One Last Day in Budapest: Adventure Day 12

Well I’ve reached the end of the road, and so has this series of blog posts. It was quite the adventure, but like all good things it had to come to an end.

I began my morning in Budapest with some breakfast at my hotel. The breakfast room had a beautiful view of the Parliament Building, which was amazing.


After breakfast, it was time for the one thing in Budapest I’d actually booked. A ticket to one of the Turkish Baths.

For any who aren’t aware, Budapest has natural thermal waters and as a result the city has multiple baths and spas that allow you to enjoy these hot springs.

The last time I was in Budapest I went to Szechenyi Baths which was amazing, but I’d also seen some pictures of the Gellert Baths, and decided with a second trip it would be fun to try those as well and compare.

So with my booking in hand I packed a day bag with a swimsuit, some water, flip flops, etc. and headed off to walk to the Gellert Spa.


I arrived and headed in to check in at the front desk. I received my wristband which would get me into the entrance and then connect to my cabin to allow me to get in and out. Cabins were only slightly more than a locker, so I definitely wanted that for the comfort of changing and storing my things.

And then I headed off to experience the baths in all their glory.

I’ll let my pictures do most of the talking. The beautiful historic decorations were very enjoyable, and the water felt amazing. I took a few photos before locking my phone back away, and just carrying my rented towel and a bottle of water around (important to stay hydrated in the heat).

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I spent maybe two or three hours enjoying the various pools, and the multiple saunas and steam rooms. Due to it being March, the outdoor wave pool was closed, but the small heated outdoor one was open at least. I also didn’t know the large swimming pool (the one with all the columns) required a cap to be in it, so I wasn’t able to experience that. But otherwise I enjoyed the whole place and made the most of my time there.

All in all I’d have to say if you want to pick one Spa, Szechenyi is probably a little better. They have more pools, and their outdoor area is incredible, and I believe open year round. However, Gellert is still beautiful and definitely is a good experience. Without anything to compare it to, I’d say it’s pretty amazing in its own right.

I turned my towel back in and headed out. I enjoyed the beautiful entrance area and took a few pictures before heading off.


It was getting a little bit stormy, unfortunately, so I headed across the river to the Great Market Hall. It’s an indoor market selling a large variety of different foods, produce, and goods.

I wandered a bit, glad to be out of the rain. After some window shopping, I headed to the basement of the market where there was a grocery store. The food stalls were all pretty crowded, so I opted to just pick up some grocery store pastries and a drink. By the time I came out, the bad weather had mostly passed so I sat in a nearby square and ate.

After that I headed off to explore the castle district. I started by wandering the Fisherman’s Bastion, which was free. I thought about going into Matthias Church, but it was getting close to closing time by the time I got up there, so I opted to skip it, and decided to head over to the Budapest History Museum in Buda Castle.


The museum was decent. Not anything extraordinary, but fun and a good way to spend some time.

After I was done there I walked back around the castle, enjoying the views as the sun set.


With the sun going down, I decided it was time to get some food. It was still pretty early, but being a Friday night, I figured getting there a little early couldn’t hurt. On top of that I had a 6:30 AM flight to catch the next morning, so I headed off to find food.

I ended up at a place called Kacsa Restaurant. I was the first one there, and also felt pretty under-dressed. But I went for it anyways since the reviews of the food were good.

My first course was a pastry with duck in it. It was amazing! Second course was a stuffed cabbage, which maybe wasn’t exactly my normal type of dish, but was something that sounded traditional and different. And then finished off with another traditional dessert. They also had live music with a violinist and pianist playing. It was a great way to end my trip.

I grabbed a tram back to bottom of the big hill my hotel was on and then caught a bus up to the top. From there it was just packing up and getting ready for another big day of travel.

I thankfully got back to the States with no problem, even with the travel restrictions in place. The good thing about it was the planes were relatively empty so I had lots of space to spread out. And after a full day of flying I arrived safely at home sweet home.

The timing of my trip really was pretty incredible. Less than a week after I was back, things pretty much completely locked down. I’m so glad I was able to experience the beauty of such amazing places as Croatia, Slovenia, and Budapest. It was a really incredible vacation.

With all this time on my hands with the quarantine I might write about some older trips on here as well. Please feel free to subscribe, comment, like, etc. And hopefully there will be more adventures to share with you in the future.

