

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You’ll find the iconic Budapest signage on the rink as well as some hot food and drinks on the side of the rink. In the back, you will see the Vajdahunyad Castle, so you get some pretty impressive scenery while you skate.

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The next day, we went to Matthias Church, and you could really see the details in the daylight. The previous time I went, it was dark, so difficult to see architecture details. However, I find it much more beautiful at night, since it gives you that castle-like feel.

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Early evening, E, K and I went to the Szechenyi Medicinal Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in Europe! It’s found just inside the City Park, and is a unisex bath. You wear swimsuits here, so it’s not like the ones in Japan. They also have really cool technology again, with wristbands that give you access to your lockers, and you can even check which locker number you used by beeping it on a machine. It’s also waterproof! Anyways, there are a variety of indoor pools with varying temperatures. Apparently, you’re supposed to go into a cold bath, then jump into the warmer ones. Yea, I dipped my legs in the cold one and already came back out… Too cold!

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The interior design is really cool though! It has a Neo-baroque style and was built back in 1881 when it was an Artesian Bath. There are around 12 indoor thermal baths, with 3 outdoor ones. One of the outdoor pools is actually a swimming pool and requires swimming caps.

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This is the outdoor thermal pool, which we spent most of our time at. It was so relaxing. It’s like freezing cold outside (probably at 0 degrees) and we’re in a bath at around 32 degrees. That cold and hot feeling is so good! Even when you have half your body up, you don’t feel cold. You’ll find men playing chess on the side, which we found funny, but also many other tourists who have found their way here. The beautiful yellow building makes you feel like a royalty here. Also, one of the pools has a spinning tidal pressure concept, which pushes you around in a circle. It’s pretty fun! There are also many massaging beams around the sides as well as sculptures spitting out water. Super cool!

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For food, we didn’t eat much at restaurants, since there were so many Christmas markets with food around. We pretty much stuffed ourselves full from that. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of those. It was freezing cold and I just wanted to eat! One of our last nights, we ate in the tourist area of Vorosmarty Square. The reatuarant was called Planet Cafe and I advise everyone to STAY AWAY. 100% tourist trap. I only have this picture of Goulash, but it is much smaller than what the menu showed. Okay, fine.Β  A lot of places do this type of false advertising. But what happened was immediately after we placed our orders, I peeked into the kitchen and saw three microwaves spinning. They were reheating our food. Also, we ordered a Steak dish, which on the menu showed fries. When our bill came, we saw they had added another HUF400 and we were told they were for the fries. We never even asked for them! Seriously? Okay, that’s fine too since it wasn’t a lot. The other issue was the 15% service charge automatically added on when we had no service. This place is just a complete scam. The food wasn’t inedible, but they were just microwaved and we just felt completely scammed. Avoid at all cost!

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Half Day Trip in Budapest

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From Vienna, we took a bus to Budapest. Since Student Agency doesn’t have routes to Budapest, we took Orangeways, another cheap alternative. Orangeways was definitely not as good as Student Agency. The bus was much older and didn’t have any amenities. It only took around 3 hours, so it wasn’t bad at all and we just took a nap. We took the noon bus since the earlier one was all booked up. We definitely booked it too last minute. Our bus ended up only having less than 10 people, so we were able to have two seats each. Another tip is that the Orangeways bus stop is extremely difficult to find! We almost missed our bus even though we were half an hour early. You need to walk behind this building at Olympiaplatz to see the bus there… Anyways, by the time we got to Budapest, it was almost 4 pm. We quickly went to our accommodation to drop off our backpacks. We basically didn’t even have half a day to tour around this city! This time, we stayed at an apartment! Super cool and I wish we had stayed here for a few more nights. I had found it on Booking.com and it’s called All-4U Apartments. Basically, this company has a few apartments, and they rent them out for travelers, even if it’s just for one night. Our apartment could sleep 4 or even 5 really, and was only 49 euros in total! Pretty good deal for how clean and comfortable the place was! It was also located extremely close to the metro that had two lines running.

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They even had a bedroom! The other two beds were outside in the living room. It included a kitchen as well. If only we stayed longer, then we could cook our own food. Super spacious and clean! I highly recommend these apartments!

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The bathroom was huge! And it even included a washing machine! I swear this place was better than my Barcelona flat…

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We quickly mapped out where to hit in the time we had left and headed out. We took a metro to theΒ  We took the metro to the Hungarian Parliament Building, but sadly wasted so much time here. They were having construction, and you basically couldn’t walk to the front of the building. It was dark and a lot of other tourists seemed to be finding a way to the front too. They should’ve put some sort of signs so tourists could figure out what was going on! It was so frustrating and we were cold and tired. Finally, we looked on our maps, and decided to go across the Danube River to see the Parliament from the other side. We took a metro again, thanks to our all day pass. The building is beautiful at night when the light reflects onto the water. A must see at night!

