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Real Friends. A Story of Budapest, Hungary.

Bundled up for Budapest! 
Only real friends willingly board a bus with you at 8:00 pm that doesn't arrive to its destination until 5:00 am.  (Take an overnight bus, they said. It won't be that bad, they said.) Easy for "them" to say when they didn't have a complete stranger sleeping on them for an hour. ( I know what you're thinking- "Paige, why didn't you just move him off of your shoulder?" I TRIED. The man was OUT.)  Zach saw what was happening and he giggled from the seat behind us.  "I was ready to fight him if he tried anything" were his comforting words to me after the fact.  He is a real friend for sure.

After sleeping beauty woke up, we had a quick layover in Brno until about 1:00 am.  This time was spent facetiming home and drinking McDonald's hot chocolate.

The 1:00 am to 5:00 am leg of the journey was character-building time.  I found out a lot about myself on this journey.  For example, I know now that I can't sleep on a bus headed to Hungary surrounded by complete strangers. I also learned that my friends can sleep through anything.

Real friends follow you when you get dropped off a bus stop at 5:00 am in a foreign city and have NO CLUE where to go. (Bus stations are notorious for being in sketchy parts of town and this bus stop was no exception.)  My vote was to pick a street and start walking.  The more distance from this neighborhood the better.  Jenny and my "spidey senses" picked the road most traveled (and with the most street lamps) and no one had any better ideas.  We were off! Backpacking in Budapest.  What could go wrong?

I think (hope) the sheer eeriness of the streets was just due to the fact it was so early in the morning. (But the fog? I have seen this exact scary movie scene. Spoiler alert: it doesn't end well for the ignorant tourists).  Paranoid and exhausted, we marched on.  As we inched closer to the city, metal bars stopped appearing on storefronts and my tensed shoulders relaxed a little. As the sun rose, so did our spirits.

Real friends walk with you for two hours until you find the hostel.  At this point I accepted my position as "watch dog" of the group because they were out like little lamps in the lounge area at the hostel until our room was available. I told you- they can sleep through anything!
Did I mention it was Saint Patrick's Day? Cheers! 

Refreshed and hungry, we ventured out in the rain.  We found a cute bistro and ordered some traditional Hungarian! (Or so we thought. None of us would have know the difference if it wasn't.)
I don't which pun is worse: "Czech it out" or "Are you Hungary?" 

A classic picture of Faviola with her eyes closed

After our long day of traveling, we were more than eager to head to the thermal pools! The group went to a spa that had three outdoor pools and fifteen indoor thermal pools.  It was an interesting experience.  You know that feeling you have when you are in a huge bathtub with 300 strangers? Oh, you don't? Well you haven't been in a thermal bath then!  It was two extremes.  My feet were burning and my nose was frozen! However, it is fun to say I have been and I don't regret going.  Real friends make sure you don't stay in your comfort zone!   

Thanks Paige for the braids! 
Real friends agree to wear face tattoos

Even though we weren't in Ireland, we still managed to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day by visiting a few Irish pubs along the way! 
Real friends brave the pouring rain to celebrate with you. 

Jack Doyle's Pub, Budapest 
Hungarian mass on Sunday morning was in a beautiful church! Real friends keep you focused when tourists are taking pictures in the middle of the first reading.


The next item on our docket was to visit the second largest synagogue in the world. (Our tour guide rolled his eyes when he told us New York City was home to the largest one).  There were breathtaking memorials to the Hungarian victims of the Holocaust.  This one is an upside down menorah made to resemble a weeping willow tree with names of victims on the leaves.  The two columns symbolize where the two tablets of the ten commandments should be, but weren't present during the time of suffering. Real friends help you realize all that you have to be thankful for.

Such a moving memorial 

Inside of the synagogue

More Hungarian food was in order and then exploring! Budapest has amazing buildings that sparkle at night.  We were running from building to building just to see what gorgeous one would come into view next. Real friends stand in the middle of the street to warn you of oncoming traffic so you don't get hit while snapping a picture. 
The gang on the Chain Bridge and the Royal Palace in the background 

This is only the side of the parliament building! 

Jenny and me in front of the parliament building

Real friends take a million pictures so we don't forget a thing
Our time in Budapest was running out and we had to say goodbye to one of our new favorite cities. The food was amazing.  The city was easy to navigate.  Our hostel (Wombat Hostel) was a great experience.  I would go back to Budapest in a heartbeat. (Maybe in the summer next time so it doesn't snow and rain the whole time, but Nebraska prepared us for this trip).
And of course having real friends with you makes everything better
Thanks Zach for the mouse removal! 

Faviola and I let our mini fridge air-out over the weekend on our patio. I brought it back in when we returned from Budapest.  The group was chatting in our room when Jenny gasped. "Okay he is really cute but there is a mouse under your desk!" I also learned on this trip that Faviola doesn't handle mice in her room well. She ran to go get Zach and he came in wielding a bucket and a dust pan. Jenny and I had barricaded the little guy in the corner with suitcases and chairs.  Finally after ten or so minutes of chasing him around, Zach scooped him up with a folder and plopped him in the bucket. (Jenny and Fav both left the room for the part where we let him go... out of the second floor window.. don't worry, he bounced at the bottom and scurried off)! Real friends help you play real-life mouse trap.
ps check the fridge for mice before you bring it back inside



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