So as I recovered from my relaxing weekend in the south of Italy, I had to come to terms with the fact that crunch time was approaching. I slept very little amounts this week, due to my Art Theory paper, Art Gallery paper and the student art exhibition occurring. I went to classes and would then immediately started doing homework again. The outside world barely saw the likes of me, and vice versa. I also knew I had to get a lot done before I left for Budapest that Friday where I would I get to meet up with Hendrix friends.
That Tuesday, my study abroad program invited to take us for dinner at Eataly, just a little outside of Rome. However, only one of my roommates and I signed up so our directors drove us here and we were lots of goodies to eat. These outings always make me thankful I chose to work through CIS. Eataly was created out of super interesting circumstances; basically it is like a whole foods with restaurant as well. From my Italian language class we also learned that it was created in response to McDonald’s coming to Italy for the first time during the 80s. Eataly emphasizes quality ingredients and taking time back into food. Food is such a large part of Italian culture that highlights values completely opposite from what “fast food” does. Enjoying the process, meal and company is all what Eataly tries to bring back to everyday culture and life. After learning about it and its manifesto from Italian class, I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit it with the three others I went with. Our directors bought us delicious things, such as this amazing touch bread with organic butter and slices of anchovies topped on it. I had always turned away from those stinky guys, but when in Italy, or Eataly, you know you are really having the best of the best. I felt so blessed to have our program directors guide us and show us their true Italian perspective on food and customs while I was in Rome.
Come Thursday, I was thankful that I had decided to fly out of Rome on Friday instead of that evening. I felt very relaxed my entire traveling time to Hungary, a rare occurrence in my time abroad. I have really grown hating to fly, most of it is just waiting your turn. Once I finally landed in Budapest, I had to find out how to get to the hostel my friends and I were staying at and planned to meet up at. The only challenging aspect of this was the EXTREME language barrier and the different currency. My advice to fellow and future students abroad is to take advantage of those information booths. I have utilized them in almost every city I travelled to, and each time I’m happy I did. The man was able to tell the bus and metros I needed to take exactly in order to get where I needed. Something I know I would have struggled with. So after the long bus ride with multiple stops that drove me through Hungarian countryside, and the many metro stops I had to make, I found the hostel (I did walk around in a complete circle once before finding it though – the people at the TGI Friday’s were definitely amused).
Getting to the hostel, meant seeing Taylor Pate, one of the Hendrix pals I was getting to see during this excursion, and I was too excited. After a long hug, I loved getting to meet her friends that she made during her time in the Czech Republic and jumping into my first experience at a hostel while abroad. Despite the interesting shower situation and our bizarre roommate with terribly smelly shoes, I was pleasantly surprised about how nice it was considering the cheap cost!!
With the four of us and the city of Budapest awaiting, we started to explore. It was nice having Taylor be our little guide, since she had visited once prior. The weather was incomparable, I think we were all ready for some sun. The weird and cool vibe Budapest put off instantly attracted me. I was overjoyed to get to experience this, especially with one of my closest friends and future roommate Tay. Her friends were super nice as well – seeming pretty surreal that we were just goofing around in such an amazing European city.
Something I learned that was pretty amazing is that the city is actually divided by the Danube in two parts, Buda and Pest. Supposedly, at least my friends said that Buda is much nicer and there is more to do on it. I really would liked to have taken the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular, but sadly it was still under restoration… The walk up the beautiful Castle Hill was equally enjoyable, getting to see how klutzy both Taylor and I truly are. At the top, we all talked and took pictures of the incredible views the city had to offer. The Fisherman’s Bastion and the church created for St. Mathias both have amazing views of the Buda half of the Hungarian capital. After a glass of wine on the Bastion (a terrace) restaurant, we explored more of Pest and more of Buda.
Later that night also allowed me to see another Hendrix friend, Mitch, and enjoy his company all while being in an amazing European city. After the group of us failed to find the ruin bars, we went to bed rather late, waking up early to enjoy more of our weekend together. I’m so happy I got to see all these incredible things with some of my closest friends, a change from what I had been feeling back in Rome. After a relaxing brunch, we strolled around the city, seeing many of the important sites. I loved the how the historical architecture and design blended so nicely with the modern aesthetic that covers Budapest, how well meshed the two styles are made it so much cooler and weirder.
That Saturday night, as we headed to the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Pools, I had another ATM card scare, where it almost decided to steal my card. Thankfully, to the whole lot of us, that pesky piece of plastic I so heavily relied on was given back to me. With only minor disagreement with the lady in the ticket booth, eventually we all made it on the tram and headed to the bathes. In such a strange part of town, near the renowned zoo and bizarre circus setup, we walked inside the large yellowstone building. The baths were so warm and beautiful. They had two baths, and one lap swimming pool. The warmest bath was the best and most popular to all attendees. This was probably my favorite part of the trip, just because of how relaxing it was. We even managed to start talking with an Irish family, who had a son in high school that really wanted to go to an American college. They were so hilarious with such charming accents. I nearly could have fallen asleep in the bathes after a while.
My last day in Budapest involved saying sad and early goodbyes to most of our group, Taylor and the other two friends not from Hendrix. I knew I would miss her, but I was so happy I got to spend this time here together. I couldn’t and still can’t wait to live with her on Front Street. So the rest of the day, Mitch and I roamed around more Budapest, dropping by Heroe’s Square and then randomly coming upon part of the Spring Festival. Tons of food stands and amusement rides decked out this section of the park. We loved how fortuitous we were upon finding this place, especially since I was able to get a huge bag of gummies! Not only was it wonderful to walk around this incredibly perfect city, I loved how much Mitch and I were able to spend some time alone talking together. I was particularly excited to see the Shoes on the Danube monument to the Holocaust, the bronze shoes on the side of the river. It was pretty small, and I could how many could miss it. Going home was sad, but I was pretty sore from how much walking we did the past couple of days. Besides, I still had more papers to work on.