We left Poland on a 7-hour bus to Budapest, (it was only supposed to be an hour flight, yes I am still a little sore about it) we were treated to a beautiful drive through the stunning Slovakian countryside. The houses nestled into the hills are like something out of a story book, and the shades of green are something unlike what we have back home.
When we arrived in Budapest we headed straight to our hostel where we were given a fairly blunt assessment of what to expect during our stay here. Retox Party Hostel is best described as a no holes barred escape from reality, where the rules don’t apply and most of the guests staying there leave their dignity at the door…or perhaps around the corner.
This hostel does turn on a good party, what it is most famous for and that was something we jumped straight into. The first night we explored the ruin pub crawl through many of the Ruin Bars in Budapest. These well-known watering holes were bombed out during the war that haven’t been rebuilt because of a lack of money – because of this they were purchased cheaply and converted into cool little bars that are popular among tourists and locals alike. The bars were a unique twist on the usual bars that we have been enjoying on our trip, and their own sense of identity really made them something special.
The next day we explored the city and met up with Wei Jen, joining us from Prague – we split up before our failed trip to Ukraine. After grabbing some lunch, we headed into the town to do a walking tour of the city, discovering all of its hidden secrets and spots, and taking in the sights of this gorgeous city.
Budapest is something special, it reminds me personally a lot of Prague, one of my favourite cities in the world. There is something about the streets, the sights to be seen. We walked through this city which was once a crown jewel in the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Budapest has many spectacular sights to be seen, walking through the beautiful old town we were greeted with the amazing Basilica of St Stephen, a beautiful church popular with tourists, and as well quickly learned weddings as well. After the church we wandered through the streets surrounding getting a little taste for the atmosphere of the popular city restaurants.
We explored the beautiful parks, some of the cool and unique bars (maybe for later in the day), and the shopping district. After making our way towards the river we walked alongside and enjoyed the beauty that was Budapest – taking in the stunning views, the parliament and made our way towards the Fisherman’s Bastion and the spectacular Matthias Church they literally look like something out of a fairy tale. These buildings were really something special, take in the pictures but Budapest is a must visit.
After the tour we wandered back to our hostel to get ready for the SPArty – an institution of Budapest – at least amongst the revellers. The SPArty is held at the popular Szechenyi Spa and Baths and attract thousands of party goers to drink and party in the pools. It was an experience to say the least. We left with a group of nearly 80 of us from the hostel, for a few cheeky drinks along the way. The party is something else – the thousands of people all dancing and partying, in the pools, lit to be blue and purple had a stunning glow. It was certainly an experience.
The day after the SPArty we wandered out to explore some more of the city, stopping for lunch at one of the nicer Italian restaurants in the main part of the city. We took a lovely Sunday afternoon wandering around the city, taking it at a slower pace, exploring the little streets around the city. We wandered around for the afternoon taking in the Opera building and taking some time to admire an amazing view of the city from the Citadella that overlooks the town.
After enjoying a beautiful dinner by the river and a few drinks with our friends we retired to Wei Jens apartment for a few more subdued drinks. We had been burning the candle at both ends for a little while across several different cities so I decided to call an early night at 1am, however when I got back to my room – well – there were at least 3 reasons why I decided to go back downstairs and wait half an hour before getting some sleep. It’s funny how things can change – my quiet night quickly turned into another 4am bedtime meeting a few new people and sharing stories about the different things we had seen whilst staying here.
The Monday morning, we ventured out for breakfast and to discover the markets in Budapest, a great way to spend the morning. In the afternoon we headed out to discover another popular landmark in Budapest – the Pálvölgyi caves. A complex system of underground caves, popular with cavers across the world, and also home to many concerts and performances in the stunning open cavern of the cave.
The caving was lots of fun, even if I didn’t fit through all the crevices that were required to successfully make it out alive…fortunately there were shortcuts for those people who have let themselves go a little as they have been travelling. Jokes aside (only half joking) the cave system is beautiful, an amazing chance to get a taste of caving with a cool group of people from across the world. Our tour guide had an incredible ability to scale the walls like Spiderman.
After having a great time caving we wandered out for some amazing food at a little street food market where we enjoyed some brilliant cheese sandwiches and pasta. The perfect dinner before we headed out to Sžimple – the most popular ruin bar in Budapest, we had a great night with our new friends from our caving adventure, as we partied our last night in this amazing city away.