The week before this last one, February 17-26, was my first school break–which when in Europe/studying abroad means a 10 day vacation! Myself and four other girls on my program headed to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest for the long week. Warning for the length of this post! You will learn about every single thing I ate and saw 🙂
Friday morning I woke up around 7:15 to take a shower and get ready for the big travel day ahead of me. Started to pack my stuff, then got nervous about the size of my carry on bag and whether it would make height and weight requirements for budget airlines — so I invested in a little duffle bag from Monoprix instead to set that worry to rest. I think it will serve me well for the rest of my travels! We went to the Marseille airport, layover in Brussels, then finally got to Berlin. A loooong day of travel, but I napped a little bit and read so it was okay. Went to the hostel once we got here and then got kebab downtown, which is apparently something Berlin is known for! Then we walked along the main road in the dark to see the major monuments. Brandenburg Gate was beautiful at night. For our first hostel, we ended up in a room of 10 people, both men and women. We were the 5 lucky women, but we went to sleep without knowing who would be in our presence when we woke up, which was definitely a little strange.
Woke up fairly early, and got our day going. It was so weird trying to get ready with all of these random guys around us. My friend Patricia was CRACKING me up because she kept making comments about what they were like because she could see them all — “literally that one is wearing no pants! The guy across — where is his body?! Jeans and no shirt to bed. Don’t think he even has any luggage.” I tried so hard not to die laughing and wake them up. We went to the Market in the morning near our hostel (Amstel House Hostel in northwest Berlin — not really in the city) and I was adventurous and got a poppyseed (that I was chocolate lol) cake-like thing. It was really good but really rich. Then we walked in the area of the Tiergarden; my other friends had to make their respective tours at 10am so I had a little time to wander around the garden by myself. I feel like it would be absolutely beautiful in the spring and summer; it was still pretty now but there were no leaves to be seen! After walking through there a little bit, I headed out to meet for my cycling tour at 11am. I walked through Potsdammer Platz (which I found out later was like the commercial/new retail area) to Alexanderplatz. I got a milkchaffee at one of their fast food chains, Yorma’s. Oh my goodness, it was unbelievable — so frothy and light! Like Spain has cafe con lèche, France has cafe au lait, Germany has milkchaffee. Delicious. I headed to the meeting spot by the iconic Berlin TV Tower, and automatically went to go stand with a group of girls. Turns out they were from the US and are studying abroad together in Prague! What are the odds. One girl was even really close friends with a girl in my sorority back at Vandy. They said they gave me props for going on this tour solo and not just doing what my friends wanted to do, and I decided to ice myself a little credit too! I was still a little disappointed right away that i had clung onto other American girls instead of trying to meet other people. But oh well, still learning! The tour was great; our tour guide was named Neil and from England. He said he has lived in Berlin for 11 years, and loves it for its outdoor lifestyle and open-mindedness–he was getting sick of the U.K. because he thought everyone there was become too apathetic. He was a great tour guide, and made me think that it is totally possible to make a good life out of doing something like that; work is never the only think that matters. Anyway, we saw a bunch of churches, the main Alexanderplatz and TV Tower, Homboldt University and the site of the book burnings during the communist era, the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s Bunker, the oldest streetlight in Europe in Alexanderplatz, the Jewish memorial and Tiergarden again, the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Cathedral and museum island. He was telling us so many stories about how things would happen at one point in time and then either repeat itself, or some sort of ironic thing would happen (ex. the man who said the quote about burning books had his books burned later, the same company that was hired to paint the Jewish memorial so it wouldn’t get painted with graffiti was the company who manufactured the gas at concentration camps). I think one thing that I love about Berlin is that they know they have made mistakes in the past, but they’re always moving forward and trying to make reparations for what they have done. I ate lunch with a girl named Katie from the larger Prague group; she was from Florida and a student at Ole Miss. We had pizza