A Bit of Budapest & Vienna
New travel rule for myself: Don't try to fit three gorgeous, European cities into three winter days, lest be disappointed when you don't see any of the city in daylight, and miss out on a lot of exploration time. I stupidly tried to fit Budapest, Vienna and Prague into three days and failed miserably, but... I am happy I at least got to visit these cities briefly, because now I know I want to go back to all of them and spend more time in each. I took another early morning flight from London, this time from Stansted Airport. I booked with RyanAir this time, and ignorantly didn't read my entire boarding pass, because apparently non-European citizens have to go to the check-in desk for a visa check, which I missed, but thankfully the nice lady at the boarding desk let me on the flight, as I panicked about this misstep. I arrived in Budapest and figured out my way to get into the main part of the city. I hopped on a bus, which took me to a metro station, and then I got on the coolest metro train I'd ever taken to get into the city. Seriously, I love Budapest's metro trains. Each of them are different and unique. I found my way into the city so I could meet my boyfriend at the Buda Castle, where we agreed to meet. Little did I know that the castle was up on a hill, and that it was not a simple trek to get to the top. Using the promise of a great view at the peak, I huffed and puffed up the pathways and steps and finally made it up, 50 minutes after my original meeting time. Thankfully Levi was waiting patiently for me, so we reunited and set off into the city to find our Airbnb location for the night. My first impression of Budapest was how beautiful it was. The architecture is pretty uniform and while there are a lot of crumbling buildings, the city has a certain flair that I really liked. I definitely want to come back here and spend some time exploring, because after Levi and I got to our accommodation, we were so tired that we collapsed and spent the rest of the night in the flat, drinking wine, talking and then heading to bed very early. The next morning, we walked around for a bit, before heading to the station to catch our train to Vienna. At the station, I tried to buy my ticket, but the machine wasn't showing any options even close to Vienna (or Wien as it is also called). I started to get really frustrated, because we had got to the station early for a reason, and there was no information booth anywhere to buy tickets. Unfortunately we missed the train because I didn't want to get on it if I didn't have a ticket and then have to pay a fine. We decided to go to another station, and that one did have a ticket office, but the line was long to purchase tickets for out-of-country travel, but thankfully I got one in time, and we boarded a 4.5 hour train to Vienna. I was really upset, because we didn't arrive until 6pm, which meant it was dark and allowed little time to be a tourist. Vienna seemed nice from the very small amount of it I saw. The hotel we stayed in was through Airbnb and was quite fancy. Fancy enough to charge 34 euros the next morning for our measly breakfasts (which the listing made seem was included, but oh well, not staying there again). After we arrived and took a taxi to the hotel, we set our stuff down and then walked around for a bit, as far as we could get in an hour or so, but it was very cold and dark, so we headed back to the hotel and vowed to leave early enough the next morning to catch a train which would get us to Prague in time to actually see the city in daylight. The next morning, we took another taxi to the train station, which was super far from the hotel, barely made it in time for the train. Again, the ticket machine was not showing me any Prague options, so I bought a ticket to somewhere else in the Czech Republic and hoped that the ticket inspector would accept it. Well, he came around to check tickets, looked at mine, asked if I spoke German, then told me in broken English that the ticket machine was only for inner-country travel and that he'd let me slide for buying the wrong one, but they might not accept it in the Czech Republic. This revelation was mostly annoying because the wrong ticket I bought cost a lot of money, but thankfully at our first stop, which was a city right inside the Czech border, I ran off the train, and as quickly as possible, found the ticket office, bought a new ticket to Prague, and then jumped back on the train, all within 5 minutes, and then was on the way to our final destination.
Look out for my post on Prague, coming very soon!