Bachelor(Stag) and Bachelorette(Hen) Party Capital? Possibly. The City seems tailor made for them. With just enough tourist sites to fill your day. Open area bars and food truck courts to start your evening. Follow that up with dinner at a hip bougie restaurant. Heading to one of the many clubs through out the city. But wait! As great as that night was and as horrible as you probably feel the following morning, Budapest has you covered with its Turkish bath houses, including one in the center of the city. Recharging you just in time to hit all the cool places you wish you hadn’t passed up the previous night.
Not on a Stag or Hen party? Not a problem, neither were we! I was here with my wife (obviously) and our two friends/ travel companions Mel & Leah. Which meant first stop: Girls Day Out to the Turkish bath house. As described by Siobhan below:
The girls and I navigated the Hungarian train system and made our way to the baths, not sure what to expect. It costs about $14USD to get in which I thought was a bit much. But my expectations were blown out of the water, so to speak. We started the day in the huge outdoor baths, heated to different temperatures. With so many people in them, it was surprisingly clean and minimally chlorinated.
We took our time sampling almost every bath both outside and inside, as well as the multiple saunas.
I’ve only been in one or two saunas before, but they were NOTHING compared to these things. First, they were unbearably hot and second, they were filled with so much steam that I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I couldn’t handle the first one because I had this image in my head about getting lost in the lava-temperature steam and slowly burning to death in the back corner of this Hungarian sauna.
After we made the rounds and came back to the death-by-steam sauna, I decided to stop being such a baby and suck it up. The second time around I took some deep breaths and realized the steam was infused with lemon and mint, which totally cleared out any congestion and felt great on the skin. As long as I stayed near the door, I could finally appreciate why people could spend all day at these baths and come home feeling super relaxed and rejuvenated!
After the Ladies spa day, and some rest from our quick paced travel, we made the best of our Friday evening in the vibrant city. First stop, always, Food! Karavan, a street food lot was the perfect place to start the night.
Karavan was conveniently located next door to an open air/ two story abandoned building turned into a massive bar. it had a very arts district feel. A bit later we wound up at a 90s hip hop n R&B club where the short line was filled with several groups of Hen Parties (aka bachelorette parties).
Fun times! Except for when I was stuck with my camera in hand (from being a tourist and all that). While taking pictures of my wife and friends, I was mistaken for being a club photographer?!? How? No idea! But after the 4th group kept insisting I take their picture yeaaaa, aaaaawkward. Coat/camera check please! Anyhow, a great Friday night that was long over due.
The next day we did what we do best. Walk around the city. Amongst the first stops was The Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall.
A gorgeous multilevel warehouse building with meat, produce, and bakeries on the ground level then food and shop stalls on the upper level. Reminded me of the Ferry Building in San Francisco but more grand. While we ate on the second level we met an an expat married to a local who highly recommended the cake shop hidden away in the corner of the first floor. Nothing fancy, just delicious cake rolls.
Walking off our dessert we crossed the Danube River & headed toward the Castle District.
(probably one of five desserts we had that day)
The beautiful Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion.
Capping off the evening with a wonderful meal at Mazel Tov followed by a few drinks at a large outdoor bar. Budapest proved to be lovely by day and relaxing/ vchill by night.
We made our way back to Vienna by train where we met a cool Ukrainian who had studied at UC Riverside & learned that the train tickets are valid as return tickets for up to three months. Evident by the guy who asked if he could have our tickets nearing the end of our Journey. Apparently he works in Vienna but travel home to Budapest each weekend, which seemed to be a common practice.
We came to Budapest like most, to enjoy the weekend. And that we did. Though the small glimpses of Hungarian culture that we experienced left me wanting more, and only reassured our desire to return for an Eastern European trip sometime in the hopefully near future.