together and talked about why we chose to study abroad, etc. It was really fun to talk to someone new. We finished up the last leg of the bike tour, then the rest of the Vandy group I’m with told me to meet them at a communist history/Cold War museum called the Museum in der Kulturbrauerei. So I headed out after to meet them there. But classic me with my absolutely atrocious sense of direction got myself to the wrong metro stop — it should have only taken me 6 minutes but instead I was on the metro for over an hour. My grievances with the Berlin metro include the fact that it is impossible to see places and stops from the map they provide/you have to compare stops with other maps of places, and the distance between each is deceiving! So, I stead of going to U Eberswalder I ended up at U Elserwaeder (in district C if you’re familiar with Berlin). At first I was so mad at myself because I was missing out on time during our one and only full day in Berlin, but then I decided to practice mindfulness and let it go — I think it ended up being good practice for me. (Side note: the metro is so scary! It’s not straight and not all the cars are attached so it tosses and turns a lot when you are on it). I got the museum and it was closing in 10 minutes, but I got to see a few things from the communist era before we had to leave which was interesting. We headed to East Side Gallery after, which was really cool. A lot of very artistic graffiti on the longest piece of the Berlin Wall that is still standing. My favorite, unfortunately extremely relevant, quote: “World is too small for walls.” We stayed in East Berlin for the night (known as the hipster/trendy area nowadays) and had Schnitzel for the first time at Scheers Schnitzel. It was a really cute, Nashville-esque joint where you ordered at the counter. I got chili cheese Schnitzel with Gouda, and two of my friends got vegetarian Schnitzel, so it was definitely their variations on the common German dish! We wanted to get a drink after so we decided to walk around a little bit in Friedrichshain. We ended up at an art gallery called Urban Spree which had a lot of art books for sale; it also looked like a really innovative beer garden in the summer! At the next bar, I got a Hefeweizen beer, and I knew what it was! (Thanks Bareburger). Bar #2 was right down the street and had a bunch of things hanging off its ceilings, including basketballs, alligators, and Ed Hardy signs. Bar #3 was back in the more hidden area where there were many clubs and a ton of graffiti. The “bouncer” asked us how old we were, and my two friends who were 20 were barely allowed in: “just this once!” he said. Patricia, Elizabeth, and I went in. It was almost in a warehouse-type building, with the DJ playing actually really good techno music. We left around 45 minutes later and took the trek back from southeast Berlin to the northwest area where our hostel was.
Woke up bright and early (literally 6:30am) with Patricia to try and accompany Elizabeth to the Reichstag building tour; but without having a reservation, it was full and we didn’t get in. Instead we went to Alexanderplatz to see everything more up close, and to search for German potato breakfast things that I had heard about. We tried to go up in one hotel to get a comparable view, but it wasn’t open until 12pm, way after we would have been gone. In order to find the potato things, I asked one woman in a tourist shop if she knew where to find them, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Then I tried to ask her where to find a Berliner doughnut, and she literally said DUNKIN DONUTS. I’m sorry but do you know where I’m from?! A place where there is Dunkin on EVERY street corner! A little frustrating. Anyway, I got a postcard then we walked around the Cathedral again before getting a little breakfast to go from what seemed like a popular bakery fast food place. I had the best pretzel of my life with pumpkin seeds and cheese on top. We headed back to the hostel and packed up for our loooong bus ride. 4.5 hours but it didn’t seem that long! I watched a documentary on the Berlin Wall, tried to read my French book but kept falling asleep, then slept. I was really hungry so ate McDonalds (when we stopped…my first purchase in the Czech Republic!). The hostel was super nice and we had our own room. Walked around Letna Park to see the skyline, and got a delicious pilsner beer up on the hill. Then we walked into Mala Strana area to check it out. I lead everyone to Cafe Savoy, a great place I read about. I got Ovocné knedlíky, which were dumplings with strawberries inside and then cheese curds! They were really different but good; I’m glad I step outside of my comfort zone in times like these when I can (says the girl who ate McDonalds earlier in the day…). Had a traditional Czech caramel puff pastry thing for dessert. Walked back, took a shower, caught up on these journal entries, now time for bed!!
