Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Budapest, Hungary

I have said it once and I'll say it again, this was one of my favorite stops on our Europe trip. It's funny to think it almost didn't happen. When planning we decided last minute that 3 nights in Vienna was going to be too long and instead booked a room in Budapest, which was less than a 3 hr train ride away. I did very little research about Budapest before we booked our train, so we were just going by the seat of our pants. Our main goals were to spend time at the thermal baths, visit the Central Market Hall, and eat goulash.

We thought Lizzy would love being out of the car and sitting on our laps on the train, but we were 100% wrong. She enjoyed it while awake, but once she wanted to take a nap she wanted out of our arms and into a bed or car seat... which we thought was impossible. On latter train rides we gave up the idea of not blocking aisle ways and safely exits and set up her stroller anyway. Which was better for everyone in the end, Lizzy got to sleep and no one had to listen to a baby cry for 2 hours.

However, on this train she cried almost the whole way, and of course had to end the miserable train ride with a major blowout. We were in a hurry to get off the train, so we put her in her stroller to sleep naked (with a diaper). We then made our way down into a metro with no working elevators, pushed around crowded city centers, through the biggest courtyard door I have ever seen, then carried the stroller up three flights of stairs to our hostel. We fully intended to dress Lizzy as soon as we got to our room but as we were checking in our host informed us that the Central Market Hall would be closing in a hour, and would not reopen the next day. After hearing this news, we left our backpacks, grabbed our naked baby and were back in the streets trying to find our way to the Market Hall. After running across intersections, and hopping on a trolley that we had no time to learn how to pay for, we made it to our destination in under 10 minutes. This did not give us too much time to explore the large two story Market, but just enough to enjoy a few shoppes and grab some langos for lunch.
^^ Random girls we took a picture of on the trolley. She was just too cute with her braided hair, dress, and stockings. Her outfit was a huge contrast from the youth of the city. Most with crazy styled and colored hair, piercings, and tattoos. A look I was not expecting in Hungary, but one that matched what we saw of Budapest night life.
^^ Holding a naked baby and eating sweet and savory langos.
A pro about getting there at closing was we had the place to ourselves by the time we finished eating and dressed our baby.
My first impression of the people of Budapest was an old man yelling at me for bumming him with the stroller. In his defense we were coming down an escalator which had signs for no strollers (there were no elevator or stairs as alternative way of getting to the metro with a stroller), but he sure let me have it. My second impression of Hungarians were at this Central Market Hall. Inside the Hall we were stopped every few feet by a sweet shop keeper oohing and awing at Lizzy. Women would call down the row to other shopkeepers informing their friends that a baby was coming down. We were swarmed, everyone wanted a smile or laugh from little Lizzy. It was sweet and heart warming. This trend lasted throughout our time in Budapest, from my experiences no one loves babies more than Hungarians, except the old man at the metro.
After getting back to our hostel from the market we put on our swimsuits and headed to Szechenyi, one of the many thermal baths in the city. This Bath is over a 100 years old, and as you can see from the pictures, pretty impressive looking. The water is warm like a hot tube. So we did not let Lizzy in the water for very long and avoided getting her fully submerged, but she had the time for life, splashing and smiling at all the people. The bath has chess games along the sides where you can find old men playing for hours, and a funny whirlpool formation at one end, along with statues and fountains. 

Other than the large outdoor baths, there are a labyrinth of smaller, warmer pools and saunas inside. The inside is just as pretty, if not prettier. I think I could spend a week in Budapest hanging out at all the different baths around the city. 
That night we walked around the banks of the Danube. Along this stretch of the river there are many beautiful and historical bridges and buildings. These, along with other sites are all light up at night. Which makes for what I think is best and most romantic city view that pictures can not capture. The Hungarian Parliament Building was the most breath taking. And if we were there a little longer an evening boat ride along the river would have been amazing. 
The next day we spent touring other parts of the city. Starting with the Buda Castle. Budapest was two different cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube. Buda has a huge castle on top of a large hill on its side of the river and so Pest built the Hungarian Parliament Building to face the castle of the opposite side. The view from the castle was a nice view of the city.

After visiting the castle, and drooling over handmade Hungarian style dresses, we ate out goulash at a cafe with a view of the Parliament building. We had started giving Lizzy bread at meal time to keep her occupied while we ate, she loved it. 
We then hurried back to Pest over the Chain Bride, collected our things and headed to the airport. Next stop, Greece. 

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