Tuesday, May 1, 2012

from budapest, with love.

Oh Budapest, what a wonderful, wonderful city you are.

We got off of the plane and stumbled to our hostel. We all were exhausted and tired and we had to take a train then walk 15 minutes to our hostel and heave our heavy bags up four flights of stares. And here's the catch-- we're at the wrong hostel. We were at Carpe Noctem not Carpe Noctem Vitae. Whoops. So we had to turn right around and carry our heavy bags DOWN four flights of stairs and then walk another 10 minutes. Joy. When we found our actual hostel, a lingerie store is directly in front of it. We were a little weirded out but as soon as we rode the elevator to the "pent-house" top-floor, to where our hostel was located, we felt like we were entering a home. Carpe Noctem Vitae is the best hostel I've ever been to and probably will ever go to in my life. It was so chill, relaxed, laid-back. I felt like I was home. There is graffiti art covering the walls and comfy couches everywhere. People are chilling on the roof-deck, playing guitar and sipping beers. There's people playing darts and video-games and just napping on bean-bags. The people who work there are all bare-foot and wearing beachy attire. The people who all work there are travelers as well. They all loved Budapest so much they couldn't leave it. And that's why they work there, because they simply can't leave. I felt like I was home. I felt warm, safe, happy. It was the best feeling in the world. We checked in and got settled in our 15 person room, which was empty of bodies at the time but stuff was strewn everywhere. So we set our stuff down and headed out to a burrito restaurant we passed on our walk.

Our burritos were all incredible. I was such a happy, happy camper eating mexican food. Wow,  I forgot how much I missed it. The guy ahead of me was extremely attractive so I made a comment about how excited I was for a burrito. We got to talking for a bit and he asked me where I was staying, he noticed my wristband (the hostel's all give you wristbands so you remember the address of the hostel and the key-code password to get in) and he laughed and held up his own wrist. We were staying at the same hostel. Little did I know that not only was he staying in the same hostel but the same room as me. He was leaving that morning though, at 4 am for his flight. His name is Dylan and he's from South America, near Johannesburg. But right now he's teaching Athletics in the UK. Talk about a guy, right?

Anyways, we happily at our burritos and then headed back to the hostel to rest, shower, and recoop. We went out that night with our hostel. Carpe Noctem Vitae is one of the 5 biggest party hostels in Budapest. When we decided to stay there weeks ago, I was grumpy. I imagined a party-hostel to be a bunch of fist-pumping tool bags who just want to get shit-faced and party 24/7. Little did I know it would be this chill, relaxed fun place. I'm so happy we decided to stay here. Anyways, we went to a little bar called Morrison's where we ordered mixed drinks and sang Karaoke and danced. The bar was beneath ground level and had 4 different areas, one for the bar itself, one for Karaoke, one for dancing, and one for standing/chilling. We grabbed a table with our new friends from our room: LAD, Trevor, and Chris and a bunch of other people joined in on our table fun. It was awesome. Everyone I met was friendly and happy and I enjoyed the conversation thoroughly. We ordered mixed drinks which was such a wonderful change of pace. We've mainly been sticking to beers because it's so much cheaper. A beer in Greece is around 2-3 euros but a mixed drink is between 8-12 euros.  Here, in Budapest, it was happy-hour so all mixed drinks was the equivalent of 2-3 euros. Heavens to Betsy was that such a treat! We drank Mai Tai's and Mojitos and we all were content. Dylan was there and we ended up chatting quite a bit. I ordered Kelsey and I a "Jellyfish" drink, not realizing it was going to be the single most disgusting drink in the world. Ughh. But other than the Jellyfish, everything was delicious and it was a WONDERFUL night.

In the morning, we woke up around 9 because everyone in the room was talking. That was a bummer. We all showered and got ready for the day and headed out. LAD, Trevor, and Chris all joined us for round number two of burritos. It's crazy that LAD is named LAD, since It's my initials too. His name isn't actually LAD, it's Leighton Allen something-starting-with-a-D. Anyways, pretty cool. Those three guys are all from the East coast and are living in Brussels working on perfecting a business plan for a healthy-fast-food-esque-asian-restaurant. They're all in their early twenties and they are absolutely, positively hilarious. It is so wonderful to have them join us for the afternoon because their sense of humor is greatly greatly appreciated. Since I've been around the same four people for almost 2 weeks now, any body new added to the group is a treat. I love the four people I'm traveling with, not many complaints there, but anyone new truly is a treat. Anyways, we ended up splitting up from LAD, Trevor, and Chris and they headed off to the Budapest bathes and we went to House of Terror. The House of Terror is a museum that memorializes the victims of the fascist and communist dictatorial regimes in Hungary during the 20th Century. The actual house itself is where the torture chambers were located as well as the headquarters of both dictatorial regimes. The museum was very artistically displayed and was beautiful and terrifying to walk through. However, not much of the museum was in English so I didn't feel that I was able to get the "full-effect" of it. However, looking at the torture chambers was truly terrifying. Each chamber got worse and worse as you walked on. There was rooms with no light at all, rooms that were the sizes of closets with nails in the walls, rooms with 3 inches of water covering the floor, rooms with ceilings so low you could only be on all-fours. Now that was terrifying.

Once we were all finished up at the House of Terror, we headed over to Heroes Square to check out the monument there and then we went off to the Budapest Baths. 