Actually slept in a little bit for once, woke up around 8:30. Got my stuff together then went to enjoy my free breakfast alone in the kitchen; I wanted to try and get my day organized as the designated “planner” in Prague. Left the hostel at 9:40 for our free tour, meeting in city center. I forgot my sunglasses and luckily the sun was out, but it was definitely really bright! We had our free tour around the old city, Jewish quarter, etc. which was really enlightening. Sam was right, there is SO much history in Prague, a lot of which is really sad. Our tour guide, Ian from Brazil who wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but did a fine job, told us about the scams for tourists in Prague. Too late — I already selected an exchange rate through the ATM that was way lower than I should have gotten. We met this really nice couple from Vienna. After the tour we grabbed some lunch in the main square. I had some sort of sausage which was absolutely delicious, with some rye toast and ketchup and mustard. After lunch we decided to go to the castle lookout perch, which had an amazing view of the city. We hiked up a bunch of stairs to the top and took some pictures. After that, we kept going to the castle district where we saw St. Vitus Cathedral, the Golden Lane, the Palace, and a basilica there. It was so funny, even though the Palace was really cold for some reason it felt really homey. After the little tour and poking into shops in the old district, we decided to go to the John Lennon wall. It was really underwhelming. I was sad because someone had written something about Trump on the wall, and I didn’t even want to think about his presence being elsewhere. It also was just disheartening because when Sam was there, I’m pretty sure the wall said “all you need is <3” somewhere, and now it was nowhere to be found. I know it is only a small wall of graffiti, but it’s crazy how things change that quickly. After the Lennon wall we went to the Hemingway Bar, which was the really fancy cocktail bar with amazing drinks. They were truly professionals making them–Patricia and I split a drink called Fairy Tale and it came out in an apparatus with its own tap to pour it out of! It was really fun, and the guys who were working there were incredibly nice. They took out coats and everything, and checked up on us quite a few times. Then we headed to Lokál, a place I read about online that had really good reviews about their traditional Czech food. I had beef goulash (which was literally described as the cheek of the cow, so weird) and potato dumplings with a small Pilsner Urquell (the beer that is literally EVERYWHERE here). The dumplings were also all you can eat which was definitely dangerous — I probably had 10 :O We went back to the hostel for around an hour and a half, where we decided to just chill and regroup a little bit. We were debating between going out and just hanging out a little bit or going to see jazz music, but we decided to live it up and do it anyway. We went to Roxy, a club here, but there was no one on the dance floor. So, instead we went to a James Dean bar right around the corner to get a drink. It was a really cute place, and we sat upstairs eating their free delicious chips and talking with each other about funny stories in life, etc. It was fun. Once we got back to the hostel, I made friends with the night desk attendant named David. He was from Portugal and was so so sweet. We were talking about his experiences there working at the front desk, and my visit to Lisbon soon! Then he said if we wanted to get a drink tonight or tomorrow we know where we can find him. Makes me happy to know it’s possible to easily make friends most places you go!
