Deja vu! Feel like you’ve read that title somewhere? Maybe you have.
…continuing the journey from Delft to Berlin to Prague…
Somewhere back in time, on 30th December AD 2018, we set sail (in a Flixbus) for the cities of Buda and Pest, glued together (or separated?) by the Danube river. (Well, if you consider Buda and Pest to be separate, this post will be one of three cities, not two. So let’s stick to Budapest being a single city!)
We left late at night on the 30th so as to arrive on 31st, exactly on the eve of new year 2019. After some travel hassles from Prague involving a two-hour layover at a subway station in Vienna, we finally arrived in Budapest feeling completely exhausted; a quick power nap later we were almost good to go, though. The city was filled with a kind of energy that made it difficult not to be amazed; everything around was…amazing! (Personally speaking, Budapest was my favourite among the lot.)
In 23 years of my existence, despite 6 of those years being spent living in a location other than my hometown, I’d somehow managed to make it back home for every single new year’s eve. 2019’s was different though – it was spent in a tightly fit crowd in the middle of Budapest. It was quite an interesting experience though – there were people all around on the streets (and not in the most sober of mental states) singing songs about the new year! I hadn’t imagined I’d be welcomed by 2019 in such a fashion, least of all in a different country!
New year’s day is naturally one on which a person cannot wake up before 12:00 pm. And so was the case with us. But once we were up, we continued our exploration of Budapest – we climbed atop St. Stephen’s Basilica (yay student fares!) and got a nice bird’s eye view of the city. Apart from that, there was the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Buda tower, the Buda castle, lots of walking around, and yes, the famous Tram Line 2 (supposedly among the world’s most scenic tram rides) – and scenic it was indeed, especially at night!
Budapest had lots more to offer apart from the historical places of interest and the amazing views – hot baths! We checked for a few places around and went for a hot bath with a setup in which the water temperature was maintained at 40 C and the surrounding air was at 5 C (brrrr!). There was a Finnish sauna as well, so it was all a perfect recipe to make one wonder why they should ever leave the pool or the sauna! But alas, time flows on. We had to leave after a few hours and move on to continue with our undefined itinerary, finding ourselves attending a Hungarian opera (Die Fledermaus) a few hours later. It was very, very interesting, to say the least! (Actually, it was a German act translated to Hungarian and subbed in English. Talk about getting lost in translation!)
Now, on to the last of the four cities!
Slovakia – the second half of the erstwhile Czechoslovakia – was the last country whose capital we ticked off. Given how tiny the city appeared on the map, we planned to visit it for just under a day by taking a bus early in the morning and returning to Budapest at night. The visit length notwithstanding, it was certainly worth the travel – there are some interesting Slovakian traditions we would otherwise have known naught of, and it snowed the whole day, giving the city a different sort of charm! We went on a nice walking tour of the city and covered the main areas of interest in and around the city centre before having dinner and returning to Budapest.
Here are some photos from Bratislava!
Unfortunately, every good vacation comes to an end someday, and so did ours. After returning to Budapest from ‘lava, we had to take a flight to Amsterdam the next day. After conversing with some of our hostel mates, we left for the airport to board our flight back.
Here are some additional pictures.