Christmas day started off with a train ride from Vienna to Budapest. After arriving in Budapest, we set out to find our hostel so that we could drop our bags off. On our search, we proceeded to get lost, ask for directions, get lost again but ultimately, arrived at our hostel. We were hungry so we decided to head out for some lunch. Sounds easy right? WRONG!! It was Christmas day and that meant that even McDonald’s was closed in Hungary.
We found a street that was literally lined with every restaurant imaginable and they were all closed. This was like torture to us PCV’s who hadn’t seen most of these cuisines in nine months. We were starving (okay, okay we obviously would have survived without one meal), but nonetheless we were determined to find some food. We finally stumbled upon a cute little Hungarian pub and squeezed into a corner table. We ordered Hungarian Goulash, which was delicious. In the midst of our meal, a five year old boy from a neighboring table, worked up his courage to come over and talk to us. He proceeded to talk our ear off for the next half an hour and he was probably the cutest thing we saw in Budapest!
After our meal we returned to our hostel to meet up with another volunteer and my friend from America!!! It was so amazing to see her and it felt like I was able to have a little piece of home with me for the holidays! She also brought me Oreos, which was an awesome Christmas present. 🙂
Staying in Budapest during Christmas time is magical with all of the lights and decorations. However, you can run into some problems with everything being closed. The stores, a lot of restaurants and attractions were shut down for the 3-4 days around Christmas day. We decided to spend the time wandering the streets and admiring the famous buildings of the city.
The following day, after Starbucks, we walked around the Jewish Quarter and saw the Synagogue.We checked out some more of the tourist attractions in the area and also hit up a Mexican restaurant for some lunch. If you can’t tell, PCV’s are all about eating what we can’t get in Albania. Which is pretty much everything except goat, rice and greek salads.
Budapest is home to Europe’s largest outdoor skating rink. We couldn’t think of a better way to spend one of our afternoon than testing our skills- or lack thereof. We definitely weren’t graceful or fast but we had a blast. And I’m proud to say we all walked away without so much as a scratch!
After skating, we needed a warm and relaxing meal. It was complete with delicious Hungarian food, violin players of of course, wine!
Budapest is only a short ride away from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The following day we took advantage of this and found seats on the morning train.
Bratislava is a beautiful little city and we had no problem staying busy for the day that we were there. After walking around the streets, parks, Parliament building, and churches we settled in for some lunch.
There is a movie called the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Four girls find a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly and amazing things happen because of these “magical pants.” After a movie marathon one day, we all decided to make our own “Sisterhood group”, complete with pants and all. Now, we aren’t superstitious people, but the pants did not let us down on this trip!
For our last evening in town we showered (this is more impressive if you take into consideration that we are PCV’s), got all dressed up and headed to the clubs that make up Budapest. We checked out some very unique bars, got hit on by high schoolers, danced and ran away from creepy guys. We all had fun and it was a great night out with some of my favorite people!
The following morning we all packed our bags and said goodbye to Hungary. My fellow PCV’s headed to the airport so they could head back to Albania. Andrea and I headed to the train station so we could begin our journey to Prague. Three countries later with many wonderful memories, I was excited to see what the rest of vacation would bring!