We woke up a little bit later than yesterday because we were out, and I was ready and antsy to get the day started. We decided to just walk around new town again across the river and go to little shops. I bought a pair of earrings, we went to the gingerbread “museum” (which was just another store) then decided to head back to old town once it started raining. I originally had wanted to go to the mini Eiffel Tower on Petrín hill, which is a lookout tower, but then because of the rain and the cloudiness we decided against it. Once we got back to old town we went into St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful. It had a gorgeous glass chandelier right when you enter, and I loved the pulpit as well. Afterwards, we went to go inside the clock tower; at breakfast I had heard girls at the hostel talking about how they were going into the tower today so I added it to my list. I got the combined ticket of the clock tower and a tour of the town hall. In our little 20 minute break before the tower tour at 1, we had a quick bite. I went back to the little market square where people were selling Czech food, and I had THE BEST cabbage and potatoes with ham. We had the cutest little old tour guide who would always get a little confused and forget what he was talking about. But super nice! Once the tour finished, we climbed to the top of the tower and had the most INCREDIBLE view I have ever seen–of Prague, the houses, the churches, the castle, the square…it was so beautiful and the perfect sunny day at that point (over the course of our days in Prague it kept getting rainy and then sunny again). Afterwards I had a little snack of fresh chips on a stick; they were probably some of the best chips I’ve had because they were so fresh, and so pretty spiraled on a stick! We decided to go to the Jewish Quarter and do the museums there before they closed at 4:30; it was 3:00. I got to see the beautiful Spanish Synagogue, another Synagogue where the murdered Jewish people from Prague’s name were listed, which was so shocking. The walls were covered with names painted in red and black ink; it looked like a book was written on the walls. In the same Synagogue, there was an exhibit of children’s work whose lives were also lost. One woman gave them materials to get their feelings out, and it was sad to see the drawings they did. We also saw the cemetery, where tombstones were all over, all different sizes falling over and with a ton of writing. I couldn’t imagine getting buried that way — like no one even cared. We also saw some old artifacts and learned about the death process in the Jewish religion in the Ceremonial Hall. Afterwards we tried the Czech specialty (though we also found it in Budapest later on…?), Tredeltnik, or chimney cake! This stand looked popular so we decided to try it; ice cream inside and all. We stopped in a really cute gingerbread cookie store that looked like a little house, but I was all dessert-ed out haha (that’s saying something). We went back to the hostel to take a little break, and I finished searching for plans to do tonight and finally took a nap. I passed out and slept through my alarm until 7:20. I realized I had to exchange money so went to go do that with Audrey, then we walked like 30 minutes to Radost FX. It was a vegetarian restaurant that also turns into a club at night, and happened to be where Rihanna shot her “don’t stop the music” music video. How cool is that?!? I got a delicious “Coconut Lips” drink with coconut, cream, and strawberry. Came in a martini glass but if was nonalcoholic and also delicious. I also had a ratatouille and bean burrito — it was so nice to have Mexican food again, I was craving it for sure. After that we headed to U Sudu, a really cool underground maze bar that Matt Fallon had suggested to me. After we left were walking to a place called Chapeau Rouge to get our dance on when we heard American music in the “Dubliner” bar, so our friend Elizabeth, who had spent a Maymester in Ireland, wanted to go in. I had no problem staying, so suggested we get another drink. Then this guy came over to us and goes “Are you wells?” And I laughed because I thought he was asking us if we were WELL, but then he said “Irish? Scottish? English?” so we knew he meant WELSH. We decided to sit with them for a little bit, they were all Czech. I asked one of the guys (the cute one who first started talking to us) if he liked the waitress because he was flirting with her, and he said he was from the U.K. I didn’t really believe him, so he decided to call her over. Right when she got there he put his left arm around her but then literally in slow motion leaned back in his chair, tipping his seat back and absolutely falling right to the floor. I was crying laughing; it was so freaking funny. We ended up saying by to them and going to Chapeau Rouge to dance a little bit. Earlier in the day on the tower we met 2 guys from Canada, and we saw them again at the bar which was so crazy to me; in this city where we don’t know that much about we ended up at the same place (though maybe that can be attributed to all being tourists). But what are the odds!! Maybe I should move to Canada?! Bedtime finally.
