–Written by Cel
Our long awaited trip report! This summer’s trip to Europe was one of our best yet.
We arrived in Budapest after a long flight over. After a short ride from the airport, we made our way to our first Airbnb apartment. A Hungarian woman who spoke no English and pointed at things led us to the place. The apartment itself was quite nice. It was a fairly spacious one-bedroom in a heritage building. Our only complaint was that the gas stove required a lighter to use, which we were too scared to try.
Did you know that Budapest is technically made of two cities separated by the Danube River? Buda, and Pest. Our apartment was on the Pest side. Some highlights:
We went to Buda Castle and the labyrinth underneath. It had a entire section of complete darkness – not a single photon of light as far as we could tell. You had to feel your way through for a good 3-4 minutes; one of the most unnerving experiences we have ever had. (Below is a picture from the non-dark section)
We also went to Kiraly Medicinal Bath, a 16-century Turkish bathhouse (built by the Turks when they invaded Hungary in the 1500’s). This is one of Budapest’s many natural hot springs. Kiraly seems to be geared towards locals, and consequently was the cheapest (about $10 CAD a person).
We saw several of these riding around the streets of Budapest. I think the picture speaks for itself.
Before we went, I somehow thought that Budapest would be a little grimy and not very pretty. However, it turned out to be one of the most beautiful cities we have seen yet. Here is the view of the city from the Citadel, a fortress that overlooks Budapest.
Our next stop was Vienna, a short bus ride away. Upon arriving in our apartment, we were greeted by Thomas. The apartment was probably the best we have ever stayed in, possibly even nicer than our actual home!
Thanks to the wonderful flat top stove, we did a lot of cooking in Vienna, which helped to reduce our costs. Sadly, we do not have a similar stove in Vancouver.
If you ever go to Vienna (or any German speaking country), I highly advise you to try Kaiser rolls. Vienna gave us an appreciation for these bread-like objects. We merely bought 70 euro-cent bag from the grocery store next door, but even those were delicious. Artisan ones from a bakery would surely be much better.
Highlights of Vienna:
Schonbrunn Palace, touted as the “Versailles of Vienna”. Having been to Versailles before, I can say that it is almost as cool, and a lot easier to get to.
Like many European cities, Vienna has a lot of gorgeous architecture:
Vienna regularly appears near the top of “most livable city in the world” lists, and it was easy for us to see why. Transit was quick and efficient, even though we exclusively took the metro and didn’t bother with the busses. Most neighbourhoods were very walkable, with all sorts of amenities everywhere. Prices were quite reasonable, particularly for transit and groceries. Parks and greenery are fairly common. And the food is amazing.
A delicious blueberry banana pancake we ordered:
Coincidentally, while we were there, a local vegan restaurant, “Makro1”, was having their 7-year anniversary party. We stopped by there for some food and to meet local vegans.
Also, if you ever go to Vienna, you must go to this ice cream shop called “Veganista”. They have artisan vegan ice cream, but it is so good that everyone goes there. We literally went there four days in a row, and it was packed every single time (the heat wave probably helped).
Next post, part 2, will cover our last two cities, Zurich and Paris.