Ah Budapest! My favorite city of all time. (Besides San Diego) Unfortunately, we spent the least amount of time in Budapest so I’m very eager to return and explore even more. We took a seven-hour bus ride from Krakow to Budapest during the day so we got see the countryside of Poland, Slovenia and Hungary. The Lux Express bus was actually quite comfortable with tv screens in the headrests so I was able to watch Gilmore Girls the whole time. That’s a win in my book! Plus, we took up the whole back row so I had three empty seats next to me to spread out and so did Erick. I was easy to relax and just enjoy the ride. One thing that did bother me was the timing of our stop to get food. I don’t know why the driver took so long to stop. I was starving by the time we stopped at a gas station and there’s not much to choose from at a gas station. Other than that I would totally ride the Lux Express again.
We took the metro lines from the bus stop into the city, and thankfully Erick used to live in Budapest so I didn’t have to figure out another metro system in a language I didn’t know two bits about. Since we got in late in the evening, we really just wanted to eat some dinner and go to bed early. Being the Americans that we are, we thought Hooters would be funny to go to and we were so hungry that wings and beer sounded awesome after a long day on a bus. We walked over to the nearest Hooters which looked pretty good. We sat down and immediately ordered beer and mojito. I was also ready to order fried pickles and wings. Let’s get the ball rolling! I was salivating looking at the menu. Well, the fake blonde, big-chested Hungarian Hooters girl let us know they were completely out of beer, all of but two wing sauces and all food would take at least 30-40 minutes to come out. We were shocked as it was only 8pm on a Friday night, not closing time. Who ate all the food and drank all the beer!? We soon found out as the huge group of bachelor party dudes came stumbling out of the building. It was funny until it wasn’t, an hour later and we were still waiting. Needless to say, we weren’t impressed and decided to have local Hungarian food the next day.
Saturday was thermal bath day! Budapest sits on a huge natural thermal springs that supplies the city with this amazing healing luxury. As a massage therapist, health and wellness enthusiast and pure water lover, I couldn’t wait to try this out. We put our swimsuits on, had lunch at the restaurant next door to our hotel and then head to metro. When we came up from the stop to ground level and I saw the grand building of the thermal bath, I was pleasantly surprised at its beauty. I love the architecture and the funny sculptures and statues. You pay your fee and get this little watch thing that is your key to your locker in the locker room. The place has locker rooms and cabins you can rent if you want to get a service like a facial or massage after you’re done with the baths. I just got the locker room option although I would have loved to spend all of my money on spa services for the rest of the day. The outdoor area is huge with two swimming pools, a lap pool and whirlpool that’s fun for a little spin. Inside, there are even more lap pools, jacuzzis, steam showers and changing areas. It was so relaxing to be in 70 degree weather with 98-110 degree water. The breeze made it a little chilly if you were out of the water but if you just stayed in it was wonderful. After a while, we had enough and took the rest of the afternoon to explore the park and bridge areas. Such a beautiful day!
That night, we went out to see the Parliament at night, which is up there with the Eiffel Tower. It was stunning. I don’t use the word “stunning” too often but that’s what comes to mind. It was quite beautiful and romantic. We then walked across the Chain Bridge, another sparkling beauty. We spent the rest of the evening checking out the nightlife of Budapest. Some streets felt like Rainey Street in Austin with the young hipsters running about but this seemed more chill and more exciting at the same time. It’s hard to describe why I loved the energy so much. Maybe it was because I knew it was my last night of my European adventure and I was trying to soak it all up. Either way, I fell in love with Budapest. And the next day solidified it even more for me. The weather was gorgeous, everything seemed right. We ate breakfast at a small boutique hotel and met some people from Guadalajara, Mexico which was lovely. We then set out to go up to the Citadel. We walked through the beautiful old buildings, took pictures and I tried to stop time, knowing I was only hours from boarding my plane back to Paris.
When we got back to the hotel, where I would catch the shuttle bus back to the airport, I started feeling all my emotions rising up again. I begged myself not to cry. How could these two weeks be over? How am I supposed to say goodbye? I changed clothes, cleaned up my tears and faced the reality of this vacation coming to an end. I said a tearful goodbye to Erick and watched him walk down the street and down the stairs into the metro stop. I missed him already.
I feel bad for the poor guys who happened to ride the airport shuttle with me as it was pretty obvious, even under my big, dark sunglasses, that I was wiping more tears away and sniffling. By the time I was getting on my EasyJet flight, the sore throat and stuffy nose I was ignoring since Friday couldn’t be ignored any longer and decided to not play nice anymore. When you’re already feeling down, realizing you’re getting a sinus infection just adds insult to injury. The next day’s 10 hour flight from Paris to Houston was, of course, an even harder time to have coughing, sneezing, sinus pressure, etc. I couldn’t sleep so I just watched movies. I really wished that I had asked a doctor to prescribe some knock-you-the-hell-out drugs for this particular flight. All in all, I had a smooth traveling experience and couldn’t have asked for anything better considering this was my first international trip.
I have so many thoughts and learnings to reflect on from my days in Paris, Prague, Krakow and Budapest that it’s taking me a while to sort them all out. Travel really changes you. I can’t wait to see what residual effects I see in myself from now on.