5 Travel Tips for Budapest

Budapest is a cool city. Matt and I did a lot of walking while we were there. There’s nothing more interesting than walking around a new city. I feel that walking around allows you to see unexpected things more frequently than when you just take public transportation. Matt and I walked everywhere in Budapest and we definitely got a great feel for the city for the amount of time that we had. Here’s some tips that we collected to help you navigate the city successfully.

 

Check out the view from the Fisherman’s Bastion and get a bite to eat.  This location provides a great lookout over Budapest. You can see the parliament building across the river. It is a great place to take awesome photos of the city. Matt and I also grabbed a bite to eat at the HB Cafe which is in the structure. Once again, it was an awesome view and we had some great food.

 

Walking around to see the sites. Matt and I managed to snag a hostel in between the river and where Heroes’ Square are. These two areas of the city are in opposite directions. We split our trip in half visiting each area. Walking along the streets we got to see the true character of city. Check out all the museums, castles, bookshops, and restaurants along the way.

 

Public transportation can be confusing. Plan ahead. Matt is awesome at figuring out our public transportation routes. We typically utilize public transportation solely to get to and from the airport. Budapest’s public transportation is a beast. Matt spent lots of time working out how to get to and from the airport. It was a bit more complicated considering we had taken the train in so getting to the airport was new for us in that city and we took a very early flight. It’s definitely doable but take the time to do the research and a lot extra time incase you get lost.

 

Take the tram up to castle hill. Sure, we could have walked up to the castle. But we didn’t want to. It was fun to take the tram up the hill even though it was a bit expensive. A panoramic of the city slowly comes into view as you ascend the hill. And it was nice to not have to walk up that steep incline.


Check out a Hungarian secret box.
Matt and I found these after we got off the tram on castle hill. We collected coins for my cousin during our trip and needed a box to put them in. This type of box is so cool. You have to remove secret panels in order to get to the key. It was an awesome souvenir to bring home.

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The Magic & Struggles of Venice

Venice is a magical place. Before I traveled to this location I saw plenty of pictures which inspired me to make the trip to the city in the first place. Matt and I arrive in Venice in the dark. Taking the train into the city, we know there is water on either side of the tracks but we can’t see it. Snatching up our backpacks, we struggle to hoist the oversized luggage upon our backs before we exit the train station. Leaving the terminal, we see a huge canal in front of us but we can’t really see everything. It’s dark and threatening rain so we focus on getting to our hostel. We take a side street and walk away from the canal to an enclosed square with no water in sight. In our room we are in a closed off world; the window opens to the view of a brick wall of the next building over. I stick my head out the window and crane my neck to the right to catch a glimpse of the square we just scurried across. I get ready for sleep and crawl into bed, thankful for reaching our destination and briefly noting the run Matt and I planned for tomorrow.

A Small Bridge in Venice

A Small Bridge in Venice

 

The Beautiful Day

 

A long, restful night behind me, I wake up with sleepy eyes and brush my teeth in front of the mirror while I assess my hair and wonder what I’ll need to do to make it cooperate. It’s a normal day. After I get into my workout clothes, Matt and I descend into the square to begin our run. We come out of a small street and are immediately confronted with the Grand Canal. Running along the water and over small bridges, I keep exclaiming to Matt, “This is so cool!” which mainly resulted in me running out of breath as I don’t usually talk when I doing cardio. In Venice the water laps up against the edge of the canal. In some places it is almost level with the street. If someone wasn’t aware, they potentially could attempt to walk out onto it thinking that it might be a continuation of the streets. The water is a beautiful blue, a hue that is pale yet deep all at once. It’s practically indescribable. And I certainly have never seen its like before in my life. Venice is one with the water. It feels as if the island could be flooded at any second, lost to nature’s wrath. The city instilled in me a sense of wonder and magic that something so splendid and surreal could actually exist on this earth. When I’m near the water I feel at home; Venice felt like the most extreme and unique version of that feeling. It brings me back to memories of my childhood and trips with my family. As I run along I wish I could have my family with me and show them this unbelievable sight before it disappears as sea levels rise, a thought that makes me feel sad. I am so thankful to have seen the city in person.

Temporary Walkways to Traverse Flooding in St. Marco's Square, Venice

Temporary Walkways to Traverse Flooding in St. Marco’s Square, Venice

After a quick shower and a breakfast, Matt and I decide to spend the day wandering Venice. It’s one of those places where you can go to just see the city, kind of like Rome. We make our way over to St. Marco’s Square. We find a small alley and pop out on to a slightly elevated portion of the square, looking out over a system of temporary walkways that have been set up due to the flooding at the location which is one of the lowest points in Venice. I practically squeal with delight. It is such an amusing and novel sight. Some people walk through the water in boots. Other eagerly spend the ten euros on a pair of cheap booties to place over their own shoes so they can frolic through the water. Matt and I patiently cross the crowded walkways to access the basilica of which the entrance is also flooding. The basilica boast a glittering, opulent interior due to gold on every surface. The floor hosts marbles of all shades arranged in varying patterns. The wealth of this location becomes immediately clear upon stepping into the building. It is so ostentatious, extreme, and beautiful, a description that easily matches the city itself. Matt and I spend the rest of the day wandering Venice and taking in whatever sights we happen upon.

