I flew from Brussels to Budapest and as I landed, I knew that I had made a great decision to stop in this country.
Budapest has never been on my list as a place that I need to visit. Back in April, my friends in Vienna and I were driving around and I kept seeing Hungarian license plates. Since I’m terrible at geography, I never realized just how close Hungary was to all the countries I’ve visited. As soon as I made that realization, I decided that Budapest would need to be on my list. When the opportunity came up, I knew that this was my chance.
As per usual, I did no research on this city and didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
It’s really easy to get from the airport into the city. You get out of the airport and head out to the buses. There are ticket machines right by where the buses pick up. You can buy just the bus ticket or you can buy a full 72 hour pass for 8900 forint (around $33 USD dependent on the exchange rate). This pass gives you unlimited access to public transportation which is great if you plan on wandering around the city. After you buy your ticket, get onto bus 200E towards Kobanya and then from there take the metro into the city. I heard that you need to validate your ticket and that the metro systems are closely monitored. If you’re caught without a validated metro ticket you can receive a huge fine from the police. With the unlimited pass for 72 hours, you don’t need to worry about it. Also if you don’t do that pass, there are metro workers at the top of every stair case to ensure that you get your ticket validated before heading down to the actual train. If you’re not sure, you can always do what I did. Just wander aimlessly around the station until you figured out where my platform was and try to get your ticket validated (hint: the 72 hour pass is about 4 times bigger than the regular ticket and does not fit in the machine. Which didn’t stop me from trying to get it validated).
After I figured out that my pass didn’t require validating, I finally boarded the train and headed into the city. I was staying at the Mercure Hotel Korona which is just outside of one of the train stations on the blue line so it was a nice surprise to pop out in front of the hotel. I checked into my hotel and settled into my room. I must admit, I felt like Harry Potter. I was on the 9th floor of the building with a room that had a slanted ceiling, almost like it was under a staircase. It was a simple room without much space, but it was perfect for me. After I got settled down, I put on my Tieks and made my way out to the city.
As I started to wander around, I had two goals:
- Find food
- Find the Danube
I accomplished both, but just not in the time I thought I would. I walked out of my hotel and walked in the direction of what I thought was the Danube. About an 45 minutes into my journey, I gave up and tried something different. I eventually found the Danube and sat by the river to enjoy the view. Along the river are benches that you can sit on and enjoy the view of Buda. I sat there and plotted my next few days in the beautiful city.
As I walked along the river checking out the view and scoping out what I wanted to visit on Buda, I started walking toward the city. As I walked into the city, I realized that my hotel was actually about a 7 minute walk from the Danube. But getting to see the neighborhoods that eventually led me to the Danube was totally worth the extra hour long walk.
I stopped by a grocery store, picked up some food and made my way back to my hotel for a nice quiet night in preparation for exploring the next day.