Before meeting my friends Stephanie and Brian, who live in Budapest, I didn’t know much about the country of Hungary, besides that it had a funny name.

After learning more about it’s rich history as two separate cities Buda and Pest, hearing about the must see ruin pubs, and finding out about the therapeutic thermal baths, I knew a visit to Budapest would be a must! Fortunately, there was a student-lead group, the Erasmus Student Network, which was coordinating a trip to the city for three days in late March. After more than twelve hours on a hot and crammed bus, we finally made it to our hostel and were welcomed to the lively city!

We spent the first night of our trip exploring the ancient ruin pubs that were full of character and random decorations and spent the next full day on a tour of the city. It was really neat to ride on the first ever subway system (in continental Europe) throughout the city too, since it was so old!

Erasmus friends on the trip

That night most of our group bought tickets to go on an adult boat trip down the Danube (aka a booze cruise). While on the cruise, I was floating from group to group, meeting people and came across Jeff, a fellow American. We got to talking and I learned about his incredible life! He was just about to graduate from med school at Johns Hopkins and was exploring Europe for a month by himself before starting his residency.

The next day my group had a free day so Jeff and I decided to explore more of the city together. We had a delicious lunch (I ordered a pasta filled with pumpkin and spinach topped with goat cheese) and I did my best to show him the condensed version of the tour I had the previous day. We ended the afternoon with some savory gelato (red current flavor for me) while over looking the Danube and made our way to the old town market were we feasted like kings on traditional Hungarian cuisine!

Perfect riverside treat complete with jazz music from the street performer in the background

Sharing our delicious meal with the best homemade lemonade ever

That night, we met up with my friends Brian and Stephanie at another ruin pub and were later introduced to their friends Kaitlyn and Adam. We spent the evening bar hopping from one tavern to the next talking and dancing and partaking in Hungarian socializing at its finest.

Brian, Stephanie, Jeff, me, Kaitlyn, and Adam

The on Sunday, the group I came with was leaving for Poland and I decided to stay a few days longer and travel more with Jeff—just because I could! We had a perfect Sunday relaxing in the thermal spas (which were more or less over-glorified American swimming pools), having snacks in the park, and visiting more of the stunning city.

What was originally a three-day excursion, ended up turning into a week-long adventure just because of friends met along the way! I was so happy to spend more time with Brian and Stephanie and overjoyed to have met three wonderful new friends while on the trip!

Amazing view from the castle hill

Budapest you were: enchanting, lively, lovable

What a treat of a trip!

Lauren

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