When I was studying in Scotland, I had to choose between spending a day in Vienna or spending a day in Budapest. I ended up choosing Vienna because it was closer to Munich, but I seriously wished I could’ve seen Budapest as well. It seemed like the one European city that got away and seriously everyone would talk about how amazing it was! I made it my personal quest to somehow get to Budapest in the next 5 years.
Luckily for me, my camp in Croatia ended up sending me to Budapest to pick up children for the next session. Like I previously stated with my trip to Slovenia, I was conveniently paid to escort our campers on a bust to Budapest, where their parents would pick them up. Then my camp paid for my hotel and food so I could traipse my way through the city and pick up the next batch of kiddos the next day. It was the sweetest set up and helped me see quite a bit of Europe!
This time around, We ended up getting to Budapest around 2 and one of the boys’ moms didn’t come for around 30 minutes. After that, I had to set myself up in my hotel room, shower, and charge my phone so that I could explore the city for multiple hours without having to come back to my room. I was finally able to get out and explore around 4.
My hotel was located on the Buda side of the Danube River, but I had no clue that the city was even split into two separate sides. I had heard that the Opera house was pretty, so I ended up walking for about 30 minutes across the Charles Bridge to the Pest side. I ended up in the middle of the Inner City, where the old town was located. It was gorgeous, but I had literally no clue where I was.
I ended up wandering all the way over to St. Stephen’s Basilica, where I saw lots of tourists and those weird motor scooters zooming up and down a beautiful cobblestone walkway full of shops and sweets. It was breathtaking and I seemed to have found the middle of the city on a whim! I ended up getting some magnets for my family and me and then headed towards the Parliament building.
I had vaguely heard about the Parliament building being pretty amazing, but I really didn’t know what it looked like. Little did I know that it would be HUMONGOUS, on the side of the Danube, and gut wrenchingly beautiful! It seriously took my breath away and I stared at it in awe for about 30 minutes, just thanking my lucky stars I was able to see such a sight with my own eyes. I’m also a sucker for gothic architecture, so this building literally was my dream!
After that, I walked towards the Shoes on the Danube, which a memorial to all the lost Jewish citizens of Budapest during World War II. It was very sobering and reminded me to be very thankful to be alive, happy, and carefree when others who stood there before me were not as lucky.
Slowly the sun started to set, so I took a stroll back to my hotel via the Charles Bridge. It was awe inspiring to walk on the bridge at night – every monument was lit in gold and I was able to see the Buda Castle in the distance.
As I was walking towards my hotel, I stumbled upon two huge monuments. I didn’t know the names of them at the time, but I later learned that they were the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. I had distinctly remembered seeing them in the distance and wanting to get over to them, but I didn’t even mean to steer myself directly towards them. I walked through the castle – like archways of the Bastion, listened to a man playing the violin, and soaked up the summer night air. I also took a walk around the Matthias Church to gaze at the intricate tile work on the roof and the various historical signs that were situated around the doors. After moseying around that area for a long while, I wondered up some more cobble stone streets, grabbed a Coke at an Italian restaurant right before they closed, and took some more pictures of the pretty flowers.
At this point, it was around 11 PM at night and my phone was on 8 percent battery. I knew my hotel was pretty close, but my GPS suddenly told me to take a left down a staircase – but I couldn’t find the staircase! My GPS literally stopped working for about 10 minutes and I started freaking out that I was lost in the middle of a foreign city in the dark with little more than 5 percent phone battery. After fretting for another 10 minutes, I finally found the staircase and descended into the creepiest garden I have ever encountered. This seriously felt like such an idiotic moment on my part – I was a young woman, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, with a dying phone and a broken GPS wandering around all alone at night. I definitely thought I was going to die in that creepy little garden and would never see the light of day. Thankfully at that exact moment, I saw the light of my hotel up ahead and practically ran back to the place with my arms open wide. I then got to my hotel room and realized I had left my room’s door open. I had also left a couple dollars on my bed, not thinking anything of it…. I was seriously so lucky that nothing was stolen and now triple check that every door I close it ACTUALLY CLOSED.
After quite a nice shower and a sleep, I headed back down to the lobby and hopped on the bus. We picked up the new kids and started on our way back to Croatia at the break of dawn.
I am seriously so thankful that I was able to see Budapest on my own terms, but I really regret not bringing a portable charger or my common sense with me. Please, never walk around alone at night unless you know exactly where you are going! And ALWAYS check to make sure your hotel doors are shut properly! Don’t be a dummy like me.