The Budapest was nothing like the Turkish Baths. There was no sauna, no massage, no anything like it. The Budapest bath was simply a warm pool where people were sitting in and around. Personally, I thought it was a waste of time and money but the water was warm and it was sunny so I couldn't complain too badly. I just think I wasn't quite ready to be in a swim suit yet. After eat-eat-eating all spring break long I'm not feeling all that great about my body. But, I know I shouldn't be overly concerned with that but I'm a 21 year old girl! Of course that's a concern of mine. Anyways, we laid in the water and by it for a few hours and then headed back to the hostel.

We ate dinner at the hostel because we were eating "family-style" that night. One of the staff was preparing dinner and we all were chipping in a bit of cash (about 3 euro) and we all were sharing a meal together. How cute is that?!? Hawaii, the name of one of the staff, was making dinner and she was preparing chili over rice. It was a little bland but overall, delicious. Home-cookin? Haven't had that in awhile. 

Tonight is the booze cruise night. We all had signed up for it and we were pumped. We started the night off at a bar so we could order inexpensive drinks and start the night a little earlier than the boat was prepared to take off. Kelsey, Steph, and I all ordered only 1 drink: A shot of Golden Tequlia. Tequila and I are not friends. We don't even make eye contact. I'm not a fan at all. However, this was the best shot of Tequila I had ever taken in my life. You wanna know why? Throw away your salt and limes my friends, and pick up an orange and a dash of cinnamon. Now that's the way to take a Tequila shot.
LAD, Trevor, Chris and Me!
Walking to the boat was about a 10 minute walk and I walked with Hawaii and basically asked her about her life story. She said she was traveling europe alone and randomly selected Budapest off of a recommendation from someone she met on her travels. Once she arrived at Carpe Noctem Vitae, she knew she just couldn't leave it. She cancelled her next flight and asked to stay and work there and they accepted her. She's a fiery red head and has some sass to her. She's wearing a cow-girl hat and her attitude on her sleeve. She's not a bitch by any means, she's hilarious and chill and a great human being all around. It was a great walk and a great conversation.

So we all piled onto the boat and grabbed our bottles of cheap champagne. The boat passed all the major sites so we got to cheers our individual bottles of champagne to each site as we passed it. I met a few guys from Spain, a few from New Zealand, and a few from Australia. How awesome to meet people from all over the world and to get to talk easily and fluently with them with absolutely no language barrier? It was awesome. The sites were beautiful and I enjoyed being on the water with great people.

The next day the boys split off from the girls because they were too tired and wanted to to hang back at the hostel. We went to a little open air market and we ate some potato pancakes, sausage, and treats. We bought a few souvenirs and enjoyed the sunshine. We went for a walk along the water and took a few pictures. We found some steps and sat out in the sun for awhile. You know how much we love steps!
We then walked back towards the center and passed a Rickshaw driver who asked us if we wanted a tour. Normally, I would have ignored him and walked right ahead but Kelsey stopped and asked: How much? He said 20 euros she said, how about 15? And he said: sure. So we went for an hour long Rickshaw ride. Ben, the Rickshaw driver, was the greatest. He was in his early 20s and spoke English incredibly well. He was very knowledgable about the city and showed us Parliament, St. Stephan's Basilica, and other great buildings. I was so happy to be riding in a Rickshaw with Kels and Steph and the wind in my hair. I was just simply happy.

When we went back to the hostel, we grabbed the guys up and went off to a "traditional hungarian meal" at a restaurant that the hostel strongly recommended. It was an artsy, comfortable restaurant with low lighting and books lining the walls. I loved it. I had mint lemonade and beef goulash. The goulash was a little salty and nothing special really, but it was "traditional." So I gave it a go.
The guys went out with the hostel again to the bars but Kelsey, Steph, and I decided to stay in and catch up on some sleep. We were having to wake up around 8 to catch our flight and we are all worn down. Everyone didn't head out until around midnight so we all sat on the bean bags and chatted with fellow hostel stayers. I chilled out on the roof-top-deck for awhile with a handful of guys. Guys from America, from New Zealand, from Liverpool, from Australia, from Italy. I was the only girl out there so naturally, all attention was diverted towards me. The all asked me where I was from, where I was studying, why I picked Greece, what I was studying, etc. It was fun to get to tell my story and then to listen to theres. We all were sipping wine and beer and enjoying a beautiful sunset. One guy was playing guitar and they all tried to convince me to sing for them. Well, that was sooo not happening. But we talked and talked and I loved it. What a cool thing, to be in a foreign place amongst new friends, content and happy.

We caught our plane with no problems other than our bags being 5 kilos too heavy so we had to super-duper-cram our carry-ons. We headed back to Thessaloniki and were all sad to be leaving Budapest but so happy to be returning to Thess. When we landed and grabbed a cab, I couldn't stop smiling. I was so happy to be back home. It was an amazing journey, a complete and total whirlwind. 5 countries in 15 days. That's a whirlwind trip for you. Not only did I learn about other cultures and other cities, but I learned about myself. I can feel myself changing, growing, shifting. It's a wonderful thing to have your eyes and heart opened in such a way.

I was ecstatic to have had such adventures galavanting all over Europe with great friends, but I was exhausted and ready for my own room, my own shower, and for a chicken souvlaki. The minute Kels and I set our bags down we headed out to get a chicken souvlaki. Here's our happy pictures of being home.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning Carpe Noctem Hostel on your blog!