Grabbed all of my stuff really quickly and tried to pack fast for our bus at 8:30am. When we got to Vienna, we tried to run really fast to the hostel (we stayed at Hostel Ruthensteiner in the southeast of the city) to check in and try to make the 2:30 tour, even though we ate at the little mall/shopping center for lunch. I had pizza which was a nice change haha. When we got to the hostel I was pleasantly surprised by the hostel–we had our own room AND an ensuite bathroom. I thought it would be another situation with a lot a lot of people and guys too, but we lucked out. We decided to skip the tour that day so we took the metro to MuseumsQuatier to decide what to do for the afternoon. We ended up going to the art history museum and looking around for 2.5 hours. My friend Yididia and I got an audio guide for the museum which made it a lot easier to understand some of the works. As we were looking at one of them and lying down on the stairs, my friend Lottice from Vandy jumped in front of me and surprised me! She had gotten my message on Facebook about being at the “history” museum in Vienna and guessed that it was the art one (theres also a natural history one). Too funny! We made plans to meet up later. After the art museum, we took the metro to dinner. The Vienna subway system was SO much easier to use once we figured it out–but it still took a few minutes. I had spaetzle finally from the restaurant across the river, the Danube. It was called Schöne Perle. It was fun but at one point literally all of us were on our phones because we had free wifi; it’s so funny how that works, after we have been together for so long we finally want to check our phones when we have the chance. I left a little early and took the metro by myself to meet up with Lottice. We went to Cafe Central, one of her favorite cafes in Berlon and actually one that my roommate Clee recommended to me too. I had an Altenbergtorte (dark, white, and milk chocolate mouse cake) and a delicious apple juice with seltzer drink that people seem to drink here a lot. It was a little watered down, but good. She was the first person I had seen since leaving that was from Vandy and I was friends with before, and it was nice to talk to her about our experiences with both of our study abroad programs. Lottice gave me the grand tour of Vienna at nighttime, and showed me around to all of these different iconic buildings and statues. It was dark so I couldn’t see that well, but it was gorgeous at night. We also went to the government building and the ice skating rink that they have in winter, just to look around. She showed me Otto von Bismarck’s art piece that he designed, that people now call “the golden cabbage.” Went home and directly to bed!
First full day in Vienna! We woke up pretty early, around 7:00, to get to Schönnbrun Palace at a good time to get everything done on time. I got a suggestion from the front desk of the hostel for a bakery nearby called Bäckerei Josef Schrott, where I got a Krapfen (basically a Viennese doughnut with apricot marmalade filling) and it was delishhh. Kind of just like a regular doughnut, but since coming to Europe I’ve been obsessed with jams, jellies, and marmalades of all flavors so it was a nice little treat. I also had a pretzel breadstick which was tangy and delicious as well. We did the 40 room tour of Schönnbrun, which was really cool. I honestly thought it would be a little more extravagant but it was interesting to hear about all of the history. They provided an audio guide so we got the background of the Habsbourg family and their reign. I want to learn more about them still, got to add it to the list of documentaries I now want to see! We went to the gardens as well as to the top of the hill overlooking the gardens, which was pretty but I think in the summer or when the trees and flowers are in bloom it will be even more incredible. Afterwards we went to the Naschtmarket, and walked along the vendors. We finally decided to get a falafel for lunch, and I had to get a coffee to keep me awake for the afternoon, so we stopped and got one at a chain place in the market as well . After that we went to the walking tour; our guide, Marie, was an art history student here who talked really fast. Really cute girl, but sometimes it was hard to absorb all of the information because she was spitting it out at a mile a minute pace! She took us through all of the different historical buildings, and we ended up in the young bar-like district. Throughout the tour we had kind of started talking to another group of 3 girls who were studying abroad in Lille, France at the Sciences Po there, and Yididia and Elizabeth had to interview them for a class they were taking so we were all hanging back after the tour. Liza was from Canada, (don’t remember her name) was from Greece, and Nora was from Mexico. We ended up getting a beer with them after the tour for happy hour at a random bar there called Philosophe, and talking about all of our experiences studying abroad and in our respective countries. We had also stayed at the same hostel in Berlin and all gone to Prague before Vienna, so we already had that in common! It was such a fun and spontaneous little meeting, and definitely one of the highlights of my trip. We had to leave a little early to make the opera that we were going to, so we had to say goodbye after like an hour and a half–but it flew by! We went to dinner then hurried to the opera after. We saw “La Vie Bohème” in the basement of a cathedral, because of course the night we were in Vienna the yearly Opera Ball was at the main opera house and the night before they did not perform anything to prepare, so we couldn’t get standing room only tickets for really cheaply like we had heard about other students doing. It was called “Opera in the Krypts.” It was my first opera, and honestly thank goodness I had seen Rent or I think I would have been so confused as to what was going on — and I understood a few words in Italian, which also helped — I was proud of myself for that! The show was good but honestly it just seemed like a production put on by a high school, where the actors’ families would be there supporting them. It was a good experience though, I’m glad we went.