Off to Budapest: Adventure Day 11

So if you read my last post, you’ll know I had some changes to my travel plans, meaning most of my time in Zagreb was lost. However, all that meant was I was getting on the road earlier, ready to head off to my next destination: Budapest.

I’d actually been there before, but I found decent tickets flying home and honestly loved my time there before. I also felt like, the last time I was there, I was overwhelmed and didn’t get to see as much as I wanted. So, I was determined to go there a second time. To read about my first adventure in Budapest see this post. 

I took off early from Zagreb. I had to miss breakfast at my hostel, but I figured early was better than late, especially since the borders had been so congested the day before.

On the bus it was mostly the same old thing. Enjoying views of the Croatian countryside and listening to audiobooks. Until we arrived at the Hungarian border,

Thankfully, there were hardly any other people there, so I was hoping we might get through faster.

However, this time they collected our passports to take them to be scanned, then handed them back one by one and as we went to get on the bus they took our temperature. Nothing like a spontaneous temperature check to get you sweating.

Thankfully, I wasn’t running a fever (and as I’m writing this nearly a month after can confirm I didn’t have Covid 19). So I was allowed to enter the bus and take my seat again. Only one person was held back, but I guess they double checked his temperature and it was fine so he was eventually allowed to take his seat.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, and soon I was pulling into to the bus station in Budapest. From there it was just a quick tram ride and then a long climb up a hill to my hotel, mostly ending up taking stairs since I neglected to properly read directions.

I was staying at a bed and breakfast called Budavar Pension, right next to Fisherman’s Bastion, a famous landmark on the hill. I thought it would be fun to stay on the Buda side of the river since my first time I’d stayed on the Pest side (for those who don’t know they were originally two separate towns on opposite sides of the Danube).

After checking in at my hotel and dropping my luggage, I opted to head to the Hungarian parliament building and see if I could get a tour. I booked quickly online to ensure my spot before heading in that direction. On my walk over, I enjoyed some of the views of the Danube and the bridges there and then meandered towards the parliament building, enjoying the sunshine.

For any who love beautiful architecture, I highly recommend seeing this amazing building. It’s huge and ornate, and the tour was very fun.

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After that I wandered over to Margaret Island, a park in the middle of the Danube. It was very busy, but still a fun excursion.

Then it was back to the hotel to clean up for dinner. I especially enjoyed the view from my window as the lights of the Fisherman’s Bastion turned on.


I decided to go to Paris Budapest, a French Hungarian fusion restaurant. It sounded different and wasn’t too far of a walk from my hotel, just down the large hill and right across the river.

The lighting was a little strange, so apologies for the not so great pictures, but nonetheless here is what I can tell you about my meal. I started off with a beet soup, supposedly using local and seasonal products. I love beets, so I enjoyed it pretty well. For my second course I had the duck, which is another of my favorite foods I don’t get much in the United States. And to finish off I had some kind of a caramel nut dessert. I had asked for a different one but the waiter talked me out of it. Regardless the meal was delicious and I enjoyed it.

Finished with my meal, I took back off for my hotel. I walked up the large hill and stopped at the Fisherman’s Bastion to enjoy the view of the city. And then it was off to my hotel to get a good night’s sleep. I had one more day left in Europe and was determined to enjoy it.

Relax and be Spontaneous – Budapest

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I’d heard marvelous things about Budapest.

It sounded like some kind of magical land. Something out of a fairy tale. A place of adventure and wonder like nothing I’d quite seen before. Something exotic and new.

Okay, perhaps that’s going a bit far. However, I’m not denying I was really looking forward to traveling there. The only thing was, I did very little research about what to actually do.

So I arrived there midday. It was early, but I figured maybe my hostel could at least keep my bags. Or maybe I could check in early. A lot of places will at least check if your room is ready.


Yet another train station selfie!

I had to withdraw money first. As in the Czech Republic, I had no idea how much to take out being a completely foreign currency. So I started with a ridiculously small amount. Basically enough for my metro ticket. I’d say doing some research on currency might save you money, but oh well. Things I’ve learned for next time.

I arrived at my hostel, the Avenue Hostel, and they were not so helpful. I had to wait to check in and they wouldn’t take my bags. There was a huge crowd of people already waiting. I looked at the time. I’d hoped to catch a walking tour to orient myself on the city for the first day. It started at two thirty. My check-in wasn’t until two.

