The thought of graduating from college, entering into a serious relationship, and moving to New York was inconceivable to me a year ago. And although these changes were tough, moving away from New York after only 8 months was even more difficult. I was about to move a fifth time, turn my still-new relationship into a long distance one, quit a job I loved, and leave behind some amazing friends. There was so much going on I couldn’t think straight. I needed to get away. For the past few years I’ve been building up airline miles and I felt it was finally time to put them to use. And where better to escape to than Budapest?
My boyfriend and I packed our bags, and after two planes and a train were in Budapest. Though I imagined Budapest to be a cosmopolitan city, we arrived instead at a small rural train station. There were no cabs, trams, or buses in site. Luckily, Budapest has Uber, and it only took a few minutes for us to reach the heart of town. As soon as we arrived, we knew that we had chosen the right place.
We spent two days wandering the streets of Budapest drinking flat whites, stumbling upon boutiques, soaking in hot springs, and taking in the amazing architecture. Budapest is split into two sides, aptly named Buda and Pest. Although now seamlessly connected, the sides developed separately before merging in 1873. Pest is the busier, central district, while Buda is more hilly, dotted with castles, and offers amazing views across the Danube. During our two days in Budapest, we explored both. My patient boyfriend David tolerated my incessant need to take pictures of doors and I and I let him navigate us through the city, with his ‘excellent’ sense of direction. We only got lost five times!
It sounds cliché, but pictures really do not do Budapest justice. Everywhere we walked we found a new beautiful building, bridge, or small street to explore. The views were equally impressive, and it seemed like there was a new one around every corner. On our second day, we woke up early and climbed the cupola of St. Stephen's Basilica. The panoramic views of the city were awesome! We were also able to get a glimpse of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion and the Buda Castle, and at night walked across the Chain Bridge to see Parliament lit up.
The best part about Budapest was the food. There were lots of great restaurants and the meals were all economical. Although everywhere we went was good, Zeller Bistro and Borkonyha Winekitchen were by far the best. Zeller’s food is locally sourced; one of the best parts of our meal was hearing the owner explain how most of the restaurant’s food came from of his family’s farm and vineyard. Favorites of our meal at Zeller included a duck entrée and a sparkling elderberry wine. Our meal at Borkonyha Winekitchen was also excellent- they had a great goulash starter and we loved all of the wine that we tried.
We also enjoyed checking out the local bars and shops. Our favorite bar was Szimpla Kert, which had a completely unique vibe. The building was filled with abandoned relics and was designed to look like a ruin. I would highly recommend grabbing a drink here. Another great find was a shop called Nubu, a small boutique with several stores throughout Budapest. Each location had a different feel, and the products are all designed in Hungary. I found a trendy yet durable backpack and some unique jewelry pieces. This is a great shop to pick up souvenirs!
We stayed at The Elizabeth Park Hotel Budapest, which was located on the Pest side and within walking distance of just about everything. From the hotel, were able to explore Parliament and the beautiful surrounding area, walk across the chain bridge, and get to restaurants, bars and shops with no problems. Part of Budapest’s charm is the ability to explore the city entirely by foot, and the hotel provided a perfect home base. We would definitely stay there again.
Budapest is an amazing city, a perfect blend of gritty and cosmopolitan. Although getting there only took two flights, it felt like a world away. I returned home from our trip feeling relaxed, refreshed & ready for the next adventure!