We had a day stop in Bratislava on our way from Austria to Hungary. By the time I arrived here in Bratislava, I was exhausted and sick of taking photos. Looking back, I realised I didn’t take any photos at all here. I didn’t post about it at the time either so these couple of paragraphs are what I can recollect from the day, some 8 months on. We had some time to wander around and a bunch of us went and ate in various places. The food was noticeably different to that in Austria which was rather German and this was much more Eastern European. The architecture also had this same noticeable difference. I had a hot chocolate with my lunch which was more like rich chocolate custard in a cup. It was odd and overwhelming with a strange texture but not a bad taste. Still, it didn’t beat the hot chocolate I had in Norway.
I spent some time wandering around the city having a look at the buildings and learned a little of the basic history thanks to a short walking tour. I was on the search of a ring for my girl, having not been able to find one in Italy where the idea had first struck me. I wanted to take something back to her from my travels that she could use/wear and I knew that she had been wanting a nice ring. It wasn’t going to be an engagement ring or anything like that, but I was looking for something that would be her style, but also with an element of romance. She had been on my mind a lot more over the last week, now speaking with her less as we were both on tours in various countries on opposite sides of the world (she had gone back to Aus/NA to finish off her trip that had been cut short due to a death in the family). It made time zones and wifi syncs more difficult and I missed her greatly. I looked around for the ring without much success and before I knew it, it was time to carry on.
The first place we went in Budapest was to the castle on the highest hill overlooking the city. I had no idea the city was so huge. Massive. As far as the eye could see in every direction! It did look however rather bleak. Dull, gray, muddy waters as the river split the town in two. Instantly much of the appeal in exploring was lost to me.
The fortress was lovely and a man was playing the accordion for some theme music. He got rather grouchy if you walked past without tipping him though! Overlooking the town on this hill was the monument representing peace (but that had previously represented the soviets who had ruthlessly ruled over the city after WW2 until the scythe and sickle was replaced by a feather in her hand).
Another driving tour took place around Budapest and we went out for dinner as a group. We’ve picked up 3 new people on tour here too. Then we went to an old ruins bar and had a few too many drinks. The local men were very forward in attempting to take us home for the night and weren’t too keen on the answer “no”. Being so confident and strong willed in myself I had no issue stating this with 100% affirmation for both myself and a few of the other girls who weren’t as assertive as I when they tried to continue pestering. We ended up finding a table and were playing drinking games of three man, something else I don’t remember, and fingers. Fingers is where each of you place a finger on the rim of the glass. After each person guesses a number the rest of the group swiftly decide if they will remove or leave their finger on the glass and if you guessed the right amount of fingers remaining, you get to step out of the game. The last remaining player must skull the glass of alcohol that is a concoction of everyone’s assorted drinks poured into the glass. Unfortunately for me I lost the game and had to down the glass. Upon finishing the concoction of around 9 peoples alcohol I realised there was indeed a large portion of beer in there, and within minutes, the gluten started making me feel bloated, nauseous, giving me hot flushes, and a degree of stomach pain. Fast forward 15 minutes and I looked like I was 7 months pregnant. After 25 minutes, I was feeling rather ill so I gave up and went home to sleep it off. .
For our free day, I had to run a few errands and smashed out a job interview on Skype. It was semi- close to my girlfriends hometown and was the same role I had been in back home in Australia, in the Deaf sector – which is rather niche. It went well and I was hopeful.
I ventured off afterwards alone as everyone else had gone off in the morning while I waiting for my interview. I was in search of a few things though including a post office to post some post cards, and some vitamins – a superfoods mix of sorts as mine had run out. I found a couple of health food stores and went off on my way. I arrived at the first place and went in. The shopkeeper was chatting to someone who with their comfortable and causal body language I could only assume was a friend as I couldn’t speak the native language. The woman initially ignored me as I looked at the vitamins rather confused. I had previously googled the translations of what I was looking for so I was looking for something that said that on the packet however there were only a few things on display and it looked to be more of a warehouse. Their website did say you could go in though. When she finally looked at me, I asked in broken Hungarian if she spoke English? She replied sharply “No” and turned back to her friend and continued chatting. I stayed hovering for another minute or so before she looked at me again and said in plain English “You can leave now”. So much for that. I went on to the next store that I found and here the woman was lovely. She helped me find what I was after and I went on my way.
Then I had a lovely lunch in a little cafe on a side street that clearly only locals go to and went on through the “house of terror” museum looking at Budapest and Hungary’s history from WW2 and the Soviet reign. The house of terror has a mirror image of the word “terror” cut out of the awning above the entrance so that when the sun shines through it, it displays the word “terror” on the pavement from the shadows. I bumped into a few of my tour mates in here, but made my way around mostly alone as they were a little ahead of me. We couldn’t take any photos in here, but it was both confronting and intriguing.
It was now drawing on the afternoon and we had plans to meet at the thermal Szechenyi baths to unwind and finish off the day. Here in Budapest you have to not only buy your ticket, but get it validated by punching it into the green validation boxes on the platforms. I figured this out however some of my fellow Topdeckers were not so lucky as they had either failed to buy a ticket (apparently the inspectors are never in Budapest) or had failed to validate said ticket, and a whole bunch of them got a massive fine for fare evading (turns out the inspectors are real and apparent). I met up with most of my fellow Topdeckers here at the thermal baths and we relaxed and watched the sunset as the rain sprinkled down on us in the warm waters while laughing and joking with one another. We left and all bought and validated tickets and headed back to the hostel.
Dinner followed by a few quiet drinks at the hostel bar rounded off my time in Budapest.