Part 1: Buda and Pest- An Eastern European Christmas Tour.

Parliament in Budapest on Danube River.

Sitting in the laundromat in Vienna is probably a good time to catch up writing.

Leslie and I have created a tradition of going to get beers before I travel. It wasn’t the best idea to leave at 9:30 PM and get back home after midnight when you have a flight at 4:30 AM. But hey, you only live once. I slept for one hour and got up to prepare to head to the airport. I love me an aisle seat. It might be a control type of thing. I put my satin eye mask on and I was sleep before we took off. I flew good old Pegasus. Think the Spirit airlines of the Gulf region. I finally awoke when we were about to land in Turkey for my four layover.

You’re wondering what one does for four hours. Well I spent about 30 minutes roaming duty free. It seems as though the prices were high in comparison to other airports. Nothing peaked my interest. Afterwards, I went to an Italian restaurant and had pizza for breakfast along with a glass of wine. Don’t judge me… I’m on vacation. While I was there I wrote my first journal entry for Becoming. It’s a guided journal meant to help you find your voice. Then I realized I had the app called Lounge Buddy. Basically it shows all the airport lounges worldwide that you can access for a small fee. That’s when I realized I was close to a lounge that was decently priced for 16 Euros. I could have unlimited snacks, beer, wine, water and Wi-Fi. So I spent the remainder of my layover in the lounge sipping Efes beer and munching on treats. Before I knew it, ISG Lounge had fulfilled all my needs and I was ready for my short journey to Budapest- in which I would continue my nap.

*As a side note, I wondered what was up with the bald, red, crazy looking scalps of men the last time I passed through Turkey. Apparently, it’s the hair plug capital. And I mean every man is getting the hook up here.

A short flight and I landed in Budapest. Before leaving I read that you could take to 100 E bus to Deak Square with no stops or the 200 E in combination with the subway. I’m not sure what possessed me to take the 200 E. It was about 2 euros for either one. For future reference, take the 100 E. I mean I was all over the damn place. And finding the subway wasn’t easy with luggage. Also I had to transfer to a bus and then finally the subway.
*Side Note: Google maps app is your best friend.

For this trip I decided I would try the hostel life. I did lots of research to determine which was the best and cleanest. For Budapest, I choose The Hive which is considered a party hostel. I checked into my room which had 8 females, two showers and two restrooms. It was very clean and quiet during the day. It was in a lively area and it seemed to be a varying demographic. The neighborhood in general was booming with traffic, coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

The first evening I had already reserved a night tour on the Danube River with a beautiful view of the parliament. Because it was night I wasn’t interested in figuring out public transportation. I took a Bolt, similar to Uber over to the pier. At first it seemed as if no one was there and then the boat was full before I knew it. I was welcomed on board with a glass of champagne. It was a beautifully narrated cruise. Afterwards I went to the Ice Bar Budapest because I had never done that before. My ticket included three shots. All of them were great, but I was in there 10 minutes tops. It is extremely cold.

Having a few shots at the Ice Bar.

I was able to actually walk back towards the hostel with the assistance of Google Maps. I stopped and had a great burger and beer for dinner. I was actually surprised by the number of burger and BBQ joints. The next day I did the Hop on Hop off tour. It was probably the worst day to do it. It was cold, cloudy and raining. Honestly, I only do those to get a feel for the city. I have nothing good to say about the tour. What I did find was several Christmas market and mulled wine. I also had my first and last langos with cheese and sour cream. While it was good, something about the combination turned me off. So I just got more mulled wine. I seemed to be pretty drained, so I was sleep by 6 PM.

So, your probably wondering why I separated Buda and Pest. Back in the day Budapest was two cities separated by the Danube River. Buda is the Castle Hill district or royal area with plenty of natural baths. On the Pest side, you have the Parliament building.

I also took a day trip on the train to Szentendre, which is about 40 minutes by train outside of Budapest. It’s nice, quiet and has a Christmas market. I met a very nice guy that made a lunch suggestion while I was visiting.

The next morning I got up and rode the subway to the Parliament area and to see the Shoes on the Danube River Memorial. It is a memorial in remembrance of Jews killed by militiamen during WW1. I hung around for some time and I was able to see a performance by the soldiers at the Parliament which is right across the street. Afterwards I went to find Soul Food Budapest. It was right on time. Because it was so cold, I had the Jambalaya. It was amazing and hit the spot. It was actually in the neighborhood of my hostel and I didn’t even realize. After lunch I rested for a while and then went to the local laundry place to clean my clothes as I would be leaving the next morning.

Shoes on the Danube River Memorial

I decided that it would be a good idea to check out the night life my last night in Budapest. I signed up for Bingo Bar Crawl through the hostel. It’s was pretty cheap considering it was unlimited drinks at the first bar for one hour. The second bar gave us a shot upon entry and I participated in karaoke. The third bar was okay along with a shot. We ended at Instant nightclub. It’s definitely the party scene there and I highly recommend it if you want to have a great time. Around 2 am I decided it was a good idea to head in since I needed to be at the bus station by 9:30.

Bingo Bar Crawl

Overall, I really enjoyed Budapest. I spent a great deal of time walking around and just discovering Christmas markets, shopping, food, bars and historical sites. The one thing that I did not do is check out a thermal bath. The most famous are Szechenyi and Gellert Thermal Baths. The pictures look soothing, but I just couldn’t see myself doing this in the winter. It seems like a spring or summer activity. Budapest is a very walkable city and public transportation is easily accessible.

I wanted to switch this trip up by using a combination of air, bus and train. If you’ve never traveled by Flixbus through Europe, give it a try. Clean, orderly, comfortable and free Wi-Fi. I was able to successfully catch the subway to the bus and arrive at the international bus terminal on time. Bratislava, Slovakia… here I come.

One last thing.. If you would like to see all of my pictures from Budapest, visit my Instagram profile @jetsetmelanin2018 and watch my stories.

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