Our Honeymoon: Budapest
Our honeymoon began with a red eye flight with Delta from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, and then on to Budapest. First comment - international flights are so awesome, especially on Delta. We watched awesome movies they provided (Deadpool 2 had Anthony and I belly laughing!) and they fed us more food than I thought was possible - and it was all delicious! I seriously don't understand why there is still the joke about airplane food, because I would totally like to have those meals available to me all of the time.
First tip, if you are going to Budapest - learn how to use public transportation. It was so incredibly easy, and luckily we figured it out after one small push. When we first got our bags at the airport, we were immediately greeted by workers for the airport shuttle service to take you to your hotel. They told us that a shuttle to take us to the Ritz-Carlton would be only 20-25 minutes, so we shrugged and decided to spend close to $20 for the convenience factor. But after waiting for almost an hour with no shuttle - we wisely asked for our money back.
Annoyed, but trying to make the best out of it, we decide to try to do the city bus instead. (For many people, this is not a big deal, but besides in college when we used city buses in Duluth, MN, there really isn't great public transportation in the suburbs where we live - so this stuff is kind of confusing!) For only $2-3 for both of us - the city bus dropped us off one block from our hotel, and was right on time. Score!
Since Anthony had been traveling so much for work leading up to the wedding and racking up Marriott Rewards points, we scored our free stay at the Ritz-Carlton to start off our honeymoon. It was absolutely gorgeous... and walking in in our jeans and backpacks, we felt so inadequate! Once we hid our slight shame of our appearance, we were blown away by our room (which they set up for our honeymoon with chocolates and rose petals and a handwritten card). We had a great view of St. Stephen's Basilica and the Budapest Eye. We were already exhausted after such a long travel day, so we cleaned ourselves up (and put on some real clothes) to head down to their bar, Deak Street Kitchen, to enjoy a nice meal. Anthony and I had decided early on to save money and be smart about restaurants by ordering one appetizer and one meal to split between the two of us (thanks, tiny tummy). It worked great for us - we enjoyed every bite of the rich food, and if we were ever still hungry, we had a good reason to order dessert.
At Deak Street, we got the most amazing cheese dumplings that were smothered in butter, and a veal shoulder stew. We desperately wanted to go walk around, but both of our eyes felt like they had 30lbs weights attached out our eyelids. We both agreed to sleep and tackle the city the next day.
Jet lag kind of kicked by butt, and I was wide awake at 3:20am, ready to take on the day. After staying awake until 5am, I was convinced I would get Anthony out to go get sunrise pictures... until I finally passed out again until 7am. This time, Anthony was up as well, so we both jumped up to get ready and take on the day in the city.
Yeah, interesting fact. This part of Europe really doesn't do breakfast or getting up before 9am if they can help it. So nothing is open, and the streets are barren. Luckily, we had set ourselves up with a couple of water bottles and protein bars. The only open shop we could find for breakfast was a Starbucks, which I promised myself I would not be that person who got coffee at a Starbucks when overseas! We instead set aside our hunger and decided to start learning the city and our way around.
*Side note - when looking for a husband, don't underestimate the guys who play too many video games. My guy knows how to get out of any dungeon, and those same skills get him to map out confusing city streets in a heartbeat. He was the best to have when out exploring!
On our morning hike around the city, we hit some key landmarks, including:
-The Grand Market (If you come here, bring cash! None of the vendors accept card, and we wished we had been able to buy some inexpensive fruit for breakfast. Also, while the market opens early - only about 1/3 of the vendors are actually open, so if you want the delis and souvenirs, go later in the morning.)
-Walked the bridges of Budapest All of them have their own styles and great views of the Danube.
-Rode the funicular to Buda Castle The views and lack of a huge hike made this so worth it! Once again, we got there really early, so we lucked out on no lines.
-Walked around the outside of Buda Castle This was slightly underwhelming because they were in the process of setting up a huge wine tasting festival, so there were crews everywhere setting up big stands and electrical connections for the party. It was still gorgeous though!
-Explored Buda Hill, which includes gorgeous, old architecture and sightseeing stops like the Fisheman's Bastion and Matthias Church. It was fun to wander around the small, winding streets and see some absolutely gorgeous views. We did not pay to do the city walls here, but we felt that we still got some amazing shots.
