I took a train directly from Vienna to Budapest with another person in my program named David. We took a later train so we could make it to German class in the morning on Friday so we didn’t arrive in Budapest until around 9pm. The first thing I noticed is that Hungarian is so much different than German. I could barely pronounce any of the street names! And while it was snowing in Vienna, it was raining in Budapest and slush covered all of the sidewalks. It was not the most pleasant journey but we eventually did manage to make it to our hostel. This was actually my first time spending the night in a hostel. It was the cheapest one we could find so I didn’t expect much from it, but it ended up not being too bad! For those of you who have never spent the night in a hostel, there are two things that hostels are not known for: privacy and cleanliness. I was in a room that could fit 12 people and got to listen to my roommates snore and talk loudly throughout the night! Luckily for us though, our hostel was pretty empty because not many people travel in winter.
On Saturday David and I had planned to explore as much of the city as possible. Our day started out horribly. It was raining again, we couldn’t find any working subway ticket machines, I forgot my umbrella and cut my hand on a new one I bought...everything was just miserable. We did manage to find our way to a museum called the House of Terror though. This museum is devoted to showing the terrors that Hungary went through while it was occupied by the Germans and Soviets. Most of it was in Hungarian, but I could understand some of the exhibits. It was more interesting to watch the other people in the museum. Many of them had been alive during this time so they were very touched by this museum. I definitely noticed the effects of living on the other side of the iron curtain throughout the city as well. Many of the buildings (especially on the Pest side of Budapest) were falling apart and there were not many modern ones as well. The subway was also very beaten up and in need of an update. There are still many beautiful things in the city too though.
After the museum, we walked around the city park and made our way to the Parliament Building. Things were starting to look up too! A man in the subway noticed us struggling to get a ticket from an automatic machine so he gave us two short trip passes so we could go to an actual ticket stand a couple stops down. We could now use the subway which made everything much easier. When we got to the Parliament Building, we ended up waiting for over an hour in the cold and rain for a ticket but it was totally worth it. This is one of the most beautiful and famous Parliament Buildings in Europe. There were beautiful paintings, gold, and statues everywhere. I also got to see the Crown of Hungary which was amazing. Here’s just a small sample of how beautiful it is:
After the Parliament building, David and I got dinner and decided to walk around the city in the evening. Budapest is 10x’s more beautiful at night when all of the buildings are lit up. We went all over, seeing things like Fisherman’s Bastion and the St. Stephen’s Basilica and even walked across one of the bridges over the Danube. We sadly had to leave early the next day, but I’m really happy I got to see most of the city. Budapest really is amazing!