Where to Go: Budapest
We set aside an afternoon to walk along the Danube, take a boat tour, and wander the markets. We assumed it wouldn’t be enough time to cover all of those things, but we’d spent far too much time at the Easter Market the day before so we didn’t have a lot of options. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, we were wrong. It was more than enough time to enjoy the water because the markets we’d planned to visit were disappointing. (more…)
Where to Go: Budapest, Easter Festival
We don’t intentionally plan trips during religious holidays but it tends to happen every year. I don’t know why it happens. When we get an itch to travel and we’ve saved up enough money we start with booking cheap plane tickets so there must be some sort of correlation (even though I’ve always been told it’s expensive to fly during such holidays because other people are traveling then too).
Whatever the reason, I am now going out of my way to make it happen. We first went to the Easter Festivals in Prague and Vienna (which was a few years ago already and kind of freaks me out) and were astounded at the food, the handmade goods, the food, the commitment to decorating, the food. So – the food. Festivals like this bring out desserts that are only served once a year or delectable braised meats or specially-made beverages. Budapest is no exception. Of the three, Budapest had the best food – which is saying something considering how many words I dedicated to Prague’s trdelník. We visited the stalls for three days in a row – once for lunch, once for snacks, and once for what we called dinner but was definitely a snack followed by a dinner followed by a dessert or two. (more…)
Where to Go: Budapest, the Thermal Baths
The main reason we booked an extra day in Budapest was so that we could spend it at the thermal baths. That might sound a little ridiculous, but the baths really are – or should be – a full-day event.
An admission that actually is ridiculous: unnatural bodies of water and public swimming pools freak me out. The bacteria; the too-many people smashed into too-tight quarters; the feeling afterward of having dried-out dirty skin – I could go on and on about why I don’t like such places. All that said, I was genuinely excited for the thermal baths.
It took me longer to decide which thermal baths to visit than when, where, or how long we would go on our trip. The baths are known for their medicinal powers – thanks to their well-controlled temperatures and the thermal springs that supply their water, which explains why they have been a part of daily life for many Budapest residents for centuries. The baths are not the same ones their ancestors used, but many have kept a similar design and feel even with their clean and modern equipment. To be honest, I didn’t care about the medicinal properties. I cared about the vibe, the idea of wading in hot water while the cold air/raindrops hit my face (we went in early spring), and the idea of pampering myself (because I am not one to indulge in such activities at home). I also had to note which ones were open to women and men at the same time (many have women-only or men-only days), what they required you to bring/wear (towel and swimsuit), cost, and what other services were offered (see the note on pampering). (more…)