Budapest, Hungary: Day 1

Before I delve into my first evening in Budapest, Hungary, I need to provide a little bit of backstory.

Flashback to August 2014 when I first met my dear friend Orsi (Or-shee).

She and I were both exchange students through Rotary Youth Exchange and her first host family happened to be my friend Sophie’s family. I believe I spent one day with Orsi prior to leaving for Australia. We went out to Steak and Shake and a movie and the following Monday I left for Australia.

As both of our exchange years progressed, my mom happened to convince my cousins to host Orsi. Upon coming back to the United States from my exchange year, Orsi and I spent some time together at the lake during family get-togethers before she went back home to Hungary.

Rotary Youth Exchange flashback: Me, Orsi, and my friend Maggie

When Orsi visited last summer, I told her that I hoped to visit while in England, which is what I did last weekend.

On Thursday, I took the early school shuttle into school. I boarded my train and arrived at the airport around 1:00 pm, which left plenty of time to make my way through security and my gate.

Eventually, I boarded my flight. I read for a little while and chatted with my seatmate during the 2-hour flight. We chatted about his decision to quit his job at Oxford working in a lab and moving back to his native Hungary after living in England for 10+ years. His decision stemmed to make the move back home stemmed from his job no longer holding his interest and also BREXIT. With so much uncertainty with how the United Kingdom will exit the European Union at the end of the month, people working the in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England who are not U.K. citizens do not know what will happen regarding their visas or workplace. If I were not living in England and traveling during this tumultuous time, I do not think I would understand the severity of the situation and BREXIT’s far-reaching impact in Europe.

Finally, I landed in Budapest, Hungary, and found Orsi greeting me at the airport. We hugged and made our way to the ticket distributor. Orsi had me buy a student pass for public transport because the ticket happened to be significantly cheaper than purchasing a city pass for 48 hours. With this ticket, I could ride as many forms of public transport throughout Budapest.

After a combined 1-hour bus ride and metro ride, we arrived at Orsi’s flat. I dropped my bag off and we set out together to see Budapest at night.

The first thing I learned from Orsi is the proper pronunciation for Budapest, which is Buda-pesht. In Hungarian, the ‘s’ makes a ‘sh’ sound just like her name. Additionally, Budapest is actually composed of two different areas: Buda and Pest. Buda is curvier, while Pest is flatter. Orsi lives on the Pest side of the city.

Orsi took me across the Liberty Bridge first, which is green. Many people will climb on the bridge to sit and drink at night, which I saw as we crossed into Buda.

When we arrived at the Buda side, Orsi and I walked along the River Danube and she pointed out the other bridges that are also famous: Margit Bridge and the Chain Bridge. I learned about the history of other significant landmarks, which I would see the following day like the Liberty Statue, Buda Castle, and the Hungarian Parliament.

The Hungarian Parliament (located in Pest)

Eventually, we arrived at the Chain Bridge at which point we crossed back to Pest. The Chain Bridge is the oldest bridge spanning the river Danube.

When we were traversing Pest, Orsi and I came across a statue of Colombo. I had NO idea who Colombo was the main character of an American television series.

Columbo and dog

At this point, Orsi asked me if I happened to be hungry. With my response being “just a little bit,” she took me to a street cart where she ordered a chimney cake for us to split together. Basically, this dessert is a spiral cone of dough coated with sugar flavor. We had a cocoa-flavored chimney cake, which I thoroughly enjoyed! Orsi informed me they tasted better when warm (ours was cold.)

The Chimney Cake featuring the Comedy Theater in the background

As we ate the chimney cake, Orsi continued to point out more landmarks and facts about Budapest.

The Budapest Train Station

She took me to the “fanciest McDonald’s.” I will say the fast-food location was pretty fancy.

The fancy McDonald’s

After walking around for a while, we called it a night and headed back to Orsi’s flat to get some sleep before a full day of sightseeing on Friday.

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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