Travel is amazing, but what makes it even better is seeing foreign places with friends and family. We were so lucky that two of our closest friends, Kate Gallacher and Erin James, flew from the states to join us on this crazy journey. We all arrived into Budapest on the same night and reached our Airbnb within two hours of each other. Cue big hugs and us attacking the city for a couple of days as a newly formed travel foursome.
Four is the perfect travel group. You’re nimble enough to change plans quickly, we all fit in the same cab and lodging, it keeps it so there aren’t a million opinions on what to do, and everyone can stay in the same conversation. For Katie and I, this was such a perfect break from just the two of us and we needed a catch up on all things Seattle.
The first day we walked more than eight miles exploring the city. We covered a huge amount of ground and landmarks on our must-see list. While we were exhausted at the end, it took the pressure off the following days as we checked off so many things. We also made sure to find some good eats and drinks along the way. Katie and I laugh as rarely drink when it’s just the two of us but when friends come we always end up doing it because we get to be in vacation mode with them. Nobody like to drink on vacation alone.
During our days in the city we saw the Buda Castle, Chain Bridge, St. Peter’s Basilica, Hero’s Square, City Park, Shoes on the Danube, The Opera House, Parliament and more. Sadly, Kate left us after three days to visit another friend in London, so it turned into a sweet tripod. Obviously we didn’t slow our roll and continued to eat our way through the city. We also made it out to the Széchenyi Spa where we spent hours bouncing around the various saunas, pools, etc. In Budapest, bath houses are a huge deal. There were probably a thousand people spread out over the massive facility. It felt like a tamer and more cultured Vegas pool scene with people drinking, having a great time and enjoying just ogling at each other. There are more than 18 pools there all varying in look, size and water temperature.
Some of our favorite restaurants from the city were Cirkusz café, Tuning Bar&Burger, KönyvBár and Restaurant, Doblo Wine Bar and Bors GasztroBár. We also got a chance to see what “ruin pubs” were all about. In Budapest, these bars are all the rage and unlike anything we have seen on our travels. They are basically pop-up style bars made in the ruins of abandoned buildings or lots. In Budapest they can be found in the old Jewish quarter and many were just a few blocks from our Airbnb (best neighborhood to stay in BTW). While some ruin pubs have become permanent establishments, they were originally created to be an underground bar scene. Outside there are no big signs, lines or anything flashy, but once you walk in you see a huge courtyard, music and drinks. Historically the bars would stay around until they got caught by neighbors and would then shift to another location. Hence the allure of being in the know of something secret and cool. The bars are also decorated in a crazy way. It feels like a giant yard sale where everything is mismatched, artists have painted or decorated walls, ceilings, floors and more. At night this eclectic form of décor is lit up in a crazy way so you feel like you’re on some form of drug looking at it all. By day it just seems like you stumbled upon a crazy person’s home in Ballard. All in all, a must when visiting Budapest.