Time for Budapest! We went to the same bakery as last night and I got an apple-y jam filled croissant and another little pretzel thing as last time. It took us awhile to get to the bus station, and our bus left at 11am. On the bus ride I avoided the wifi, and slept a little bit but was really uncomfortable. We took FlixBus to Budapest; it smelled weird and was really crowded, which was unfortunate because it was also the most “expensive” one! We got to Prague around 2:30 then headed to the air Bnb, which was a really fun, modern, place with two lofted beds and a huge bathroom. We wanted to go to House of Terror, the communism museum, but it was cutting it close on time for the Budapest baths. We decided to just go to the baths, and on the way there stopped at a pizza place that was delicious and flour-y and dough-y called Bellozzo in the Oktagon area right down the street from our place. Yididia and I split a pizza and I got a latte to keep me awake. We had changed our money over to the Hungarian currency–it was so weird using 1000 bills! Then we made our way to the biggest bath in Budapest. At first I thought it was kind of like a glorified swimming pool, and I wasn’t walking around with flip flops on so it kind of grossed me out, but I just figured I should get over it so I did. We started in the indoor pools and waded around for a little bit, then went into the sauna and ice baths. It reminded me of the spa in Montreal that we went to for Sam’s bachelorette party, where there was a whole circuit of different water temperatures to cleanse your body and remove the toxins or whatever. It smelled kind of weird inside, but I got used to it. The most interesting part was how different everyone was when we were there we saw people of all different ages, shapes and sizes, and very different attire as well (there were plenty of 70 year old men wearing speedos). It was really interesting to people watch, and made me feel better about my bikini body too, after all the bread and dessert I have been eating! Then we went to the outdoor pools–the best of them all. They were huuuuge swimming-pool like baths of water inside the ring of building around them. We started in the bath closest to us, which was the cooler one (but still very warm). We waded around for a little bit, and joined in the whirlpool of people in the center who were being thrown around by the jets! After being there for an hour or so we went to the hot tub bath, where the water was warm and wonderful. There was steam coming out of it it was so hot! I think there were easily 300 people in both pools, just enjoying their Friday night. By the end I think we had stayed there for about 2-3 hours just talking and wading in the luxurious pools. At first I thought they were not all they have been cracked up to be, but I quickly changed my mind. We took the scary metro back home (it was so so old that it would completely stop between stops then race forward super fast when it started back up again). My friends headed to dinner but I had to finish something, so I said I’d meet them out. We came upon a bar called Illegal, which had couches and tables all in one room, and had a really living-room/homey type feeling to it. I wish we had bars in the US like they do in Europe–they’re all so unique and have their own style. When we were getting a drink we starting talking to this guy, and found out that he was working for a software company in Budapest and stayed here after studying in Spain for a year during college. He was originally from LA in the States (which I definitely would not have guessed). I have so much respect for ex-Pats like that; how did he just pick everything up and move? Would I ever be able to do something like that? We left to get a change of scenery and walked along a huge strip of bars that was packed with SO many people of different ages just hanging out together and drinking at 1 in the morning. We ended up at a place called Gozsdu Mana on that street, and went to the basement where they said a live band was playing. Honestly I really liked the music even though it was in Hungarian and I didn’t understand any of it haha.
