Tuesday, November 8, 2016

October Trip, Part 2

                     >>> Hello Budapest, Vienna & Salzburg <<<

the crew at the fortress in Salzburg

What an amazing opportunity I had to travel with these dear friends.

15 friends at one point or another.
11 full days.
               8 nationalities.
6 cities.
4 countries.
3 Polskibus trips.
1 train with seats sold separately.
0 severe sicknesses/ lost valuables/ catastrophes. 
I have so much to share about this fall break trip! I collected so many memories, and I have so many new ideas and experiences I never imagined myself possessing. With that said, in order to do the trip justice I've split it into two posts. Here's the second post to outline my time in the last three cities we visited. If you'd like to read my first post about the trip, try this link http://jukess-adventures.blogspot.fr/octobertrip1.html

It would be impossible for me to document all of my days;  instead, I'll focus on highlights and special moments in each city.

Budapest, Hungary

When we got to our hostel to drop off our bags and ask if maybe, just possibly we could go to our rooms early (7:30am), the first receptionist insisted it was not possible until check in at 1pm. Fair enough. We were exhausted after the Polskibus, so it was worth a shot. About twenty minutes later after we had all changed, used the restroom, and locked our luggage, a new receptionist came in for the morning shift.

My friend Natalia asked him for a pen, and he replied with "Do you want me to check if you can go to your rooms now?" Yes, yes we really do. Receptionist #2 gave 12 sleep-deprived international students unexpected naps at 8am. He was a fan favorite for sure. 

We left our hostel around 11am and spent our first day exploring Pest. Budapest is interesting for many reasons, and partially because it used to be two cities Buda and Pest, split by the Danube River, whereas now it is all connected as Budapest. We set up our days to spend day one in Pest, the same side of the river as our hostel. Then we spent majority of our second day in Buda. 


The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest is the third biggest parliament building in the world, and oh my gosh. I'm including pictures we took outside of the parliament building, but mine definitely can't do it justice. Budapest was one of my favorite cities because its just so grand... The unique architectural styles found in Budapest reminded me of my first days in Strasbourg when I looked around and everything took my breathe away. I've become conditioned to a lot of the beautiful architecture in Europe, but Budapest really did take me back to those first days where I just wanted to spin in circles with my eyes wide open so I could maybe take it all in. 
Hungarian Parliament from the south, below it can be seen from the southwest. (I'm still sad blogger can't upload videos because there's a super fun video of Kika spinning on my shoulders)

St. Stephen's Basilica

After seeing parliament, we split for lunch. Some of the girls and I were a little bummed entering a restaurant called Hummus Bar since we would've preferred to find a traditional Hungarian restaurant, but none of them had space for us. The joke was on us because this restaurant was FABULOUS. So fab that we went back the next day with more of our friends. For around five euros we all had huge portions of super yummy foods. After lunch we continued exploring Pest and eventually came upon St. Stephen's Basilica. My friend Natalia was abnormally excited to inform us all that St. Stephen's 'Holy Right Hand' is mummified and can be seen inside the basilica. It's also well known as the most important church in Hungary, and the inside is just beautiful, as you can see here:

Here's a picture of my friends and me on the steps of St. Stephen's

In the afternoon, we met up with one of Joana's Portuguese friends who is studying in Budapest this semester. He led us through Heroes' Square to a really nice park, and we enjoyed the fall colors and each others' company. At the park a few of us broke into a two minute game of tag, and I enjoyed the personal victory in 1) outrunning my friend Aaron and 2) causing him to slip and fall on the slick grass in pursuit. A football or a disc would've made for an even more fun tourism break, but we survived without. 

We headed back to the hostel to shower and get ready for dinner and the night out in Budapest. The first restaurant we tried couldn't accommodate all of us... Surprise surprise... So we ended up grabbing dinner at a burger joint, and I think we all enjoyed this alternative, too. After dinner we headed to Szimpla, which is Budapest's most famous 'ruin bars'. 

I have to say I've never seen anything like Szimpla. If I had to guess I'd say it's three floors, but I swear I have no idea. There was no ebb and flow to this place, it was just complete chaos. Everywhere I turned I was surprised by what I saw... Be it the random decorations or the random people in Halloween costumes (it was solid timing to be in Budapest for Halloween, by the way)... It was quite the experience. We hung out in Szimpla for a bit before our group decided to split. Some people went home to rest up for the next day, and about half of us headed out to Instant, another famous ruin club in Budapest. I went in with an open mind, and it's a good thing I did. I swear Instant was just Szimpla plus a coat check and dancing. We hung out for a while before we decided we should get home to the hostel since the alarms would be ringing early for our next day in Buda. 