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From there, we walked and walked and walked along the Danube… We then took a right turn and began our walk up towards the Castle District or Castle Hill. We were determined to find the Castle! There are trams all along the way, but we hadn’t done any research, so we walked instead. It’s actually not that bad and you end up seeing a lot of interesting churches along the way. Anyways, we finally saw this humongous looking castle. Funny enough, we had found Matthias Church, and not the castle. Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church and actually the second largest church of medieval Buda! I swear it felt like a castle more. It was spectacular with the faint yellow lights shining on it. When you get to the top, you have amazing viewpoints of the other side (Pest) and the Chain Bridge. Truly amazing. The details on the roof are also beautiful!

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While walking further to see the Buda Castle, we get a beautiful veiw of the Chain Bridge at night. Budapest is voted as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and I can’t agree more. I think it’s most beautiful at night when the lights hit the water and reflects. It’s also got so many medieval looking buildings and castles which makes the city look like those in fairytales. The Danube River, pictured here, flows through a bunch of countries and is the second longest river on the continent! What’s cool is that because of the unification of Buda and Pest, Budapest is the only city that has both the west and east side of the Danube River.

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Then we finally reached the Buda Castle. It dates back to 1265!Β  This was where the Hungarian Kings of Budapest stayed. We actually though Matthias Church looked more impressive than the castle! Nevertheless, it was beautiful at night and also had many spots for picture worthy scenes. If you don’t want to walk back down, then you can take the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular which ends at the Adam Clark Square where the Chain Bridge is. Remember that the Castle is high up on a hill! Since the funicular was closed, we hiked back down, which wasn’t too bad since they had paved a pathway for people to walk down.

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We reached the opening of the Szechenyi Chain Bridge on the Buda side, and were determined to walk back to Pest. This famous suspension bridge links you between the east and west and is the oldest permanent bridge on the Danube. The walk actually isn’t that long and took maybe 10 minutes.

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We got pretty hungry by now and we decided to check out the Christmas Market! The best part of traveling in Europe during December is the opportunity to visit the different Christmas markets! The biggest market is at Vorosmarty ter or better known as Vorosmarty Square. It’s the public square in the Budapest city center, which is filled with shops and cafes. It transformed into a lively market, with tons of food and crafts. Again, there were those sweet hollow pastries! Trdelnik is the name in Czech, but in Hungary, they’re called Kurtoskalacs. So good and a must try! I think it was also cheaper here!

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After a round of the Christmas market, we headed for dinner. I had searched up a restaurant on Tripadvisor. It was a little out of the way, but we eventually found our way. Kiskakukk Etterem was a fancy little place that served traditional Hungarian food. The area around the restaurant was rather quiet and Budapest gets dark really quickly! Even though there are lots of lights, the city is pretty dim overall for some reason.

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The inside is pretty fancy looking, and the waiters are all in formal wear. There wasn’t language barriers at all, although our server seemed sort of shy for some reason. It seems like a place to bring your date on, now that I think about it!

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Tenderloin stuffed with bolete mushroom cream served with goose liver in Cabernet sauce,grilled vegetables and Mediterranean potatoes

Here was what I got for my entree! I ended up spoiling myself, and I think this was one of the priciest on the menu, but hold on. It was only CAD$20… Like where do we get tenderloin with goose liver on top for $20? The cost of food is definitely much cheaper in Budapest. While we’re at, I should mention that in Budapest, they use Hungarian Florints, so my entree was 4390 ft, which is around 14 euros. But anyways, back to food. It was so good! The tenderloing was stuffed with a mushroom cream sauce and it also came with a Cabernet red wine sauce – a perfect pairing for the tenderloin. The best part was the goose liver on top. It was crispy on the outside and the inside just melted in your mouth. So good! Even the vegetables were grilled and seasoned well. I had no complaints! Paired it with the House White Wine, although I should’ve really paired it with a red… The wine was also only around CAD$2… Cheaper than ordering a bottle of water in Canada.

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After dinner, we continued our adventure. We would normally be home by now, but we had to make the most of it. We made sure the metro would still run, and off we went to Heroes Square or “Hosok Tere”. It’s near the City Park, and is surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Art. In the center of the square is the Millennium Memorial or Monoument, which has statues of the leaders that founded Hungary. Budapest actually sort of reminded me of North America, just because it had so much open space, like here. The other cities I had visited in Europe were mostly bunched up streets and buildings, so it was nice to have so much space again!

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We then made our way to the City Park, where we found the Varosligeti Mujegpalya or the City Park Ice Rink. Behind it lies the Vajdahunyad Castle. The ice rink opened in 1870 and is the largest outdoor ice rink in Europe. In summer, it’s actually a pond, so it was pretty cool to see an outdoor ice rink!

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Then we made our way to the Vajdahunyad Castle, which was just behind the rink. It’s actually relatively new, being built between 1896 and 1908. It was built for the Millenial Exhibition and is now the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture. At night, it looked eerie and almost like those kingdoms you see in movies with dragons…

And the next morning, we were up at 5 am, took a taxi to the airport, and off we went back to Barcelona. Little did I know that I would be back in just a few weeks… πŸ™‚