Ok, so I don’t have a house in Budapest, but George Ezra’s song is so damn catchy, it had to be my title. Elaborating on I’M CHRISTOPHER’s blog post about contemplating going to Budapest for Blogging 101, I thought I’d share some of my experiences and pictures from my time in the beautiful Hungarian capital.
Things to Do –
Fisherman’s Bastion – The big beautiful building atop the hill that overlooks the Danube River and the entire city.
Christmas Markets – I was lucky enough to be in Budapest the week after Christmas and they still had their gorgeous markets set up. I spent hours wandering through the maze of them, looking at little knick knacks and buying amazing pastries!
House of Terror – Now a museum, this building was once occupied by the Nazis and then the Soviet Union and tells of the horrors of Hungarian people and their devastating history.
Szechenyi Baths – Beautiful thermal baths with temperatures between 38-40degrees Celsius. My friends and I went at night time (tickets were cheaper after 7pm) and the place was beautiful at night! We drank beer and champagne in the baths and relaxed until close. Definitely the highlight of my time in Budapest.
Prepare – Hungarian is a very interesting and basically indecipherable to the tourist who can only speak English and bad French, so I’d highly recommend researching and saving directions, street names, numbers etc before you arrive.
Be Safe – Like travelling anywhere, safety is important… especially with cabs. There are signs everywhere at the airport urging tourists to book cabs or only use a specific company for your safety.
Pack your walking shoes – Do a walking tour of Budapest. It’s the best, easiest and cheapest way to see all of the sights, learn about the history from a local and capture some amazing photos!
Do you have anything to add to this list? I was only in Budapest for 2 nights so missed out on seeing and doing a few things so let me know what I should do next time in the comments below!
Travelling alone. When you say it, alarm bells seem to sound in peoples minds thinking ‘haven’t you seen Taken?’ Yes I have seen Taken. Great movie. Other things that I get asked about are ‘aren’t you worried you’ll get pick-pocketed/raped/kidnapped/sold/murdered?’ Obviously yes, though not because I’m travelling alone. Just because there’s some messed up people out there, yes, even in Australia. Horrible things can happen to anyone in the world, and I want to make sure I’m out there, living my dream and enjoying myself whilst I can.
So, this is why I think travelling alone is great, and why it’s time to reinvent the stereotypes of young people (especially women) travelling alone.
You have to think for yourself.
I know it seems obvious, but when you’re used to asking your family/friends/google for help or directions, you can find yourself in some interesting situations. The most important thing when making decisions in foreign countries is, trusting your gut instinct, because more often than not, that’s the decision you should go with. Also thinking, would I tell my mum that? For the most part its probably no, and fair enough, we don’t want our mother’s to know every single thing about what we do. Maybe, would my future self/partner/significant other/best friend approve of this? I think this is an important question to ask because travelling alone can be associated with YOLO or living in the moment. And that’s fine, as long as you don’t wake up to find your passport, phone, money stolen and no recollection of the night before. Thinking for yourself is about making smart choices. You can still have exciting and memorable experiences from making smart decisions, you’re just eliminating unnecessary risk, and your safety overseas is definitely a priority.
You have heaps of time to yourself.
Obviously. You’re travelling alone. On those 9 hour bus rides through the EuroTunnel, things can get a bit boring, however, I’ve had some of the best times on long bus and train rides. I remember being on a 5 hour bus ride from Galway to Derry/Londonderry in Ireland. I had my earphones in and my journal out. As I was reflecting on my adventures and staring out the window at the luscious green countryside, I was hit with this overwhelming internal feeling. It’s difficult to explain but everything just makes sense and you feel completely focused on who you are and what you want in life.
You meet sooooo many people!
Because you are by yourself, you’re more likely to put yourself out there and start a conversation in a hostel room (because too much alone time can be, well, lonely). It just starts with a smile a ‘hello’ and ‘where are you from?’ The conversation just roles on from there. You begin to develop your own travelling ‘speech’ as I call it (but I’ll talk about that later).
The best thing about meeting other travellers is that they’re here to explore, just like you. Together, you might go grocery shopping together, on a day trip together or our to a bar together.
I remember on a pub crawl in Dublin (a lot of great things happened in Ireland) I met a great American guy who introduced me to his Danish friends. We partied all night long, explored Dublin the next day, exchanged details and a few months later, visited him in Paris!
I also remember on a walking tour of Budapest, I met three people from Romania but lived in Germany, but were visiting Budapest because the man and woman just got married and the other girl was the maid of honour who was doing her PhD in Budapest. You just meet some really interesting people. You may forget their names, but you’ll always have that one photo of them immortalized in your photo album, reminding you of how awesome some people are.
And the best part is… you don’t need to take any more awkward selfies, you have a new friend to help you out!
You can go where you want to go.
When travelling in a group, with limited time in a city, different people want to see different sights or monuments, which can cause a bit of unnecessary conflict. But when you’re solo, you can hike up the top of Mt. Arthur in Edinburgh, or go to Musée D’Orsay instead of the Lourve in Paris or spend the morning at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, or you can chose to sleep in and catch up on sleep. It’s entirely up to you!
