PART 4 OF #TBT/#FBF SERIES: Kraków + Budapest
St. Mary’s Basilica, Kraków
So sorry for the delay in posts! I just got back from a two week Eurotrip (Italy + Poland + Spain) and I got so caught up with the whole process of planning, packing, actually traveling & being on vacation, and then getting over my jet lag that I fell behind on my posts. I am back and hoping to get you all caught up soon. The OCD part of me is telling me to blog in chronological order and continue with my #TBT/#FBF series from my Eurotrip last year.
So here’s where we left off…
Day 3: Arriving in Kraków
View from our hotel room
We left Berlin at 11 am, eating rest stop sandwiches along the way, and arrived in Kraków around 5 pm. We stayed at a wonderful apartment near the main market square–the area felt so quaint and charming as we went out to explore the area. It was a pretty busy area, but not overwhelmingly so–it just felt like this pretty little city was alive and ready to be experienced. We had dinner by the main square–pierogi & fried porkchop–and ended the night with an evening stroll.
Fried Porkchop + Pierogi
Day 4: More Polish Delights
We woke up and had the most perfect breakfast at a place called Good Time. We then went on to visit the Wawel Cathedral near the Wawel Castle (which we did not go in, sadly). Afterwards, we headed to the Jagiellonian University, where Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II studied, and joined a tour group. We ended the day with dinner in Kazimierz–I got pierogi (again, but I mean, when in Poland) and Lukasz had steak.
Our delicious, filling breakfast
Day 5: No Words
We left Kraków in the morning and visited Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau on our way to Budapest. It was a very solemn, draining experience–I could not believe I was at the sites where such atrocities took place, the source of so many individuals’ pain and suffering. It was hard to process actually being at the sites of such a dark, low point in human history–and it really was not that long ago and such atrocities are still taking place in this day and age. I did not take many pictures that day–I just tried to take it in quietly. I am still trying to process it…
Day 5 continued: Being Buda-Pests
We passed through Slovakia briefly on the way to Budapest–mainly to stop to buy a vignette, a permit sticker that you must display on your windshield or risk getting fined. This was the first time I had heard about these vignettes, but turns out that many European countries require them on certain roads. The whole drive took about 6.5 hours from Kraków and we arrived in Budapest at midnight. We had trouble locating the hotel because it actually turned out to be an apartment–the reception was in a different building. A nice girl came down to escort us to the apartment a couple of blocks away and give us the key. We felt guilty for arriving so late, but had we known the reception was in a different building we would have tried to get there earlier. Luckily, she was very kind and accomodating–we would book the same apartment again.
Day 6: So Hungary
We arrived so late the night before and had no idea how/where/whether or not we needed to pay for the parking spot right outside the building, so we just left the car thinking it would be okay for a couple of hours. Sadly, luck was not on our side that night because we woke up to a nice surprise on our car–they had placed a boot on it! They really do not mess around with parking tickets–they force you to call someone to have the boot removed. So, seeing as we already had a boot on our car and were starving, we just decided to leave the car (What were they going to do–put a 2nd boot on it?). We figured it would be fine for a bit longer–plus we were starving and had no Hungarian money.
Throw some Forints on it
We left the area to find an ATM (which proved impossible to find in the immediate area surrounding the hotel, so we ended up exchanging money) and grab some cheap brunch (we got lured into a fancy restaurant that turned out to be not so cheap). On the plus side, the food was delicious and I was stuffed (I ordered some sort of lamb stew)–the down side was that I overate and ended up feeling sick for most of the day. I really cannot eat huge amounts before extensive amounts of physical activity (we ended up walking A LOT that day)–the fact that we stuffed ourselves at a KFC the day before probably did not help either…
Though I felt sick, we still managed to see a good chunk of Budapest:
- Castle Hill (Varhegy)
- Buda Royal Palace (also known as Buda Castle or Budavári Palota)
- Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd)
- Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere)
Plus, we got the car boot removed at the end of the day. We hoped that the next day would be a much better day, but I mean #shithappens when you travel.
A Much An Exponentially Better Day
We had better luck with the metro than we did the day before (the reason we walked so much was because two of the metro stops we went to were closed and/or the ticket machines were broken and/or there was nobody present in the booths to sell us tickets nor give us information, and the one worker we tried to communicate with did not speak English). A lot of factors worked against us the day before, but we took it a lot easier that day because I only had one location I absolutely needed to see: the Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok). Visiting markets is one of my absolute favorite parts of traveling to new cities.
The Central Market Hall is apparently one of the largest market halls in Europe and it is stocked with fruits, veggies, meats, souvenirs, etc. After reading the reviews on TripAdvisor, I came to this market with one goal in mind: try lángos. Lángos is a deep fried flat bread, which can be eaten plain or with toppings. Obviously, we opted for toppings–I went for the more traditional toppings with sour cream, cheese & ham; Lukasz went all out and basically ordered the lángos equivalent of a combination pizza. His tasted so much better–he always seems to have better luck when he orders!
Lukasz’s glorious lángos
Afterwards, we headed to the famous Turkish Baths. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of immersing myself in hot water because the temperature in Budapest was already boiling hot (it felt like it was at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit–probably closer to 100–the whole time we were in Budapest). However, I was pleasantly surprised–there were multiple pools with different temperatures of water to suit every level of heat tolerance. The whole experience turned out to be a lot of fun and rather relaxing. Again, Lukasz was winning with the ideas.
Check back next week for the next post in this series!