Buda & Pest

So far, my weekend explorations throughout Europe have been overrun with the complete and total disbelief that this is somehow my life at the moment––it truly feels like I’m in a dream. After visiting London and spending a week adjusting to Copenhagen, I spent my first month abroad exploring Budapest, Rome, and Paris. There is something absolutely insane about spending three consecutive weeks in four different countries, and after each trip returning back to my new “home” of Denmark that I just only saw for the first time one short month ago. It has been a whirlwind to say the least.

One of the most amazing parts about traveling abroad is having a home base to return back to between each trip. I have traveled for weeks at a time throughout Europe before, and lugging around one or more massive suitcases throughout foreign airports and train stations is not the easiest. This month, Budapest was a chilly 40 degrees, whereas Rome was a sunny 60. The clothes I packed for each city were completely different, so having the ability to return back to Copenhagen and repack from my own closet into a carry-on suitcase was absolutely amazing. Considering the short plane rides and inexpensive tickets, it’s almost easier traveling here than it is back home. I’m definitely not taking this unique travel situation for granted!

Speaking of Budapest, I thought I’d prevent this post from becoming a novel by highlighting my time in Hungary here, and then my birthday week spent in Paris and Rome in a separate post. I am taking a break from flying for the next two weeks, as I think dedicating some time to further explore Scandinavia is in order. Plus, nothing sounds better right now than a (somewhat) relaxing weekend home in Copenhagen.

I have never been to Budapest let alone Central Europe before, so exploring Hungary’s charming and historical capital was most definitely on my bucket list. It also made for the perfect weekend trip because Budapest does not have a massive laundry list of big destinations as does Paris or London. We made sure to see the most tourist-friendly, including:

  • Castle Hill & Fisherman’s Bastion (great views)
  • Parliament
  • Shoes on the Danube (WWII memorial)
  • Chain Bridge (connects Buda and Pest)
  • Dohány Street Synagogue (the largest synagogue in Europe)
  • Saint Stephen’s Basilica
  • Széchenyi Thermal Baths (you have to go once!)

The cultural contrast between Hungary and the United States was very easy to sense immediately upon our arrival. I realized how much more “at home” I will inevitably feel in countries like Denmark, England, and even France. Of course, this culture clash is not a negative in the least, but it was interesting to experience during one of my first trips abroad; I can imagine my trip to Iceland in a few weeks will yield a similar feeling. Experiencing foreign ways of life with curiosity and an open mind, though I may feel out of place at times, is exactly why I came abroad in the first place and is so incredibly humbling to see. The diversity within Europe’s small square milage is mind-blowing, and I have no doubt the next months will be some of the most eye-opening I have ever experienced.

Something I never realized about Hungary’s capital is that is is split into two sides, Buda and Pest, by the Danube River, which flows through Central and Eastern Europe. On Saturday, I spontaneously decided to walk from our hotel to the river while my friends were doing something I stayed back for, pick up food and dessert along the way, and eat it a the riverfront (as shown below). I had an amazing view of the “Buda” side along with the Chain Bridge in all its glory, and it was surprisingly one of my favorite moments of the trip––I was also completely alone!

It was also an amazing bonus that everything in Hungary is so inexpensive, which is such a contrast to what we face in Denmark. We made it a point to bank on this and eat absolutely anything and everything we wanted––definitely not complaining! Gelarto Rosa, the most beautiful rose-shaped gelato, was the absolute best and we ate it while overlooking the stunning Saint Stephen’s Basilica. If you can’t tell, my favorite activity has easily become eating amazing food while overlooking European scenery. It really doesn’t get much better.

Overall, I’m extremely happy I saw Budapest and would love to return someday in warmer weather and go on a boat trip down the Danube. This trip proved that the spontaneous, unplanned days or moments are often those that end up being most memorable or unexpectedly beautiful. I kept this in mind while I visited Paris and Rome last week, which I will speak about in an upcoming post. Until next time!