Here are pictures from our first afternoon and evening in Budapest:

A day in Buda

Morning came early, and we started in Great Market Hall, which is actually still on the Pest side. Clara and I found cheap espresso, and we enjoyed looking through the different foods and souvenirs that vendors were selling. I was very impressed by the hand painted stacking dolls, and many of the other trinkets. I've made it a rule for myself that I'll only buy souvenirs if it's really a must have for me... My luggage was full coming here, so I really don't have space to bring extra stuff home... That saves my wallet from a lot of these little shops. :) 
Great Market Hall

After the market we walked along the river to meet up with the guys who rode a 17 hour bus to meet us in Budapest for the rest of our trip. 

Together we walked north along the bank to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorializing the Jews who were ordered to remove their shoes before being shot by Arrow Cross Militiamen and falling into the Danube in 1944 and 1945.
Shoes on the Danube Bank
After visiting this memorial, we crossed the Chain Bridge to Buda. We spent the day exploring Buda's beautiful Castle Hill and Old Town. The views of Pest from the top of the hill in Buda were amazing, and we enjoyed our time here. We had fun getting lots of great pictures from all of the outlooks. It's fun traveling with the girls who have great cameras, and we can always count on factoring in an extra 20 minutes for photos. I have to laugh because Natalia took 1500 pictures one weekend in Slovenia, but has actually restrained herself a lot since. Once everyone was getting hungry, we realized it would be easier to head over the bridge back to Pest to eat because everything where we were in Buda was unreasonably priced since we were in a touristy area. 

A view of Parliament to the north from the Chain Bridge
In the evening, most of our group visited The Citadella and saw beautiful views during the sunset, but two friends and I were lame and snuck back  to the hostels for quick naps. In the evening we all hung out and had a good time in the hostel before going back to Instant. Sunday morning's wake up call came early, and we were off to Vienna.
Warning: If you buy a train ticket in some parts of the world, you should check to make sure you are also buying a seat on the train; there can be a difference. The jury was out on whether friends preferred standing on a train or riding a Polskibus. Personally, I choose train because there is the possibility that you will have a comfortable seat compared to the Polski where it's not even a reasonable hope. Three hours of floor-sitting/standing/awkward seat shuffling later, we made it to Vienna. 

Vienna, Austria

What a BEAUTIFUL city!

We spent our first day in Vienna with a tourist map rushing to see each of the numbered landmarks since we only had two days in this crazy city... This tour included the Imperial Palace, the Vienna State Opera, MuseumsQuartier, Michaelerplatz, and so many more. I really enjoyed this day of tourism, but, as beautiful as Vienna's architecture is, it was extremely overwhelming to take it all in. 

For dinner we found a traditional Austrian restaurant that could hold all 13 of us. I ordered a cordon bleu, and I really enjoyed my meal. Many of my friends were less impressed with the schnitzels they ordered, but after such a long day we I think we were too tired to care too much.
Schönbrunn Palace

Our second day in Vienna, we began by visiting Schönbrunn Palace. This palace was magnificent. The gardens were maintained so well, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the park in the middle of such a densely packed city. As we walked through the trails in the woods, I really felt like I was back in Ohio running at Sugarcreek or Wintergarden. The fall colors aren't as much of a thing in the parts of Strasbourg I tend to peruse as they are in Ohio, so this was really fun for me. (Sidenote: I do miss fall at BGSU. Fall on campus is beautiful, and I'm seriously deprived of fall sports.)
3 Portuguese, 2 Brazilian, 1 Colombian, and 1 American try to take a picture.
At least we tried.
After visiting Schönbrunn Palace all together, we split for the rest of the day. We knew we needed to be back to the hostel by 5pm to make our train to Salzburg, so we wanted everyone to be able to make their priority visits with our remaining time. Seven of my friends and I ended up finding a great lunch spot on the way to the Wiener Riesenrad (big ferris wheel). I ate a great zucchini dish with potatoes. Everyone was really impressed by their food at this restaurant, and the lunch special pricing in Vienna is hard to beat. 

