Of all the places I thought I’d visit during my travels, never did I imagine I’d end up Budapest, Hungary. Because the city has so many diverse activities to offer, this trip really has something for everyone. I was fortunate to spend the past weekend, Thursday through Sunday, exploring the historic city, with a group of friends and my WSA guide, Bogi.
For starters, the sights are absolutely beautiful. If you’re one for the arts, the city’s architecture is incredible, from the lavish décor of the Opera house, to the regal St. Stephen’s Basilica, to the extravagant Parliament building. The street art is unrivaled and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, with vibrant murals revitalizing the ruin buildings. A cruise over the Danube river that splits Pest and Buda, illuminated by the city lights alone at night, is a must see. And, like mistletoe, be sure to find a date when crossing under the bridge, for good luck.
The city is full of history and culture, serving as a great way to learn about Hungary, try new cuisine, and expand your Hungarian vocabulary. For the foodies, there was the Szimpla Farmer’s Market and the Great Market Hall, two markets to try for local, homemade cuisine. My favorite was sampling the various varieties of homemade hummus then stopping for lunch at the Szimpla café down the street that makes its food out of ingredients from the market. The Great Market Hall boasts delicious langos, basically elephant ears with anything you want on them, even Nutella and bananas.
For the outdoorsy type, caving, or spelunking, was out of this world. No matter what level of experience you have with the sport, you have to give it a try. This was intense, in a good way. There is something about being in the midst of an expansive cave system, silent and dark, as if the city above it has paused for a brief moment in time, that really challenges you mentally and physically. This really is something that needs to be experienced, no pictures or words can describe it adequately. Equally impressive was how our cave guide effortlessly weaved in and out of tight spaces with such grace and poise.
For those who just want to have a good time, like Ireland, there is no shortage of pubs in Budapest. Most notable were the ruin pubs and the open-air gardens many were situated in, making for a grungy, eclectic vibe for a fun night out. Another activity not to be missed was the thermal hot baths. Again, this is an experience that simply cannot be summed up into words; you have to see it for yourself. The atmosphere was truly alive, living through the energy of everyone in the room. The spa-party, sparty, was basically an enormous, winding hot tub, with a DJ, Dubstep, neon lights, and everyone dancing the night away.
Never had I thought too much about traveling to Budapest, but I came out of the trip knowing so much more about the city, its culture, and all that it has to offer. It was truly an exceptional experience packed with unique activities I would never get to try elsewhere, especially all in the same weekend. Budapest really has it all.
I chose to do this rather than book my own trip in Rome - I wanted to experience one organized/sight-seeing trip rather than a relaxing vacation like many of my others had been. Two friends and I signed up for WSA Rome and don't regret a thing. We met wonderful people, were led by an awesome tour guide Rhianne, and got to see everything I wanted to see in Rome. Plus eat all the best food. There is an optional dinner on the last night that we didn't do right away, but we ended up going to it, and it was SO worth the 20 euro. I made memories and friends, and got to see a beautiful, historic city thanks to WSA!!Mallory Dirks, Simpson College ~ University of Roehampton, London, Fall 2015
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