So I sat in the lobby and waited, feeling antsy and unable to really focus on much. By the time two rolled around, I should have realized… the crowds were growing and other people were clearly getting pretty eager to get going too. So as two o’clock hit there was a rush for the desk and the two people who could check in.

For some reason the process seemed longer than most of my other hostels. Perhaps that was simply a result of having a deadline of when I needed to be out, or because there were so many people, but they just seemed to take a good ten minutes a person on check in! I kept pulling out my phone and checking the time. Figured even if I was late I could possibly still see a big group in the area and join in. Most free tours don’t care if you come a little late or leave a little early.

So finally I got up to check-in for myself. Again, every bit of the process seemed to take forever. They told me if I paid cash I could try rolling their dice to see if I didn’t have to pay. Which is kind of cool…but I wasn’t sure I had enough money on hand anyhow, and the dice game would only prolong things. So I declined.

Then one of the workers showed me up to my room. The place was in a sort of apartment complex, so it wasn’t always easy to tell where your room was. So nice of them to show me, but still continued to take more time.

Shoved my things in my locker and ran out the door. It was pretty much 2:30, but I figured that they might not leave right on time and that a big group of walking tour people might be easy to spot near to the starting point.

So I set off on the subway, disembarking at the next stop over and running out to try to find the place. It said it was near the lion fountain. But I again saw no signs of a lion fountain. Hmm. Strange.

I wandered around, and I spotted a large group! I ran over, but I didn’t really hear any one person talking like they were giving a tour. Sure enough, I asked one of the girls standing there and she said she was waiting for the house of terror. I thanked her and bolted off.

After fifteen minutes I realized I wasn’t going to find them.

I sat down on a bench and pulled out my map.

And I realized that the name of the square, was the same name of the street I was currently on. And I’d gotten off at the wrong stop because I’d seen the name and assumed it was the same place. And it wasn’t.

So I sighed and headed back to my hostel. I had some tea and charged my phone and texted my mother in despair over having an afternoon in Budapest and no idea what to do with it.

After finally dealing with my self-pity, I did resolve that I had to see something before night came.

So I took the subway down to the river and then walked for a bit until I came to one of the indoor markets. It was starting to shut down, but I enjoyed getting to see some of it anyhow.

Then I walked over to the other side of the river, the Pest side and randomly decided I was going to walk up to the citadel.

Best decision I’d made of the day.

The views were breathtaking. But best of all, the sun was setting so the city looked even more gorgeous than before.


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To any heading to Budapest, this is an easy and fun thing to do. I highly recommend it.

After that I had the fun of getting to walk down in the dark. Not very good lighting apparently, which was a wee bit scary as a woman by myself, but there were other people walking around me so that was reassuring. I’m definitely writing a post on this issue, so you’ll get more details on it later.

I was starting to feel hungry, so I caught the subway back to the area of my hostel. I’d had a recommendation to try Langos Papas, which was nearby and had very cheap traditional Hungarian food, plus I had a voucher from my hostel for a free shot of Palinka, which is a fruit brandy. Spirits are traditional in places like Hungary, so I figured it was worth a shot. Yes that was a pun.

Regardless, I had a goulash for my starter, deer stew with langos for my main course, and then a dessert that I’m still not quite sure what it was… but I did google and found something called begli that looks quite similar. I guess it is a pastry filled with either poppy seeds or walnuts? I preferred the walnut one.

Overall the food was good, and it was quite cheap. Paired it with a beer and then the shot of Palinka which was not too bad either.

After that it was back to my hostel for the night. I had fun chatting with some fellow Americans and weirdly enough four Canadians who had all been on my tour in Bratislava.

I didn’t sleep great unfortunately, which certainly didn’t help with the exhaustion that was beginning to set in after having been to so many places. Unfortunately, the hostel had a large window on one of the walls into the hallway, which did nothing to keep out noises of guests coming back late into the night and let a significant amount of light into the room as well. Not sure what idiot designed that, but very foolish overall. Another reason I wouldn’t recommend this hostel. It’s not a horrible place, but it definitely has some issues. And for the price I think there might be places that are better.

So day two in Budapest.

Now, I’d talked with some people earlier in my trip about the city. And the one thing they highly recommended… was going to the thermal baths.

And I was excited by the prospect! It sounded like an amazing experience, and one of my friends had already told me that maybe I should take it easy and relax a little.

Only problem was…I’d forgotten to bring a bathing suit.

