I am addicted to my new found freedom. Leaving Russia only one week ago, and after 4 months of little freedom, I have celebrated each day. I landed in stifling hot Budapest, Hungary on July 2nda little after midnight with two big rollie bags full of winter jackets and boots from Russia. I wish so badly I could have just shipped them home or left all of it behind because traveling with that much stuff is difficult. I think I would have just left all of my clothes in Russia if it weren’t for how expensive my winter jackets and boots were. I then had my backpacking backpack with the small amount of clothes I would be wearing over the next month whilst traveling, and lastly, of course, my baby Taylor guitar. So…. I looked like a fool… little me, carrying 4 bags and trying to get to a hostel in the heart of Budapest at 1 AM.
Becca’s flight was delayed 6 hours from Amsterdam. We had originally planned to meet in the Budapest airport so she could help me with my bags, but those plans we just thrown out the window when her flight got delayed. We really had no way of communicating any new plans considering we didn’t have phone or Internet service and so I left her a note with the airport bus service telling her to meet at the hostel hoping she would somehow come across it. Not knowing when she would get in, if she would get the note or when she would get to the hostel I waited out in front of the hostel until she finally got there a little after 330 AM. And that is how our journey started…
Needless to say, after that late night we tried to sleep in but were rudely interrupted by the outrageous heat of Budapest. When I was in Russia I always felt stupid not understanding the temperature in Celsius degrees. Ximel had to educate me on what was considered warm, hot, cold and freezing. She told me that 30 degrees was considered hot… so it was a lovely surprise to wake up in Budapest to 40+ degrees of heat. Not fully understanding that, which was probably a good thing, Becca and I decided to go for a long walk to explore Budapest.
We walked probably around 7 or 8 miles (Looking back and doing some research, we were stupid for thinking we could walk that far in that heat… it reached 110 F). Ran out of water and realized very quickly that we were going to have to plan our trips around where the closest access to a body of water was. Although the Danube River splits Budapest it, is dirty and no one swam in it. Instead people used the fountains located throughout the city to cool off in. So we joined in the fun!
Realizing our mistakes from day 1 we decided that we couldn’t just walk around Budapest in the heat, we were far too exhausted for another day in 100+ F weather. So, we, rented some bikes and flew all around the city weaving in and out of the bike lanes, crossing the Danube, soaking up the sun, looked at the beautiful architecture, and of course went back for some swimming at the local watering hole.
Upon returning our bikes to the bike shop we met a nice local Hungarian who gave us some suggestions of places to visit. One of which was just past his hometown, a city called Visegrad (pronounced Vi-sh-ee-grad). We did some google research and found that it was located North of Budapest about 40 KM on a section of the Danube called “The River Bend”. It was a medieval city famous for the Fellegvar Castle that sits on top the hills around the River Bend. It was also on a part of the Danube that was swimmable. So after taking a long hike and walk through the castle we took a dip in the river and watched the sun set. We ate dinner at a restaurant on the water and tried the Hungarian specialty, Goulash Soup. Delicious.
This peaceful and relaxing dinner was followed by a not so peaceful return journey home. We missed the last bus going back to Budapest and we only made it half the way back on a bus before getting lost on about 4 other trains and busses. We ended up off any maps that we had and finally had to just take a taxi back to our hostel at about 1AM. It was an adventure to say the least.
After another late arrival home we decided to take the day to relax and get all of our finances and documents in order. We spent the morning sleeping in, and hidding from the heat in our hostel getting everything organized. Then spent the rest of the day in the fountain cooling off.
For our last day in Hungary we decided to take another day trip. This time we journey south to a city called Tihany. Tihany is a little town located on the north side of Europe’s largest fresh water lake, Lake Balaton. We woke up early to catch the first train out of Budapest to a city called Balatonfured where we got on a bus to get to Tihany. The tiny town of Tihany was located on a hill that over looked the entire lake. It was a beautiful view of the lake from Tihany. We got some coffee at a café and walked through the town before making the walk down to the water to swim. The water was shallow and very warm. It felt like we were in the Mediterranean. We caught the train home at 6 in the afternoon. We got back made a fruit salad for dinner and packed everything up in preparation to leave Hungary.
Today we are leaving Hungary. We are currently sitting on the train from Budapest and heading to Prague, Czech Republic. This train will be going through either the southern part of Slovakia or northern part of Austria depending on our route. When we first got on the train here we had a cabin to ourselves. Becca slept for a while and we were comfortable with our own space. But just about 15 minutes ago we made a stop and 4 older, stinky woman and shoved into our compartment. They had huge bags and little tolerance of our comfort level. So, here we are in the corners of the compartment trying to get comfortable for the remaining few hours of the ride to Prague where we will spend the next 6 days exploring a new city.