-Had a sweet treat at Ruszwurm I had seen this recommended on some websites when researching food people recommended, and we happened to stumble upon their bakery when exploring Buda Hill. We enjoyed the Ruszwurm Cream Cake that they are known for (so rich and yummy) and Anthony got a sour cream and berry tart (also fabulous). After the amount of walking we had already done for the day - we enjoyed every bite!
After getting back to the hotel and resetting for the afternoon, we took the subway up to the Szechenyi Baths. Budapest is known for their geothermal public baths, and Szechenyi was the one the most people recommended to me for being nice and gorgeous for pictures. It was one of the more expensive things we did in Budapest, at about $25/person, but it did not disappoint. The baths were beautiful, and everyone was very respectful and nice there. We dipped around in the indoor baths for a little bit, but then spent the majority of our time outside at the major pools.
One was the chill-out pool, which included chess boards that men were soaking while playing at, and others sitting around chatting. On the other side of the palace like courtyard, was a fun pool, including a center whirlpool that would be spinning 20 people around in the current while we all laughed and screamed. It was a blast! The warm water was great on our sore bodies from traveling and all of the walking we had done, and soaking up the sun while enjoying a cold Borsodi brew was exactly how I wanted to spend a warm afternoon.
In the evening, we had a great lucky moment. We were meandering from our hotel into the city square to find some dinner, and I noticed it was almost sunset. I turned and looked at the Budapest Eye, the giant Ferris wheel, and noticed there wasn't anyone in line. We both ran over there and hopped on for perfect sunset pictures, and one of the best views we could find of St. Stephen's Basilica. When our ride finished, there was a line of over 20 people waiting to hop on after the sun had gone down. Pure luck!
We spent our night getting cheap burgers and walking around the city, soaking in the night life and finding fun spots to check out the next day. The square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica was set up to play old silent movies, and the streets were lined with people watching them. It was a perfect, chill night.
For day two in Budapest, we made a promise we would not leave our room until an acceptable hour since nothing is open. So we got a fruit plate delivered to our room in the morning while I googled fun things we could check out. I found a restaurant called Pagony near Gellert Hill, which we planned to hike, and it said it was open at 9am on their website - perfect! So we made our way over there - it was such a cool space, a renovated hotel kiddie pool area. All of the chairs and tables are in these tiny pools, with beautiful gardens all around!
We made our way in and sat down (we quickly learned in the places we traveled in Europe that unlike in America where you get seated by a host, you just sit down where you see a table you want. It only took a couple times of us awkwardly standing by the front door for us to learn this!) A server made his way over to us to get us drinks... and then let us know that the menu for food isn't actually available until 11am, but that they had one dish they could make - eggs and toast. We were both happy to have more than coffee, and gladly accepted the one dish available.
Our walk up Gellert Hill was tiring. It is a while lot of stairs and hills - but I just kept saying (literally, out loud) "an object in motion, stays in motion." Just keep climbing. This was one of our first experiences where we really realized, the higher you climb - the less tourists, the better views. It's always worth climbing higher when traveling!
We got to see Lady Liberty and the area was lined with cute shops and vendors. We found gorgeous parks and gardens all interconnected - it reminded me of Central Park in New York City. Beautiful, peaceful nature - with a crazy, bustling city just over the hill.
We spent our afternoon hanging out at a pop up park and soaking in more of the city and enjoying the amazing pool at the Ritz-Carlton, and then got ready for one of the best parts of our time in Budapest - a late night Danube cruise! We went through Budapest River Cruise and did the 10pm cruise with two cocktails for each of us, it was about $28/person. It was an hour and a half, and we spent it on the roof of a big river cruise boat. It was absolutely gorgeous seeing all of the buildings lit up from the river, and the service was great. It was one of the biggest highlights of our trip, and I would recommend it to everyone!
Day three in Budapest was a travel day for us, but we had all morning to chill in the city before catching our train. We finally found a more tourist-friendly restaurant to eat some breakfast at (It was Montenegro Gurman.) We picked up some souvenirs, and rode the Budapest Eye again to get some day time pictures and use up some of our extra currency we had.
Our train left from the Kelefold Train Station (which was a whole adventure just getting there). We met two travelers from Belfast that we spent the next 7 hours with as we made our way to Zagreb, Croatia, to start the next phase of our trip.
Thanks for following a long about how Budapest treated us! Have any specific questions about the trip or want recommendations? Leave a comment down below!
Ready to see where we went next? Keep an eye out for the following posts (links will be added when they are published!) General Travel
Croatia, Pt. 1 Croatia, Pt. 2 Santorini