Andrea Judd is a master's student in Health Education at the U of U. She is currently abroad with the U of U's Health Promotion & Education program in Vienna, Austria.
This weekend I sipped the best hot chocolate I have ever had, explored a medieval underground labyrinth, wondered at castles and churches of amazing artistic beauty, bathed in the deepest and warmest thermal baths in Budapest, and had an international dance party in an old apartment turned nightclub. I had an amazing weekend exploring the city of Budapest Hungary with the three friends I met on my study abroad to Vienna. We’re all pretty easy-going, goofy girls.. J
If you are seeking to broaden your horizons and have the experience of a lifetime, I say go for it! Come see Budapest while you’re at it.
I ate delicious chicken shish kabob skewers while watching the sun set in front of St Stephan’s Basilica... and the hot chocolate! You absolutely have to try European hot chocolate, it is thick and delicious like pudding, and they have flavors like white chocolate and hazelnut. It was amazing.
The next morning we went to see the inside of St. Stephan’s. It was breathtaking, the picture hardly do it justice; it’s very ornate and intricate, with a very high dome inside and paintings and sculptures line the walls. I stood there for awhile and didn’t want to leave. From there we toured the Hungarian parliament, which is the third largest parliament building in the world; it was a great combination of new technology and a collection of old archeological styles.
Then we went to The Castle District of Budapest. It was so fun and interesting to explore! First we saw St. Matyas’s Temple, but unfortunately it was closed, we couldn’t go in. Then we saw a series of lookout turrets called Fishermen’s Bastion. It was named because the spot was originally assigned to a band of fisherman to use to protect the city, but the actual turrets you see today were constructed in the late 1800s and are used for their scenic view over the city. The Castle District is also home to a lot of unique, local craft booths that make excellent souvenirs. I’d recommend going here to get a memoir of your trip, rather than the shops located in malls in the city itself. There was tons of leather craftsmanship and pottery and jewelry, as well as the usual magnets and postcards. We stopped for a moment to enjoy some drinks and cinnamon bread near the booths, and one of the booth owners played his guitar and sang with us for awhile he was really friendly.
After that we went to the underground labyrinths, which are one of the seven underground wonders of the world. They were built in the Middle Ages, and have served the purpose of being a torture chamber, treasury, wine cellar, and bomb shelter in its history. The labyrinth extends for over a hundred kilometers, but only 1.5 kilometers is available now to be seen by tourists. We saw statues representing Hungarian shamans and drawings of a deer that the Hungarians used to worship! There is also a continuously flowing wine fountain in the labyrinth that pours red wine to symbolize the power and continuity of the Hungarian Empire. There were signs that recommended we not drink the wine... it was sadly pretty rancid smelling. We were given lanterns to use because not all of the labyrinth was well lit. We were all pretty creeped out so we started singing to make the whole thing more light-hearted. It was a really cool experience though. I would say it’s a must see if you plan on traveling to Budapest.
I really recommend Budapest, it is less touristy that Paris or Prague, but it has some very unique sites, and it is absolutely beautiful! If you can, add it to your list and hit some of the places I recommended! It was an amazing weekend.