Today we woke up early to go make it to the 10:30 Budapest tour. We went to a tour in the morning — the tour guide was from Budapest and really sweet. We left a little early because we wanted to go to the Great Market Hall, which was going to close at 2pm because we had heard great things about it. We walked around, I tried some sort of chocolate-coconut-log type thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of, in addition to little potato scones that were DELICIOUS — and they were only like .20 each! Then we went to the 2nd floor, which is where Lottice recommended that we get the fried pizza-like specialty called Lángos. I got feta, pepperoni, sauce, peppers…basically everything on it after navigating through the giant crowds up there. It was huuuuge but really good–I ate it all to get my money’s worth! Before I even started eating, I spilled some of the aioli sauce or whatever on my purse because we were standing at a table and eating casually. A guy next to me offered me a napkin, and I gladly accepted. He asked if I was American, and we started talking a little bit. His wife was there too; they were Americans from the DC area who are working in London for the next 3 years; he works for the state department and she works for Coke. They were in Budapest for the weekend with the husband’s siblings as a surprise for his birthday! They were SUCH a nice couple, and we were just shooting the shit for a little while, talking about our experiences abroad and their experiences traveling. The woman lived in Montpellier with her friend who was studying abroad one summer, just because she was adventurous and she wanted to…adventure is out there! They told us to just spend time walking around and getting to know the city, and gave us a great map that they had gotten from the front desk at their hotel that pointed out all the major sights to see in Budapest. After lunch we were debating about going to the House of Terror museum about communism in Budapest, but Elizabeth suggested we just walk around and get a better feel for the city since it was a BEAUTIFUL day. We started walking and went to the Dohány Street Synagogue, one of the biggest in Europe. We didn’t go inside but it was beautiful. Then we went to St. Stephen’s Basilica. We saw the relic of his hand that was mummified, then went to the top to see the view of Budapest. It was also amazing, but nothing could beat Prague. Around 4:15 we went to the famous chocolate cake place/café called Café Gerbeaud to peek in, and then ended up going to the other side of the river across the chain bridge as the sun was setting. Afterwards we saw the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, and Matthias Church when we were in the castle district. We tried to go to the oldest café in Budapest, Ruszwurm Cukrászda, to get some of their famous dobos cake, but they didn’t have room then were closing before we could sit. A little bummed about that. When we were leaving we saw Matthias church again, and oh my goodness was it one of the most beautiful things ever. I was shocked how it became nighttime so fast, and the sky was the most royal blue I think I have ever seen in my life. What a great moment, even though I was freezing and didn’t want to walk all the way home….we decided to take the tram for $1 along the Danube River like our tour guide suggested, for a really cheap tour that was just as good as the cruise you would get on the boats, and I’m glad we did it. Though it wasn’t the best view, it took us all the way to the Parliament building, which was completely lit up, and we hadn’t seen during our journeys that day. Afterwards we went home to relax for about 40 minutes. I tried to take a nap, and got like 10 minutes in. We planned to come back after our 8:30 dinner reservations at M. Restaurant, so we headed over there. I got the duck with sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts with a glass of white house wine and the most delicious lava cake — all for $14 USD. Freaking incredible, such a tasty treat! The five of us also had some great conversation during that dinner. We figured it was already getting too late, so we didn’t end up going home to change and ended up going to the bar we tried to get into last night. Szimpla Kert. It was HUGE, and everything there was so mismatched and random, but the decor was really cool. I had a beer and sat down at the makeshift table where the seat was a snow board! We stayed out kind of late and then hit the hay for an early wake up call the next morning.
The day to go home 😦 actually really sad to be leaving. I think I could have kept this up for a lot longer without getting tired of it! Woke up around 6:30 just to make sure I had all of my belongs together. The transportation was a little rough this morning — I kept falling asleep on the metro and the bus (we had to do both; took like an hour to get to the airport) because I went to bed so late last night. Once we got to the airport it was pretty low key and went without any glitches even though we were flying RyanAir. After we got through security we had breakfast at at a little bistro; I had EGGS! Haven’t had them in so long. Read a little bit, slept a little bit, and started the Italian movie La vita è bella, which I finished once we were stuck in Paris-Beauvais terminal for 3.5 hours 😮 . It went smoothly after that, though we had quite the journey of metros, busses, and trains!