Our family loved Budapest. Despite the heat, we spent most of our time outside. Whether we were walking over famous bridges, or chilling in Hungarian baths, we were having fun. I hope someday we can come back to Budapest! (Or I’ll have to look at the pictures my dad tortured us with.) Once again, a peek into my super-secret trip journal! here we go!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2016 DAY 239 (totally true)
Today is our final day on the Amaviola river ship, still celebrating Sydney and Piper’s birthday… we’ve got to make it good!
Horses and Goulash:
We got off the ship early again, to visit the Hungary Central Market (cool) and then take a bus for an hour out to the Lazar Equestrian Park. We got to the park at around 10:00, formed groups at the entrance, then went off to make goulash, an East European meat soup. I could understand the recipe easily even though it was Hungarian, but figuring out which was the paprika and which was the garlic was a disaster. Fortunately, we worked in groups, so there were some people who could tell me which spice was which.
After stirring the goulash over the open fire, I got kind of bored (a major hazard of being on a big trip), and a bunch of kids were playing on the playground’s zip line, so I went over to the playground.
After a while, they called us over to come watch a horse show. The first guy rode a horse. The second guy rode a horse. The THIRD guy rode a horse. The fourth was a kid who rode a pony (or whatever you call a juvenile horse). They demonstrated how to crack a whip, then rode in a circle around the arena.
The next guy was cooler. He shot a bow and arrow into targets more or less 20 feet away while galloping on a horse. I probably wouldn’t even take my hands off the reins if I were that guy, much less shoot arrows at targets.
My first… sing-along!? And solving Rubik’s cube!
Back on the ship, I was just resting in the lounge, when somehow I ended up playing ukulele and singing for all of the kids. I even surprised myself. I didn’t think I had the guts to do it, and later, I found out that I was actually playing in the wrong key for “All of Me” (But that was only by a half step… nobody noticed.)
What’s a famous thing you can think of that came from Hungary? Rubik’s cube of course! A group of people who are supposed to be really good at Rubik’s cubes came to the ship to demonstrate their skills. And skills they were. One guy solved a 3x3x3 cube in 20 seconds. I couldn’t believe it! At the end, they passed out Rubik’s cubes to everybody. I mixed mine up, then had to get somebody to solve it for me. I’m really gonna have to learn how to do it myself.
The rest of the night passed quickly. I played more ukulele for the kids, we went up to the top deck (They call it the Sun Deck, I call it the Lido Deck.) and watched buildings light up as we passed through the heart of the city on the Danube, then we watched a slide show from the whole cruise. I was quite tired at the end, and as soon as my head touched the pillow, I was asleep.
THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2016 DAY 240
Well fortunately, we only knew everybody else on the boat (oh, I mean ship) for a week, whereas on SAS, it was three and a half months– so it’s a little easier to say goodbye. On the downside, the whole week of fun comes to an end.
Anyway, we got off the ship early that morning, said our goodbyes, nice to know yous, hope to see you agains, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, checked into our apartment, and climbed a hill. Unfortunately, there was no funicular, because I love funiculars.
Gellérthegy Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion:
When we got to the top of the hill, we stared at the beautiful view, read the inscriptions on the statues, played Pokémon Go, sweat until the collars in our shirts were waterlogged, then finally, started down the hill for lunch.
We got lunch at an art museum (even though we didn’t see any art), then left for the Fisherman’s Bastion. I still don’t really understand the significance of this place, but the point is, it’s beautiful, and has a great view. And we ran into some of the kids from the river cruise!!
After Fisherman’s Bastion, we rode a tram and the city bus to a mall and got to go to the movie Finding Dory!! I was really excited not just for the movie, but for the popcorn. Yeah!
We went back to the apartment for a short rest, then got dinner at Gringos Amigos! Who knew they had a Taco Del Mar style Mexican restaurants in Budapest???
FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2016 … DAY 241
I was happy with the Mexican food last night, but I’ve just got this itty-bitty feeling that Sydney and Piper aren’t.
Don’t tell me I should’ve said the past-tense “weren’t”, because I mean the present-tense “aren’t”.
Um, I really should break this to you quickly… Sydney and Piper had a bad case of diarrhea. To be honest after all the unusual food we ate through Asia and Africa, I didn’t think any of us were going to end up having diarrhea in Europe, especially from Mexican food, but something was in that chicken last night that the twins didn’t particularly like.
House of Terror Museum:
Dad and I left for the House of Terror museum, while Mom took care of the twins. The museum is all about the terror that took place in Hungary while a) the Nazis were doing what they do best, and b) the Soviet Union was doing what they do best.
Basically, I mean they were both terrorizing Budapest.
There were pictures of the horrible conditions the people were living in during both times, especially when the Soviets were here. They showed pictures of 1.000 (That’s one-thousand. People in Europe use the dot instead of the comma in numbers and vice versa.) out of over 30.000 Hungarians that were executed by both groups.
Okay enough of the sad stuff.
Dad and I went back to the room to see how the twins were feeling, and to bring them some lunch.
After our short break at the apartment, we went to the Parliament building. I wasn’t a fan of the long walk in the heat, but there was nothing I could do about it.
The Parliament building was worth the long walk. It was really cool. There were all these different exotic decorations inside the buildings. The crown jewels were also inside, and they’re guarded 24/7. What was really interesting to me were the ventilation systems. The air conditioning was basically ice put into a well that had a pipe that connected to the building. It worked so well that they didn’t change the air conditioning system until 1997 when a much more modern system was installed.
Seven Ferraris, and a Deluxe Four Seasons Hotel Lobby:
As we were walking back towards our apartment, we walked by the Four Seasons. Ironically, while we were walking by the Four Seasons, we saw seven Ferraris, one after the other driving down the street at 50 mph, revving their engines like it was the last thing they’d ever do. I couldn’t believe it!!
And now I’ve got some advice for you. As we walked by the Four Seasons, we could also see that it was VERY fancy. One look at the lobby, and BOOM. You decide you need to go inside. It’s the coolest hotel lobby I’ve ever seen. The chandeliers are beautiful, and the mosaics on the floors are breathtaking, even the walls, with only a few paintings on them, are covered in golden decorations. I still don’t understand why it’s not ranked on TripAdvisor as a “Thing to Do”, because this is a must.
Yeah. I wanted to just keep sitting on the couch looking at the decorations, but we needed to go. After one more pass from the Ferraris and seeing a Hungarian soccer star get into his car at the hotel, (I don’t know Hungarian soccer. Don’t ask me who it was.) we headed off to our nearby Japanese restaurant. We asked our waitress if she knew about the Ferraris, but she had no idea… so here we are, still wanting an explanation for why seven Ferraris are randomly driving around town.
Our day wasn’t over yet. Walking back towards our apartment, we ran into the same group of kids that we’d run into a day before at the Fisherman’s Bastion. They’d gone to the baths, and they said it was really fun. I know that I’m looking forward to the Hungarian baths because I really like the ones in Japan.
Fortunately, we plan to go tomorrow!!
SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2016 … DAY 242
I am so excited to go to the Hungarian baths! So excited.
We left our apartment at around 10:00 to get to the spa by 11:00. It was a 45 minute walk in the heat (“Honestly, Dad. Why can’t we just take a train or a bus??” DAD NOTE: “Because, son, there are cool sites like the Hero’s Square to see on the way…”).
And guess what. The baths are really cool. The first bath we went into was like a warm swimming pool, and one of the two outdoor pools. I really wanted to go into one of the colder ones, because we were all quite hot from our 45 minutes in the blazing sun.
