My introduction to Budapest was kinda not great, in a very uninteresting way that wasn’t really Budapest’s fault. I had a shit time getting to the airport in Kiev, since my terrible cell phone didn’t get reception even with a Ukrainian sim card so I missed my Uber drive and had to frantically get a taxi, for which I way overpaid (I mean, it was still probably only like $10, but just irritating). And when I got to Budapest, I discovered the directions to my hostel were pretty much “get off the subway, turn left, and walk ’til you see us,” but not, like, which subway exit to take, or any cross-streets, etc.
And again, my phone being useless, had no way to even begin to load Google maps.
But desperate exhaustion outweighs shyness, so I stopped a couple of dudes on the street, who turned out to be a lovely Parisian couple visiting family there. Sadly they spoke English much better than I speak French, and I wasn’t really in ooh-let-me-practice headspace. But they looked up the place on one of their phones and found directions, and then walked with me until they could point out exactly where to go.
Travel people are nice.
And despite its shit directions, the hostel — the Flow Hostel — ended being one of my favorites. Budapest is legendary for its party hostels, and like, being a sad older traveler who abuses her liver enough on her own, I wasn’t really looking for that, but also wanted to stay somewhere fun and lively and social. And it was eerily big, with all kinds of weird spaces to hang out or chill (and a massive kitchen), which was neat. Also bed privacy curtains. Love me some privacy curtains.
Anyway, Sunday (I think it was a Sunday), as usual, I just wandered aimlessly for a few hours, along the Danube and through downtown, getting acquainted and taking pictures.
Which, like, going through and editing (and I use the term “editing” loosely, but whatever), holy fuck am I happy to have a phone with a decent camera again, as well as access to an actual camera here (like, basic cheap digicam, but decent). I apologize for the graininess in so many of these.
Also, the Hummus Bar does not fuck around.
Monday was about the same, but I did take the funicular up to the Buda Castle and wandering around up there before walking back down Castle Hill. Not sure if funiculars are so charming just because of the word funicular.
And finally, Tuesday I went to the Szechenyi Baths, which was all kinds of awesome even if I still can’t spell or pronounce it. I dropped more money than I could really afford on a massage, because my back was (and remains) hella borked after throwing it out in Albania, and then lounged in various pools for a couple hours, which I must say is a fairly civilized way to spend an afternoon, even alone.
And then Wednesday morning I finally left continental Europe for the first time in over six months, which was a very sad day.