Thursday, May 24, 2012


Greetings from Budapest! After a long day of traveling (Atlanta to Amsterdam to Budapest), we arrived Tuesday afternoon in Budapest. I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open on the bus ride from the airport to the hotel, even though I was in this great European city. When I reached the hotel, I promptly took a four-hour nap, which apparently is not the best thing to do when you're feeling jet-lagged, but I woke up rejuvenated and ready to explore the city at night, and anyone who knows me will realize that I'm so much more pleasant when I'm well-rested.

We've spent two days in the city and it's really amazing how beautiful but also how different the city is. We're staying in a very touristy location near the river, so it's centrally-located (big plus!), but also centrally-located to lots of cheesy, touristy things (lots of casinos, Hard Rock Cafe, etc.).
Love locks
Love locks in a Budapest park 

The format of the trip is such that we get lots of free time in the afternoon, so I've been utilizing that to explore the city and get a feel for its character, which is harder to do when visiting museums or architectural sites.
St. Stephen's Basilica

Yesterday we visited St. Stephen's Basilica, which is the largest church in Hungary and really amazing inside and out. I've not visited too many cathedrals in my lifetime, but the grandeur is quite astounding. Unfortunately it was pretty dark inside so taking pictures was rather tricky.
Toward Pest
St. Stephen's Basilica on the right, as seen from Castle Hill

Dome of St. Stephen's Basilica
Dome at St. Stephen's Basilica (that's God in the center, with rays of light projecting outward)

Last night we went to the ballet, a production of the Brothers Karamazov. I went with a group of people and we were very high up, in the nose-bleed seats. Luckily we had a pretty good view of the performance below, but the plot was a little confusing and once the Hungarian voice over began (is this normal for a ballet?), we all kind of got lost.

Today we ventured to the Buda side of Budapest (the city is split into Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube River; we are staying in Pest) to see the Castle Hill district and Matthias Church. After spending almost two days in the much more modernized Pest, walking around Buda was almost like stepping back in time. It's a quaint village, filled with small colorful cottages, cobblestone streets, and mosaic tiled roofs. The really amazing part was the view, though. Castle Hill overlooks the entire city so the sights are truly breathtaking.
Matthias Church
Matthias Church in Castle Hill
At Buda Castle (ready)
At Buda Castle 

The food so far has been pretty good. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of Hungarian food, but I've been pleasantly surprised - lots of pickles and beets, which I really love, although I've stayed away from the various arrays of sausages. One thing I've been surprised at is how many gelato stands there are everywhere (and I mean everywhere). Sometimes there are several in one block. I told myself I'd wait and save the really good gelato for the Italian cities, but I caved in last night and got a scoop each of yogurt with berries and coffee. I was not disappointed. Apart from Hungarian food, we also tried an Italian restaurant last night after the ballet that was really delicious. My handmade pappardelle with porcini mushrooms was delicious, hopefully a precursor to some wonderful carbs in Florence, Rome, and Venice.

Tomorrow is our last day in Budapest, and we are going to the Museum of Fine Arts in the day and an orchestra concert in the evening. Then one last night in the city and a long bus ride the next day to Prague.
Buda Castle
Buda Castle, as seen from a bridge connecting Buda and Pest 

Other odds and ends:
-Tried my first shot of jagermeister and felt it in my stomach for the next hour or so. I was a fan of the beer chaser, though.
-Hair straightener does not work in Europe. This is a problem.
-The flight was so much better than I expected. I occupied my time with Moneyball, Young Adult, Mad Men, and The Big Bang Theory. What did people do on airplanes before they installed screens in the back of the seats?
-The weather here is reminiscent of summer Florida weather: short showers in the bright sun, 10-minute-long torrential downpours followed by intense sunlight and humidity (see: hair straightener not working being a problem).


  1. so glad you are enjoying your trip so far- buda and pest-who KNEW?! i'd go with a ponytail or hair up in a clip for the duration-blew out my hairdryer in paris (NOT GOOD!) look forward to more.

  2. Bahh! So exciting to read all of this! OMG - what are you going to do about the hair straightener?! Are any other girls having luck? You'll figure it out! And OOMMGG - that instagram was of a jager shot - ew. MISS YOU!

  3. SO EXCITED to see you're blogging!! great photos...great stories. love you!

  4. yup - officially jealous!! Seems like you are having a great time and only more amazing times and memories to come :) Ok - so more importantly, the hair situation! I know some girls were able to find European hair straighteners over there - so start looking for that!! Have an awesome time pretty lady!