Well not forgotten. Just hadn’t anticipated needing one. To be honest, at all other times during the trip I was either in clothes or pajamas, so really it wasn’t something I would have used excessively.

So the question was what to do? I wanted to go to the baths. I didn’t have the necessary equipment with me other than my flipflops and a towel.

The easy answer was to go buy one. So I did set out for a nearby H & M to see if they might have something. Unfortunately, the store didn’t open until ten. And I wanted an early start at the baths, so that made it a no go.

The second easy answer was one I didn’t particularly like but would nonetheless just have to deal with if I wanted to experience. Swimsuit rental.

A lot of people are maybe hesitant on that. I mean, it sounds a little unhygienic. And weird. However, I’ll just go ahead and say for any fellow forgetful/didn’t think of visiting the baths people in Budapest who can’t or don’t want to buy a suit…this is an easy way to do it.

So the first question you should ask is which bath to visit. There are quite a few in Budapest with the natural and abundant hot springs. However, the most popular are usually the Szechenyi or the Gellert. I was a bit torn, but Szechenyi had better reviews on tripadvisor, lower prices, and was easier to access from my hostel… so it came down to deciding that might be the better one for me.

I headed over and bought my ticket. As I’d suspected, rentals are done inside the spa, so once through the gate I put in the money for my bathing suit rental, part of which I would get back on return. The man looked a bit dubious on my size I told him… I know I’m not a skinny little European thing, but I did look up size conversion and was pretty sure I had it right. However, down in the locker rooms it became apparent it was maybe a little bit small…but I figured it would stretch in the water anyways so no big deal.

And then off to the baths themselves.

I cannot put into words what an amazing experience this was for me. The baths were incredible. Multiple pools all at different temperatures, saunas, and steam rooms as well. Outside there were two very warm pools running, both of which felt amazing in the cool fall air. I sat and enjoyed and relaxed for a bit. Let the stress and tiredness from traveling slowly fade away. Some of the most fun was actually dunking in the colder pools and then hopping back into the warmer ones or going to relax in the saunas.


After two hours (I honestly don’t even remember how much time I spent there, but that sounds about right) I managed to drag myself out. It was very difficult to do, but I felt like I’d had the experience I wanted. I’m not really a massage person, but for anyone looking for that kind of thing I’m sure you can spend more time at the baths for other things like that. Overall I felt like two hours was sufficient and probably enough to experience the baths for the most part.

I dressed and headed off to my hostel again where I grabbed a grocery store lunch before setting back out. I had a few other things in mind I wanted to do like seeing the Parliament, the bunker museum, and some other fun sites. However, I felt like with my limited time a walking tour might be just the thing to help me see some of the major points of the city.

I headed off to meet up with the free walking tour I’d missed the day before. Honestly, I’m just going to have to say it was a disappointment to me.

The tour was very slow paced. In Bratislava I understood why a guide might need to fill some time with discussions of traditions or food or language. But in a big city like Budapest, it seemed strange that so much time was dedicated to those things when there were plenty of sights to see.

I did have to cut out halfway through, so I admit I didn’t see it to the end, but again the pacing just seemed off to me anyways, so it was probably for the best. Besides, I had something else I wanted to do.

See I had to get to my boat tour!

Impulsively I had decided that it might be fun to take a cheap one hour boat tour. Actually all things considered it wasn’t bad value. For an 8 euro student price I had a glass of wine, an audioguide in English, and of course beautiful river views right at sunset (because I know how to plan these things). Utterly perfect. I enjoyed a relaxing, although quite cold ride.


The one good thing I did find out from my walking tour was two restaurant recommendations. So after I was off the boat, I set off to try one of those for dinner.

I tried a place called Koleves. I thought the food was delicious and really enjoyed my time there. Cute atmosphere! Definitely would recommend trying it. And there was a restaurant dog! Who can pass up on that.



Afterwards I headed back to my hostel. I was feeling pretty worn out and ready for bed. I grabbed my laundry at reception, since they wouldn’t let you do it for yourself (still don’t understand that…) and found they’d lost my towel, but they insisted they hadn’t. Lovely fun there. That’s the joy of traveling I suppose.

I wish I’d had more time in this city. It was amazing and beautiful and I will have to go back another time! The best thing for me was being impulsive in Budapest. Deciding to do things on a whim and experiencing new things. I’ll never regret what I was able to see and do while I was here, and it continues to remind me that spontaneity can be a wonderful thing.