Budapest (Part 1 - Pest)

One of the things people most often comment on when I tell them that I lived in London for two years is how much travel I must of done. While it's true Europe was on my figurative doorstep, I didn't travel outside of the UK nearly as much as I would have liked (poor me I know). Luckily I was able to make up for it in the few months before I came back to Canada. I travelled to six countries and 12 cities and towns within them. It was amazing. 

I wanted to catalogue some of my favourite photos from my trips, mainly for family and friends who have been asking about my travels, but also as a keepsake for myself. What can I say, a Facebook album just doesn't have the same panache... and thus far I've failed miserably at creating the scrapbook/printed book I said I would. So many great ideas, so little time. 

Although it doesn't make the most chronological sense I decided to start with Budapest. Full disclosure: this is mostly because it was sunny the whole time and I'm in full on summer mode at the moment. So with that being said, here is Budapest...

Parliament Buildings

Parliament Buildings

I travelled to Budapest with my best friend Jess, who came over to spend a few days in London and then travel back with me. *Quick side note: Jess is an incredibly talented photographer who is responsible for about half the pictures in this post (ie: the really good ones) . I highly recommend you check out some of her work www.jessicabenderphotographyblog.com*  

We stayed at a beautiful apartment about five minutes away from the parliament buildings, so decided to spend the first day of our trip on the Pest side of the river. 

Our first stop was breakfast at one of the most aesthetically-pleasing cafes I've ever been to (more on that later) then we ventured down to the parliament buildings. 

 

From there we went for a walk along the Danube to the famous Chain Bridge

From there we went for a walk along the Danube to the famous Chain Bridge

http://www.jessicabenderphotographyblog.com/

http://www.jessicabenderphotographyblog.com/

Windy day on the Chain Bridge - http://www.jessicabenderphotographyblog.com/

Windy day on the Chain Bridge - http://www.jessicabenderphotographyblog.com/

  A moving tribute to Holocaust victims:   "Shoes Along the Danube" 

  A moving tribute to Holocaust victims:   "Shoes Along the Danube

It's at this point (ok, it was a little while back) that I have been struck with the realisation of just how tricky writing a travel blog post actually is. Trying to capture the essence of a city, or how you feel when you're in that place is incredibly challenging. This is magnified when you managed to pack in quite as much as we did in to a trip. We clocked at least 10-15 miles a day walking around the city, taking in the incredible architecture and sights along the way. We soaked up the culture, laughed, ate, and made many a memory (mostly of the "you had to be there" variety so I'll spare you). Though, I digress, let's continue with our first day...

 

After the river and Parliament we made our way to St Stephen's Basilica... Naturally we climbed to the top. Partially for the view and partially to work off the treats we ate at Cafe Gerbeaud.

At the top!

At the top!

View from the top

View from the top

Heading back down...

Heading back down...

We ended the afternoon at City Park. Wandered around Vajdahunyad Castle (pictured below), got some traditional Hungarian food from one of the stands set up in the park and then made our way for a soak in one of the thermal baths Budapest is known for.

Szechenyi Thermal Bath is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe and the first thermal bath build in Pest. Though what I'll remember most was the stunning building set amidst the backdrop of a moody sky... and the bachelor parties, or rather the stag do's as most of them were British. Oh those stag parties (nah, doesn't sound right when you blend it), those stag do's - the bath was FULL of them and man were they rowdy (though it would be a slight let down if they weren't).

I'm fairly confident you haven't experienced true bewilderment and social anxiety until you've been the subject of chanting led by a pool full of rowdy men - in a bikini no less! - all egging each other on. Thankfully this was a purely observed occurrence and I am not speaking from personal experience. Though I was mildly traumatised at the thought and made sure to leave through a different exit that was under much less scrutiny.

Below is one of the many 'beer bikes' we saw. I have to say it does look pretty fun, and if you could put cider in that keg I think I might have just figured out my future hen-do plans.