As we shifted to the other outdoor pool, I noticed that there seemed to be a whirlpool at the heart of it, except it didn’t seem to be an actual whirlpool. It was more like a fast lazy river (Is that possible, or just an oxymoron?) flowing in a tight circle. As soon as I waded into the entrance, I was immediately swept away by the current, with Piper and Sydney in my wake.
By the time we got over the initial shock of being swept away, we started playing fun games in the current. One of our favorites was “surfing”. I would swim down to the bottom, while Sydney or Piper would stand on by back, and the current would push me with one of the twins on top.
By around 1:00, it started to rain, even though it’d been sunny the whole day before this. Sometimes during this trip we’ve been unlucky with weather, and sure enough, a thunderstorm started. Everybody had to get out of the pools and go inside. Unfortunately, that meant that everybody was crowded in the indoor pools. We were lucky to get a seat in one of the “hot tub” pools.
After spending a good 20 minutes relaxing, we got out of the pool to go get some lunch at the cafeteria. The food was really good. I got a chicken leg with French Fries.
We spent about another hour in the pools, then headed back to our apartment, and after some TripAdvisor-ing, I found a reasonably priced, nearby escape room!! We booked it for that night, and after Sydney and Piper did a little bit of homeschooling, we were off!!
The room was circus themed, and after our escape, we found out that we’d set a record! We were out in 40:40 (although we did need a hint), and there were some really cool ideas in the room. I liked the claw machine, and pedaling the bike to create electricity to turn on a black light.
Dinner was the normal boring dinner (although, I did get tapas) and it was right to bed after that.
SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2016 … DAY 243
What comes after fun kid’s day?? Boring adult’s day. I hate boring adult’s day.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral:
I take that back. I don’t really hate boring adult’s day, because we got to go to a cathedral. They’re much better than a castle. You may ask why I like cathedrals better than castles. I hate castles because they are ALL THE SAME! This is very untrue for cathedrals. They are all quite different.
Anyway, we went to St. Stephen’s cathedral, the most famous cathedral in Hungary.
The cathedral is very ornate with a huge amount of golden decoration (That means it’s in Baroque style. See? I’m actually learning something in homeschooling!!)
Next, we climbed up to the top of the cathedral’s dome. It was quite a view from up there.
We could see everywhere that we’d gone the previous days. Fisherman’s Bastion, Parliament, etc.
Hungarian State Opera House:
We got lunch adjacent to the square of St. Stephen’s cathedral, then left for our 4:00 tour of the opera house. I hate opera houses almost as much as I hate castles. During our walk, we travelled through a miniature flea market. There was one cool shirt showing many different destinations in Europe that you could check off if you had been to that place. I almost bought it, but I was thinking I wouldn’t wear it because the thread inside the shirt was all itchy and stuff.
Because it was very hot, we took a break to put our feet in a small pool of water sort of like a fountain, but without water squirting up in the sky.
The opera house was not as boring as I’d expected, there were some interesting facts. Seats under the chandelier were cheaper because people were paranoid it’d fall on them. Also, all the golden decorations are actually made with real gold, but just on the outside. That gold is so thin that the total weight of the gold in the auditorium is less than five pounds.
Bath #2! (Or should I say “water park”?):
After the opera house, we decided to go to another bath/spa. This one was more like a water park than an actual spa. It had a few waterslides and a wave pool, and other fun stuff too. I had lots of fun in the wave pool, and the waterslides were enjoyable too!
..and after the bath, we walked through Margaret Park as the sun was setting. It was a really nice night, and after a twenty-minute walk we had our last dinner in Budapest at a more “traditional” Hungarian restaurant, where I got a really good crispy duck. It was crunchy, but juicy at the same time. It’s too bad that this was our last day in Budapest, or I’d want to come back to this restaurant.
We walked across the famous Chain Bridge on our way back home. I thought of it as a mix between the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Arc du Triomphe. The view from the middle was beautiful. You could see all the buildings lit up in the night.
Super excited for our next stop, Berlin, but we’ll hope to be back in Budapest someday!!