Budapest had been my departure point to the U.S. three weeks earlier, but my visit then had lasted mere hours so I didn’t see much other than the train station and the airport.
Now that I was back, I was excited to spend time exploring the classic European capital. Luckily, I had a relative near Budapest to help with that process.
Matt and I share an aunt and uncle from opposite sides of the family. Despite the fact that we both sport rugged, yet classy, red beards, we’re not actually related by blood.
This combination led to hilarity on several occasions when Matt introduced me as his relative and we were told that there is a strong family resemblance. Close, but not quite.
Matt (a Californian like me) has been in Hungary for several years and now lives a couple hours outside of Budapest. He’s pretty much a local and even speaks the language, which is especially impressive since Hungarian is considered one of the most difficult languages in the world for native English speakers to learn.
I find that knowing (or meeting) a local is always incredibly valuable and facilitates a much stronger connection to the places that I travel. This was no less true in Budapest.
Matt helped me experience Hungary and Budapest in a way I never could have on my own. My stay began with several days at Matt’s home in the town of Papa, a sleepy little village in the Hungarian countryside. We then headed back to Budapest to see what the big city was all about.
Turns out, Budapest is fantastic. I’ve been quite a few places over the last 18 months and there aren’t many that I’ve enjoyed more than the Hungarian capital. It was a lively and energetic city crammed full of interesting architecture, good museums, historic sites, thermal baths, friendly people and a fun social scene.
Budapest is a massive metropolis comprised of many different districts including Buda and Pest, formerly distinct cities separated by the Danube River. Lining the river as it passes through the city is a string of impressive palaces, fortresses, monuments and bridges that give the city a regal feel.
I spent a few great days taking in as many of Budapest’s stunning sights as I could: the National Museum, Buda Castle and Castle Hill, Chain Bridge, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and more. Before I knew it though, my time in Budapest was over.
It was time to catch a night train from Budapest to Bucarest, Romania. Fortunately, I had more fun waiting for me there. I was about to join friends I’d met in Nepal for a week long road trip around Transylvania and the Carpathian mountains.