You tend not to spend as much money. (Yay saving money)
When you’re travelling by yourself, you’re completely OK with having 2minute noodles for lunch, dinner and maybe even breakfast sometimes. More money for those art galleries or pub crawls!
You get an awesome workout!
Whether you’ve got a backpack or suitcase, you’re going to have a lot of luggage. Whilst you may be getting callouses on your hands and you feel like you can’t take one more step up those long cobblestone paths, think of the awesome workout you’re getting! You don’t need to spend any money on a gym because you’ve got no one to help you out with your luggage. However, when dealing with train station steps, it can be quite difficult. When I was carrying suitcases through on the Tube, people always offer to help with your luggage. Poor things. Don’t know what they’re getting themselves in for when they pick it up. Or if you’re tank enough by now, you can carry it yourself.
And not to forget all the walking you do over cities! I wish I carried a pedometer with me sometimes because cities like London and Paris which are HUGE… you would definitely rack up heaps of kilometres.
Your confidence and ‘I can do anything’ attitude multiplies by a million.
You can navigate through London’s Tube system and order food in French and can understand what the waiter says (in French), you feel on top of the world! And rightfully so, all the skills you’ve learnt over your travels are paying off and things are running smoothly.
I think we should carry this awesome mindset beyond our travels and into our everyday lives. Imagine if you’re swamped by uni work (OK I don’t have to imagine it, that’s my reality right now), and you just think, ‘pft, if I can navigate the streets of Amsterdam at night, I can do this 2000 word essay.’ Yes, being in Amsterdam is way cooler than writing an essay on globalization, but that mindset can help you achieve anything you want! Take advantage of it!
Not convinced yet?
I’ve had some amazing holidays with my friends and they’ve been absolutely incredible! However, when you’re new to a country or your friend is saving their money, I totally encourage you to jet set alone!
I promise it will be one of the most scary, exciting, nerve racking, limit pushing, incredible experiences of your life!
Any questions/comments/queries please let me know!
‘Hey, yea I’m from (insert country here).’
‘Oh really? I want to go there one day.’
‘Ah well add me and when you come hit me up.’
I’ve had this conversation so many times. And my facebook friends keep growing in number as you meet people from everywhere across the globe. There are so many places that I do wish to visit in the world and yes if you’ll let me crash on your lounge and take me out to your favourite bar, let’s do it. However, I just recently got to thinking about all the people you meet through your travels, you might have an amazing time with them, and you may never see them again, but you’ll always see their status updates and keep up to date on their life.
Twenty years ago, you would’ve had a great time out with some cool people, went your separate ways, never saw them again, and they may cross your mind a few years later as you reminisce.
But now due to facebook, a night out turns into a virtual connection lasting a lifetime.
And it gets me thinking about what it really means to be someone’s friend, beyond a friendship request.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love scrolling down my news feed and seeing things in all different languages, with pictures from the snow, mountains or beaches. And I love the fact that at some point in our two very different lives, our paths crossed, we smiled at each other and formed a bond. The unfortunate thing really is, I still know everything that’s happening to you in your life, but I genuinely don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. And you’ll see what’s happening in this person’s life for years to come.
So how do you cut people out of your life now? You really can’t. Whereas 20 years ago, if you outgrew someone, that was it. But now it’s all so personal and people take great offence to being blocked or deleted. Life definitely needs those buttons to filter out those people who are no good for you, but does it have to be so public? It’s such a relief when you do realise that you don’t need certain people in your life and you can cut them out, but until then your friend requests keep rolling in.
Some of my closest friends that I have the fondest memories with , are people that you share intimate moments with. Whether it’s telling them your secrets, going on an adventure together, staying up until 3am just talking about nothing in particular, calling them when you’re in trouble and just someone to hug and who makes you feel at home. And it’s just a bonus if you can crash on their lounge when you go traveling to their home country. But it’s those relationships that last beyond that one night out, you message them, have your little inside jokes, have numerous photos with them and you’re already planning when you can see eachother again. You don’t necessarily have to talk everyday or skype once a week, but when you do talk, it’s like it was yesterday. And when you talk, you’re not telling them everything you’ve done for the past month, instead just having a general conversation filled with laughter that doesn’t really make sense.
It’s crazy how social media has changed friendships especially within the travel community, because back in the day if you really wanted to keep in touch with someone special, you would get their home address, print off some pictures, write a letter and send it across the world which could take weeks. But now everything is instantaneous. Night out. Take some photos. Have a good chat. Discuss future travel plans. ‘Oh add me.’ And done, you’re now friends for life, where that friendship once wouldn’t have exceeded that night.
And I’m not saying in any way that this is a bad thing at all, it’s fantastic. 20 years ago it would’ve been impossible to have pen pals from Brazil, America, Canada, Scotland, France, Sweden, China… all at the same time. I am so thankful for all the incredible people I’ve met in my travels from all across the world, and I probably follow you on facebook, Instagram or twitter. I wish you all of the best in your lives and really do hope I get to crash on your lounge at some point and my offer is always there, if you’re ever in Australia, please do come a visit. Until then keep the status updates, snapchats, tweets and posts coming.
p.s (everyone in these photos are truly incredible! we shared some amazing times together and these photos are just a small reminder of the memories i’ll carry with my for life).