Fresh off a full night of “sleep” on our cloth-covered spring mattresses filled with springs and then refilled with springs, we attempted to wake up and be ready in time for the free walking tour around Budapest that meets down at the bottom of our hostel every day at 1045. After losing track of time, we missed it by 5 minutes. Although what seemed like a failure on our part ended up being a blessing (and a drain on our wallet) in disguise. On our trek to try and catch up with the walking tour (which we couldn’t find) we were convinced by one of the numerous salesmen trying to sell you “hop-on, hop-off” style tours around Budapest, this one from the company Big Bus Tours.
Our friend showed us the map of all throughout where the bus travels, how it you can hop on and hop off however you like, as well as listen to great commentary about what you are seeing on top of their double-decker buses. In addition, you can buy their package deal which includes admission to any one of the four major bath houses that are so famous in Budapest! Lucky us, right? For only 71 euros (or 20,000 Ft) for both of us, which would save us around 9,000 Ft since we wanted to go to the baths anyway, we could get the deal… After giving it some thought, as Kelly and her mom had signed on for a similar around Washington D.C. for more than that total for each of them, we decided it was a good deal.
With our tour tickets (including today and tomorrow service, a free night tour, as well as our complimentary access to the famous Budapest bath houses) in hand, we ate at another restaurant near one of the bus stops (which didn’t quite have the flair and prices of our first culinary experience) ready to get on and see the city. It was soon discovered that it was a great idea to get the Big Bus tickets, because the first place that we wanted to go took us about 10-15 minutes by bus to get there and climb up the hill to reach the historic and panoramic heaven of the Citadella. While on the map this looks like a reasonable trek by foot, I mean come on, we’ve been walking all over every city we’ve come to and its never been a problem, would have ended up being a massive hassle and workout to get to the Citadella and would have taken up most of our day.
Fortunately, we had the bus tickets. The old fortress atop the biggest hill was the same location that in 1944 when over 65,000 Nazi troops occupied Budapest, was the headquarters of said occupation before being ousted in a battle that lasted over 100 days and level more than 75% of Budapest before the Russians drove the Germans out. Not but 12 years later in 1956 did the Citadella once again play a key role in “defense” of the city as Soviet tanks were in place here as they fired down into crowds of “pro-revolutionary” Budapest forces. All-in-all, our first stop alone was beginning to be worth the money.
After our getting off at the first stop and snapping some incredible pictures of the surrounding Budapest, we decided to hop back on, and this time stay on and ride around the whole 2 hour or so tour of the city, taking note of where we should come back tomorrow and explore more thoroughly. This proved to be a good decision as we now have several places we would love to go back to, as well as a mode of transportation to get around the much larger city than what appears on the map.
Passing by beautiful cathedrals, old castle districts, and everything else there was to see along the massively overflowing Danube, we finally ended where we had initially planned to go, the baths. We stopped at almost the end of the tour at the same bath house that the guy who sold us the tickets recommended us to go to. Our ticket gave us “free” admission to what would have been a 14,000 Ft (for each of us) toll to enter the famous facilities. The pools are heated year round and full of young and old people alike. Saunas and steam rooms as well a gym, the massive facilities were truly a great place to get a closer look at the real Budapest.
However, the charm of the bath house ran out quickly as Kelly’s headache was significantly magnified while sitting in the water. A minor headache had exploded into Kelly’s first ever migraine that gave her crippling pain on a level she had never previously experienced. With no water or advil, we quickly left and made for our hostel as fast as we could to get her the attention and rest she needed. A plethora of drugs and a Pepsi later, Kelly and I napped as she found to break her fever. A 5 hour nap later and her migraine had subsided. By this time it was almost midnight, and we were once again content to continue to sleep and let Kelly’s immune system battle the cold she’s been battling, let alone her migraine.
Hopefully when we wake up tomorrow, she’ll be feeling worlds better, ready to take on Budapest once again!
Cameron & Kelly