We had originally hoped to go to the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Art History Museum). This museum is known to be on the level of the Louvre, the British Museum, and others. We were bummed to see it was closed because it was a Monday. This was frustrating because it was 100% avoidable since it was open on Sunday, but we just didn't plan ahead. My friends from home and I joke that you win some and you lose most, so unfortunately October Trip encountered a loss here. The good thing is by "winning some" my friends and I found that the ferris wheel in Vienna was right beside a fun street carnival/amusement park. This was especially fun to me since it was Halloween. I've never been huge on Halloween Haunts at Cedar Point or King's Island, but it did feel homey to end up at an amusement park on Halloween. Another nice perk of this place was the lack of lines. My friends and I all decided to ride the swings, and it was a memory I think I'll keep for a very long time. As you'll see below, my eight friends and I rode the swings to see a 360 degree view of Vienna at sunset, and it was really perfect.

Once we were off the swings, we had to rush back to the hostel in order to make it to the grocery before getting the bus on time, but we pulled it off. Our train to Salzburg was three hours, and it was easily the most comfortable leg of our whole trip. 

Last Stop: Salzburg, Austria

We arrived to Salzburg in the evening on Monday, and we headed straight for the hostel. The hostel we stayed at was A & O Salzburg Hauptbahnof, and the workers here were super accommodating to us. They gave us towels and sheets for free since we were such a large group even though we were supposed to pay a fee, and they even switched our rooms to fit our friend who had a separate reservation from the other twelve of us. We called Monday an early night since Tuesday was our only day to enjoy Salzburg, and we set the alarms early to begin the next day.
A view of the Fortress in the distance.
As we planned our trip, we questioned whether or not to include Salzburg. I think many of my friends would agree with me that this was a beautiful city, and I'm so glad we did include it. We spent our day exploring the Old Town and enjoying the museums and views from the Hohensalzburg Castle. While I had no part in planning our itinerary for our day in Salzburg, I did message my friend, Codey, who studied abroad in Salzburg of the whole academic year last year. I asked him what we should do during our one day to make sure we weren't missing anything super important, and his recommendations matched my friends' plans exactly. 

I went to Salzburg without expectations. I did not have any idea what to expect, and I was so surprised by this stop. The panoramic views in Salzburg from the fortress were the most amazing I've seen since I've been in Europe. The riverside walks were so peaceful, and the water was so clean. After ten plus days of traveling with so many friends, I was happy to spend the last day in such a relaxed setting. 

Cíntia and I at the fortress
Portuguese princesses and me on the fortress
We all made it back to the hostel with some time to spare, so we enjoyed playing foosball and pool before heading to the bus station. When the time came, we headed over to the station and started on our way. We had a quick change of buses in Munich, and we arrived back in Strasbourg around 2:40am. When we got off the bus we all said very unenthused goodbyes to each other... I was lucky that I had a fairly relaxed Wednesday ahead of me, but some of my friends had exams and other big responsibilities to study/rest up for.

In the Uber home, Cíntia, Clara, Kika, and I joked about detouring to Jimmy's (one of our favorite clubs here in Strasbourg for various reasons including the Portuguese owner and employees), and the Uber driver was all about it... Instead we just blared The Chainsmokers song "Closer", which has become somewhat of an anthem for us, and drove to the previously determined destination, Residence La Marne, to sleep.

(Panorama of me, Francisca, Cintia, Aaron, Ana, Floris, Joana, Tomas, Clara, Benjamin, and Natalia in Budapest)
This trip was one of, if not the most exciting long weeks of my life. I got to experience six new cities with approximately twelve somewhat-new friends. These people have become a family to me, and the time we spent together will always remain so precious to me. I still pinch myself regularly when I remember that this is my life, and I'm so thankful for all of the people who have supported me in preparing for this year along with those who are making it such an amazing experience. 

Obrigada pela leitura! Thanks for reading!

Love, Jules

"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home" - Tyler Knott Gregson

Okay, so this is from Ljubljana with Nati,
 but I just discovered Blogger makes these and I'm pumped

P.S. I've been in Europe for more than two out of my eight months here. More than a quarter of my time has flown by, and I still feel like I just stepped off the plane.

P.S.S. Sorry for the terrible formatting on some of the text... I swear Blogger has a mind of its own.


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