Tuesday, 4 April 2017

05.04.17 // Budapest and Prague

It struck me the other day that I had never really spoken about the holiday that I went on last year with my gal pals?! It seems bizarre as it was such a monumental occasion (y'know first trip away, without parents, as adults and all that!) but nevertheless, I neglected to mention those 10 days. Anyway, it was such an amazing trip, jam packed full of gallivanting around Prague and Budapest, exploring and getting some pretty chic looking instagrams. 
I can't remember exactly what it was that made us decide on Budapest, it was probably something as simple as "so-and-so went there and had a whale of a time, so obvs we will too!" but Budapest was something we very quickly settled on. We quickly realised that for a city break, it was going to be pretty inexpensive, but for our student budgets it seemed a little pricey for little more than a weekend away. That got us thinking that seeing as we were in central europe, we could probably explore another city too for not that much more money, and after a little bit of train journey research (and trawling through the pretty pictures on pinterest, not going to lie) it was decided, Prague it was! 
In terms of prices, if I remember the cost of flights was between £35 and £45 each way, although my two friends and I all shared one suitcase to save on money. The hostels we stayed in (in Budapest it was Wombats and in Prague it was Prague Square) were pretty basic but we didn't pay more than £25 a night so they worked well enough for us; and the train between the two cities was £30 which was surprisingly cheap. In total, we didn't pay more than about £450-£500 each for the 10 days we were away, spending around £15 a day on all our meals and activities. 

Overall, we did so much in those 10 days. With about 4 days in each city, we really didn't want to waste any time so packed each day full of different cultural things, the amount of walking we did was pretty impressive too! Both cities were truly beautiful, and not a single bad thing can be said about any of the places we visited.

We arrived in Budapest in the late afternoon, and we headed straight back out to see the sights and pick out any places we wanted to investigate more over the coming days. Our quest for food gave us a really good chance to explore the city at night.We were up bright and early on the first day, heading up the St Stephen’s Basilica to get the best views of the city. We followed our traditional lunch of goulash with a tour round the Parliament building which was really interesting. That evening, we found a really lovely beer garden where we had a few drinks, I wish I remembered what it was called though as it was a real treasure! The next day was probably the most jam packed in Budapest. Firstly, we headed off to the market, on the tram as obviously we are so full of culture! Then we walked up to the Statue of Liberty, along to the national gallery and then back down and across the chain bridge. In the night we headed out to one of the most well-known ruin bars, Simpla. It was really weird as it was an almost-derelict building, but it was also really cool with a good atmosphere. Pretty much everyone was dancing in the main area, and we met some really nice people in one of the “side bars”. Our final day in Budapest was a lot more relaxed, and luckily for us, it was also the warmest! We walked over to Hero Square, where the Szeynik baths are in the park just behind. The baths were really relaxing, and it was really bizarre as they range in temperature from freezing right up to boiling! On our walk back to the hostel we decided to head back up the Basilica as the views would be better than on the first day, what with the good weather. Sure enough, it was so lovely to take one final look at all the views before heading off the next day.

Arriving in Prague was…interesting. We just assumed that when we got there, there would be loads of information and we’d find the hostel really quickly. We didn’t. Nevertheless, we eventually found it after a couple of hours of wandering! After dumping our suitcases, we headed off in search of dinner, yet again! The hostel was located just a few metres from the main city square, which was amazing, but it did mean that a lot of the restaurants were pretty pricey which is something to bear in mind as often we found ourselves wandering further afield for food. On the first day in Prague, we ended up spending about an hour and a half in the Hamley’s store on the main high-street because we’re all big kids and there were so many things to play with! The funny thing was that the only people we spotted in there were our age, so obviously it’s a big attraction! We spent most of that day just exploring, visiting the John Lennon Wall, and trying to get our bearings. I would totally recommend visiting the wall as it’s such a peaceful place and it’s so amazing to look at. We also trekked up the hill to visit the cathedral on the hill, which was really interesting but because we arrived quite late in the day, we didn’t have long before it closed. The next day was probably one of the highlights of the trip as we went to watch a Sparta Prague match. I have no clue when it comes to football, so was wary of how much I’d enjoy the match, but because of the atmosphere it was so much fun. I would totally recommend catching a match if you can, as the fans really went for it, unveiling new posters and chants every few minutes! The next morning, we ate breakfast at a pancake cafĂ© called Den Noc which had really good reviews online, I didn’t even realise that pancakes could taste so good! There was a charity project running in the main high-street where you could pay to paint a brick which we decided might be fun to do as a group. I got quickly bored so took the opportunity to mooch round the shops whilst my friends continued with their art skills. That day we decided to head to the zoo, and somewhat naively decided to walk there which took us about an hour and a half to 2 hours, that day alone we clocked up 38,000 steps which is a personal record. The zoo had so many animals, but because of the long walk we didn’t have long so rushed round visiting animals like elephants, giraffes, and even a polar bear! I think that it was about £6 to enter as a student which we thought was really good value, although it would have been nicer to spend more time there. There was also swing style ski lift thing there which meant you could see the whole park as you travelled down which was pretty cool. That evening was our last one so we hired a peddle boat on the river to watch the sunset which was so lovely, it was such a different way to see the city and was the perfect end to the trip as we then headed off for our final dinner.
 
Overall I could not recommend a trip like ours enough, it was not only really interesting and fun but so chilled out. I hadn’t really properly done “city breaks” before, and now I think I would definitely do them more often as they need not be too expensive and can be a great way of discovering places you have never visited before. 

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