Part of what I loved about Budapest is how spontaneously we had decided to go there. We had every intention of following up Vienna with a visit to Prague but Budapest was calling.
On a 2-hour train ride from Vienna to Budapest we read up on the city and according to the guides I had read up on, I could expect to be mugged, pick-pocketed, and fall victim to something that looked like the movie Hostel upon my arrival.
Part of our travel strategy was to book cheap hotels close to the train station so that we wouldn’t have to walk far with our backpacks – but the areas around the stations are typically full of hot pavement and a little bit of hustle. Maybe not the most inviting scene to an unfamiliar city. We exchanged our currency, checked into our hotel, showered and studied up on the city map.
It turned out one of the friends we made on the wine & bike tour in Vienna, Suzy, was in Budapest too so we made plans to meet up with her for dinner. We had a gorgeous view of St. Stephen’s Basilica and over beers and dinner we chatted about life, politics and education. Through language barriers we had a fun conversation with a couple of Italian guys sitting next to us. As the sun set we noticed people gathering around the steps of the church with bottles of wine. So we followed suit.
I mentally added “Drink a bottle of Shiraz on the steps of St. Stepehen’s Basilica in Budapest” to my bucket list while at the same time crossing it off. It was that kind of perfect. We exchanged life stories with Suzy until 1AM. My eyes were growing bleary as the street really started coming to life. We said goodbye to our new friend and grabbed a taxi who drove too fast down narrow streets back to our hotel. I leaned my head against the window and let my tired eyes soak up the gorgeous architecture, dilapidated and covered in graffiti, passing by. I was glad to be in Budapest.