rriving in Budapesht was, in hindsight, really funny. First, let me say, that besides booking our hostel and getting tips from my Hungarian friend (Andrea), I really didn’t prepare for Budapesht. Like all of my travels, I expected it to be pretty simple to figure our way around. But, Budapesht was different. Well, our arrival anyways.
Upon arrival, like any other time, we stepped off the train and into the station, bags and directions in hand. So, I lead my Mom and we start following the directions step by step. The station is the oldest in Europe, we know now, so it was decrepit and a little scary. People were screaming at one another and gypsies, in their abundancy, were begging for money. We were told by Andrea not to flag down a taxi and Budapesht, as it is unsafe and we are most likely to get ripped off. So, we found the bus stop and hopped on. It all happened really fast, so I just supposed that it was headed into the city. But, it definitely was not. All of the sudden, we were way far outside the city and I had no clue what to do. I said to my Mom, “hey we are going the wrong way, let’s get off”. So, we did. As follows, we ended up sitting on the side of the road, lost, with no hungarian language skills- not even a self-help language book. My Mom did not like the idea, but I decided to ask a woman if she could help us find our way to our hostel. Not that either of us are judgemental, but it was a creepy part of town. Luckily, the woman was extremely helpful and called us a taxi to our destination. Of course, I didn’t have enough Forints to pay… gratefully the cabby accepted Euros. The whole experience tripped my Mom up a good bit. She hadn’t been to a city so tarnished before. Post-communism and the realities it created are still very real and felt. We did end up making it to our hostel, but it itself was unlike any other that I had ever stayed at before. It was a huge historic building, atramentous and blood curling. But, once we found the “front desk”, we did start to feel a bit better. Then we rushed off to dinner, having the receptionist order us a cab. The cab got us lost and drove for 45 minutes like lighting, for what would have been a ten minute drive. Eventually, we made it to the underground cave restaurant we had booked. Dinner, wine, and the good company all made our long day very worth it.
The picture above is of the Szechenyi Bathhouse. It is one of the largest Turkish bathhouses in Europe and located in the heart of the city; equipped with 15 indoor pools, 3 outdoor pools and 10 saunas. It was built in 1913. Szechenyi made for the perfect day of relaxation with my Mom. We loved it and we loved Hungary.