I’ve come full circle to where my grown up travelling all started. I’m back in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
After a long journey of cancelled trains due to the unusual heat hitting England this week (seriously though, as pathetic as we are as a nation, climate change is definitely a real thing) and delayed airport bag pickups, my friend and I finally stood in the hammering rain before our hotel entrance yesterday lunchtime.
A fun conversation with our driver about how England and Hungary appear to have switched climate roles made us feel welcome from the off, but I’ve never had a check-in experience quite like this one. The two guys behind the desk were so friendly and so fun, and we found ourselves not even caring that they were behind on cleaning and our room wasn’t ready – they were a plenty entertaining and informative distraction, from pretending to be robots to cracking jokes to talking about where they live and their taste in music. I didn’t particularly recall how friendly or not Hungarians were on my first visit, but I can now say with 100% confidence that they are seriously so nice. And if you’re worried about a language barrier, don’t be. The English in general is excellent here. I almost feel bad for not knowing a word of Hungarian when I arrived because they’re so eloquent in our language.
We popped out for something to eat in the form of a classic burger, killing time until we could check in, and as soon as the room was ready it was a whirlwind change and out to venture across from Pest to Buda, to spend a few hours chilling out and recovering from our intense fatigue in Gellert Spa.
Budapest is known for its many baths, and this one is the smaller of the most famous for tourists in the city, an attraction perfect for relaxation no matter the time of year. With six pools, some cold and some thermal, as well as intricate Roman architecture smattered with plenty of pretty foliage, it truly is a beautiful place, and while not very extensive, you could almost fall asleep in the warm, 36 degrees Celsius water, or alternatively enjoy a serious swim or some wave action in the cool pools. There’s even a Finnish sauna and several massage treatments on offer. The spa, built during the second world war and still thriving despite part of it being bombed, is open until a respectable 8pm, but bear in mind if you fancy it, last entry is at 6.
Relaxed and full of poolside cocktail, heavy on the tequila side, we were out in time to catch the sun setting over the River Danube, before returning to the Jewish Quarter, where our hotel is located, and ending the night trying to stay awake to enjoy some more super cheap drinks in a local bar. Gas Station Pub, located down one of the winding streets of the Jewish Quarter, may sound a little dingy, but every bar here is cheap and friendly, and getting a seat in the open window was an extra bonus!
Despite being up since 5am and travelling all morning, I think it’s safe to say we made the most of our limited first day, a great sign of what’s still to come today and beyond as we further explore this gorgeous corner of Europe that I’ve only been able to brush the surface of up until now. Yay me!