Semana Santa for me this year and last have been the absolute best revenge on my own self for not having a disgustingly drunk and expensive Spring Break in college. Last year my travels through Italy left me in love and a little more curvy. This year a semi life long dream was achieved because I finally made it to Prague. I say semi life long since I’m not sure exactly when the dream started, but I know that I wanted to go discover and connect with my Czech roots. Turns out I also have some Austrian roots that shined through doing a waltz, but before I got to those places I wanted to see Budapest as it’s relatively near and also amazing.
Until this trip I had only traveled through Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Your standard European countries. Similar languages, culture, and currency. I was expecting a whole new feel from Eastern Europe and I’m sure they are super glad about their money right now. The languages are much more unrecognizable, with much less possibility of me successfully guessing how to pronounce a word like schezignksieuy…but I found that to be one of the most thrilling parts of setting off on the adventure.
The weather forecast: COLD. As expected in March/ April, but really it felt more like the cold of January. As you will see from the photos I had my giant North Face. The local cuisine was another excellent layer.
The first plan we made when discussing Budapest was going to a Spa. Budapest is actually a spa/ bath city and has many bath houses. On Easter weekend the spas were one of the few things open, but it was perfect since it was something we all really wanted to do. The spas can range from super cheap to expensive, sexy to gross, old to young, etc. etc. We decided to go with one of the bigger more famous spas since it was our one big chance to do that. It was an adrenaline rush to go out into ZERO degree weather in a bikini. I was becoming Hungarian. But when you plunge your body into the steamy water you just feel this incredible sense of insanity because you are looking at the cold night sky thinking about how earlier you were cold wearing a scarf and gloves, and now you are in a bikini and people around you are laughing, lounging, and running in and out of various temperatures of water. Once in a lifetime. Or hopefully more.
http://www.szechenyibath.com/ definite recommendation.
Much more of a tram culture
St. Stephen’s Basilica
The Hungarians are tough. I think they are very sweet people, soby tough I mean that they could go outside in zero degrees in a light jean jacket, chop down a tree with their bare hands, and somehow be eating dumplings at the same time. I was content in my giant winter coat, but needed to make a fair share of stops to get coffee, tea, and of course mulled wine to withstand the harsh wind. These winds actually knocked down a few displays at the market, but people reacted quickly, efficiently and never once shivered.
Budapest is actually Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. The Buda side is mainly residential from what I could tell and also the Buda castle area. This is confusing because there isn’t an actual castle but a whole palatial area. You don’t have to feel dumb if you go and ask where the castle is. Common mistake I’m sure.
Fisherman’s Bastian/ Castle area
Since our trip was more about seeing the sights until we could no longer walk from fatigue, going out wasn’t a number one priority; but certainly important to really feel more into the culture. We had to check out a bar that numerous friends had told us about called Szimpla. It is a “ruin pub” or a former home inhabited by Jewish people left in ruins and then turned into a bar. You can imagine how the decor would be super funky and cool, and it is really popular for the young Hungarians to go to pubs like this. You might think you see someone walking into an abandoned building, but it’s probably a hopping bar. My favorite moment was probably when a waitress came by with a bucket of carrots and asked if we were would like to buy one. The idea is that at a bar when you are typically putting so much trash (beer, liquor, pizza) into your body that you should balance it out with a carrot and be healthy. If I had a bar I’d like to think i’d have a crazy idea like that.
As you come to the end of this entry and have perhaps forgotten the title of it, let me bring your attention back to it. Underrated hotties. Eastern Europe for me brings to mind large, hairy and not super attractive men. I’m not sure why though. I’m sure they exist too just like in any country, but actually Budapest was non stop hot boy alert. It was an unfortunate time to be trapped under a hood and look like a floating black marshmallow, but at least I still got to look. It was such a nice change to see tons of normal sized/ tall people. Spain may bring to mind attractive people as well, but good luck finding more than a handful of Spaniards taller than me.
Budapest is also a city with a RICH history that I’m ashamed to say I knew very little about. I would highly recommend looking it up if you don’t already know some facts. We had an excellent free walking tour with some historical interludes and it made me feel that much more awesome about the trip.
Prague and Vienna are also historically interesting cities, full of tall people (my people), flowing with, beer, pastries, more hearty foods and of course waltzing.