A reoccurring theme you’re most likely going to read about quite often in this blog is bad luck. This weekend I went to Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg with my two roommates, Lauren and Haley, then my friend in Rome named Natalie. Our bad luck struck before we had even left Florence. On our way to the train station we stopped in a store called Zuiki to kill a little time. Our bus left at 8 p.m. so at 7:30 p.m. we decided to check out and head to the train station. Lauren went up to the counter to pay, only to find out that she had been pick-pocketed at some point while being in the store. We frantically searched the store and asked several of the sales associates if they had found a wallet but they were absolutely no help. One of the workers didn’t even acknowledge that I was speaking to her and kept walking. Lauren said she thinks she was pick-pocketed when she was in a corner of the store looking at a shirt. One girl was in front of her blocking the way so she couldn’t move and she felt another girl close behind her but didn’t think anything of it because they all had clothes in their hands. Lauren had her wallet, along with her apartment keys attached to it, stuffed in the very bottom of her backpack with a bunch of snacks on top of it thinking it would be safe. I convinced Lauren that she should still come on the trip since she already had paid for transportation and accomadations. She was a really good sport about the entire ordeal because there really is nothing you can do. She immediately called her parents to cancel the cards, contacted our school about the missing keys, and tried calling the police office to file a report. We got on the bus and got settled in for an 11-hour ride to Budapest. The ride wasn’t that bad because by 11:30 p.m. I was passed out even though I felt like a caged dog with my lack of leg room.
We got to Budapest at 8 a.m. and checked into our hotel. We stayed at Kings Hotel, which I would recommend to anyone who stays in Budapest. It wasn’t anything special but it was much nicer than I imagined it would be. It was super close to several restaurant and hip bars. We had a Wi-binge to get back in touch with the world and laid down for about an hour before we left to start our walking tour. I’m definitely glad we did a walking tour because Budapest is so big that I would never have seen half of the city we saw if we wouldn’t have done it. However, our tour guide wasn’t that great. He would tell us an elaborate story then say “just kidding” and corral us to the next spot so we never really got the factual story about important landmarks. We stopped at one of the central markets for some food and I split a Langos with Lauren, which was easily my favorite meal of the entire trip. It was fried bread with sour cream spread on top along with whatever toppings you wanted. It was extremely messy to eat so we probably looked like complete savages to anyone who walked by. It was lightly raining during the entire tour and much colder than Florence so I was glad when it was finally over because it lasted roughly three hours.
On our way back to the hotel we had a basic white girl moment because we found a Starbucks. I’m not a Starbucks lover but I was way too excited about an overpriced caramel macchiato. We made it back to the hotel and got ready to go to one of the Turkish baths. The baths were a giant outdoor hot tub with different pools that had different water temperatures. We stayed in the warmest one and just floated around, which was relaxing after our cold day in the rain. Unfortunately we could only stay for about two hours because we had dinner reservations for that night. I suggest going to a Turkish bath if you’ve never been. It was only about 10 euro and can easily entertain you for a few hours. There were a lot of younger people there so it was easy to meet people to hang out with. We were a little pressed for time so we went to dinner smelling of chlorine and looking scurvy. I couldn’t even tell you the name of where we ate but it was a buffet style that paid 20 euro for all you can eat, all you can drink. I think the meal was worth it. It had many different meats, pastas, desserts, vegetables, and salads. It was a nice change up from the constant pizza or pasta I’ve been eating in Italy. I might have dreams about the chicken breast covered in sweet chili sauce. After dinner we went back to our hotel and got ready to go to Szimpla Kert, which was a super cool ruin pub. The pub was two stories and multiple different rooms. The place was packed and there was a really rowdy crowd of late 20-year-olds from London celebrating a bachelor party that kept us asking us to talk in our ‘American accents’ all night. The groom was dressed in drag and all the other guys were dressed in crazy costumes as well.
The next day we got up and were checked out of the hotel by 7:30 a.m. to catch our bus to Vienna. It was only a little over three hours, which felt like a breeze compared to our drive from the night before. We checked into our hostel and left to go walk around the city. Our hostel was right next to one of the metro and thankfully it was super easy to understand. I am potentially the worst navigator and even I managed to figure it out. Vienna was very different compared to Budapest. It still had the old city feel but it was a lot more modern. We spent majority of the day just wandering around the city. I stopped and had a wiener schnitzel at a food stand. It wasn’t anything spectacular but I can officially say I’ve had a real wiener schnitzel. We went to Demel, which is one of the oldest pastry shops in Vienna and watched a chef decorate chocolate Easter bunnies. We took the metro to the outskirts of town to see the Schoenbruun Palace. The palace itself was absolutely massive. We went on the basic tour and probably only saw a fourth of the entire building. It had a huge garden in the back and a zoo one block over. I think the garden would have been a little more fun to walk through if the flowers were out.
After the tour we were tired from the lack of sleep so we decided to back to the hostel. We laid down for a little bit then went to a Mexican restaurant called Los Mexikas. Our service was god awful. It took over an hour for our food and we could see the workers standing around drinking. The food wasn’t that good but I was also grumpy from being hungry and waiting. On our way home we stopped at a bar called The Travel Shack that was recommended to me by multiple people. The bar had young people from all over the world and tons of different drinks. We were all still so tired from earlier that we only stayed for a few drinks. If I would have been in the mood to go out I think it would have been a really fun place to be.
The next morning we left for Salzburg by 8 a.m. Once again the ride was about three hours. I’ve never watched the Sound of Music but Natalie has and went on a behind the scenes tour of the movie by herself that she said was well worth the 35 euro. Her guide was an 80 year old lady who sang all the songs and made the tour group yodel with her. Lauren, Haley, and I decided to walk around the town and get lunch since we only had a few hours before our bus left. One thing we didn’t anticipate was that literally every shop was closed because it was a Sunday. Instead we hiked up the top of a little mountain to get a view of the Austrian Alps. I can’t even put into words how beautiful the view was. Even the pictures failed to show how pretty it was. We walked long a trail and stared at the mountains for about two hours until it was time to catch our bus to Florence. My favorite place the entire trip was Salzburg because it was so beautiful looking at the mountains and walking through the trails.