Marble Floor in St. Marco's Basilica, Venice

Marble Floor in St. Marco’s Basilica, Venice

Golden Ceiling in St. Marco's Basilica, Venice

Golden Ceiling in St. Marco’s Basilica, Venice

The Not So Good Day

 

The next day in Venice was much less glamorous than the first. Matt wakes up sick so we decide a run isn’t the best idea. The heavy rain deters us as well. Matt and I purchased tickets for a secret tour of the Doge’s Palace in which we could see the regular parts of the building but also all of the back administrative rooms, prison, archive, and torture chamber. Matt and I set out early in case we got lost along the way. The rain fails to subside by the time we reach breakfast so our pants are already soaked through; this event is only five minutes in to our day. We forge on over bridges, through the rain, over temporary walkways. We make a stop to place my bag within Matt’s for fear that my camera will be destroyed by the rain that begins to soak through my bag. At this point it looks like we took a shower in our pants. Thankfully the rain jackets prevent our upper bodies from being soaked as well. By the time we are in St. Marco’s Square, our boots soak through, boots which never had water reach their interior before this particular inondation. That’s how much rain there is. Upon arriving at the Doge’s Palace, the pants exposed to the rain are so saturated that the water is starting to creep up the fabric under our rain jackets. We begin the tour feeling much like drowned rats and hoping that Matt won’t get even sicker. The tour is lovely and interesting even if we shiver from the cold of our clothing which doesn’t dry. After the tour we decide to continue to the hostel. The rain has let up a bit so we take the opportunity to stop in souvenir shops along the way. Upon entering the first shop, heat washes over us. We spend more time than necessary in the shop so that our clothing can dry, which it does completely with the help of standing under the heating vents. After that fortunate occurrence, we decide to stay out, get some lunch, and enjoy the rest of our last day. Unfortunately the rain only subsided briefly. After our meal, we go back out into a downpour and return to our hostel just as soaked as when we arrived at the Doge’s Palace.

Ceiling in the Doge's Palace, Venice

Ceiling in the Doge’s Palace, Venice

Venice is an unbelievable location. We had both a beautiful and rainy day. Both days are something that Matt and I will never forget. It was a positive experience overall in Venice because the place is just magic. Even if you’re soaked to the bone, you can’t help but feel awed and happy to be there. It feels as if you are living on the water rather than near the water. As Matt and I departed from Venice, we looked back at the city across the water. It looks like a floating city rather than a simple island; it’s a grand illusion that you want to get lost on and in.

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Rome in Scaffolding

As Matt and I have been traveling around, we only occasionally find ourselves going to see a city itself. Of course we are always interested to see what the city looks like, the type of architecture it hosts, what the culture is like, etc. but we more often than not find ourselves visiting museums. When Matt and I visited Rome, we were visiting the city itself. It was a pretty cool experience because we specifically visited sites that gave us an even better concept of what Rome was like in the past. You go through layers of history in a way that isn’t so evident in some cities. The ruins of thousands of years past are all around you. Public art is centuries old. Plazas were once stadiums. It’s this odd juxtaposition that I’m not quite used to. Coming from the United States, everything is young there. When you’re in New Hampshire, you go up to the mountains to see something really old in the sense of how long ago the ranges were formed. In Rome, you can visit ruins from civilization of the BC era. There’s something magical about being able to visit a place where people lived so long ago and left such clear marks of their lives. Even better, people still live in the city. Rome isn’t deserted or out in the middle of nowhere. Humanity has managed to take root so solidly in that area that you can’t help but marvel at the history laid out before you.

Trevi Fountain in Scaffolding

Trevi Fountain in Scaffolding

 

It’s important for us to never take our ability to see the ancient history of Rome for granted. This became clear to me as I saw so many areas of Rome under restoration. A good chunk of the Colosseum’s exterior is being cleaned of dirt and is covered in a structure to make that possible. The Trevi Fountain is near impossible to see with all the scaffolding covering the fountain. It seems that a lot of Rome was being repaired or restored. As Matt and I arrived in Italy, we asked the staff at the hostel where in the season we were. Matt and I arrived in the first weekend of off season. Perhaps the time of the year dictates the work that is being done on so many places in Rome. Being in the museum field, I can appreciate that restoration work and preventative measures need to be taken in order to prolong the life of objects. It was easy to accept the Colosseum being worked on; over half of the exterior was still visible and now with the original color of the marble exposed. When I got to the Trevi Fountain, I was irritated. This massive structure that I so desperately wanted to see was completely obscured by scaffolding. I knew I shouldn’t be upset because the work that is being done is necessary and good but I really wanted to see that fountain. I told myself that I would just have to come back another year as I looked forlornly through the plexiglass barrier that separated me from the construction. The city erected a walkway through the scaffolding so that the public could still get up close to the fountain. At first I was so annoyed that I didn’t even want to go up to the fountain. Then I realized that not many people can say that they’ve seen the Trevi Fountain in scaffolding and even fewer can say that they’ve had the opportunity to get so close to the sculptural elements, even if some of them were partially wrapped in plastic. So I went on the walkway and I enjoyed it. I’m excited to see what the fountain looks like without all of the scaffolding but I can appreciate that I saw the area at a special, different time.

Trevi Fountain in Scaffol

Trevi Fountain in Scaffolding

Sometimes when you go to see a city, you can’t see all of it. Things are under construction and restoration. That’s life. People live in the city and maintenance needs to be done on the beautiful historical pieces or they will come to ruins much quicker than we would like. Rome helped me to realize that even if there’s scaffolding all over everything, I can still have a unique and special experience with the city that was well worth my time. And it is good to see an effort being put into protecting the world’s cultural treasures.

Detail of Trevi Fountain

Detail of Trevi Fountain