A Weekend in Budapest
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
22nd May 2014
Before I begin; GO TO BUDAPEST. Literally, get on a plane right now and just go. Fly to Hungary and experience, what I just experienced as THE BEST WEEKEND OF MY LIFE (so far).
Not only is Budapest a captivating and beautiful city full of vibrant bohemian culture, but it is SO damn affordable. I’m talking so cheap that it feels almost scandalous. Let me put this into perspective; we went for four days and three nights and spent the equivalent of £120 on our accommodation, a boat party, a Spa party, a bar crawl, three meals a day, transport and additional souvenirs. It is the perfect destination for the young, skint traveller (entrance music please) and I highly recommend staying where we did at the Carpe Noctem Vitae Hostel (£10 a night)!
My friend Millie and I decided to tag along with our fellow Australian friend, Melina, who had helped to organise the trip amongst a couple of other Erasmus students that we hadn’t met before. We rocked up rather spontaneously to the airport and introduced ourselves to three guys from Spain, Brazil, Chile and two from Mexico, who we would be living and travelling with for the next four days. Luckily, they were absolutely awesome and we got on like a house on fire.
This was my first time ever staying in a hostel, but the Carpe Noctem was flawless in its warm welcome and party organisation. The staff were a bunch of barefoot hippies who spread nothing but joy to those weary wanderers who waddled in through their door. Our main port of call was an American 20-something year old called Joe, who introduced himself by telling us he’d sourced his current ‘lucky’ belt from a dumpster. Nothing like a bit of up-cycling.
Four days seemed like an ideal amount of time to absorb the culture, though like most European city breaks, a lot of people manage to cram it into just a weekend. That’s assuming your just trying to take part in the really touristy stuff though, there were a lot more hidden gems across the city that having had more time, we definitely would have liked to check out.
DAY ONE: We arrived mid afternoon and decided that in the evening we would take part in whatever event our hostel was promoting. Joe told us they were heading to a boat party event that was kicking off at 9pm, which sailed down the River Danube beneath the city lights. We excitedly agreed to join them and for just £20 we boarded the ferry and were handed a BOTTLE of complimentary champagne EACH to indulge once on board (that was our bevy’s sorted for the evening).
Ok, so now picture standing on top of an open ferry, as it slowly glides its way up one of the most famous rivers in Europe, at night, with all the Houses of Parliament illuminated beneath a starry sky. And you’re rather merry - throwing shapes to a DJ on top deck blasting club anthems. It was epic.
I remember so vividly, leaning over the side of the boat and watching in awe as the twinkling buildings drifted by. I felt like I was in a dream. My Mexican friend Pato came and joined me, and we had one of those movie moments where we just stood and took all the magic in from our surreal surroundings. We spoke about how travelling brought so many kindred souls together, how it surfaced so many immense emotions and how it allowed us to take away so many incredible experiences. The view from the water was indescribably stunning and I may or may not have shed a tear.
DAY TWO: After a day of wandering the city on a student (that means FREEEEEE) historical walking tour, we decided to take part in our hostels bar crawl. We met some pretty cool people and got to drink vodka mixers in five different bars, once again, for FREE. A lot of the open air venues in Budapest are built among old ruins that are decorated with paper lanterns, fairy lights, street art and draped fabrics to form walls and ceilings - really playing to that free spirited, bohemian vibe. You feel edgy just using the bathrooms there.
DAY THREE: As it was our last night, and a Saturday, we got tickets to attend an infamous Spa Party! Held in the hot springs of the Budapest spas, hundreds of crazy drunk kids (us) were crowd surfing, drowning in the rapids, partying in the Jacuzzi and desperately trying to keep our plastic cups above water level. Situated in what could only be described as a pool palace, tourists gathered to boogie the night away drenched in god-knows-what infested water.
In the centre between two large pools were disco lights and a DJ, blasting chart music whilst we were whirling around in the rapids trying not to get mouthfuls of chlorine mixed in with our champagne. It was an iconic experience to say the least. And we won’t go into any further detail, but due to my own carelessness I nearly died that night. I’m not even exaggerating, I genuinely drank too much pool water and ended up in a most fragile state that warranted having to be unconsciously put in the recovery position. Great night.
In the day times we visited the Basilica, the parks, the palace, the castle…. we tried yummy Hungarian food and walked for hours around the River Danube. With brilliant company from a bunch of strangers who became extremely good friends, Budapest was a life changing trip that only further induced my desire to explore our planet further. With flights from Ryanair as cheap as a cheeky Nando’s + a cinema ticket, there is no excuse not to go and try it for yourself.