We still had our car leaving Münich so we drove to the airport and after finding satellite parking, it was another 30 minutes of walking around with our suitcases in and out of parking garages before we found an Lufthansa stewardess who told us we had to take the elevator (which was broken) up to the train that would take us to the airport. When we finally got to the terminal, the line was so long to get through security that we were reminding ourselves why we always leave so early for the airport.
Even if it means spending the whole day in the airport. The 2 flights to Budapest themselves weren’t long, but we had a 4 hour layover in Cologne, Germany which meant we didn’t arrive to Budapest until well after dinner time.
Our bags took awhile to arrive, but luckily the cab service was super organized, by far the most efficient we’ve seen in any city we’ve visited!
We waited in a short line that led to a window with an attendant to whom we gave the number of people in our group, number of bags and the address we were going to, she printed out a ticket with a number on it and we waited less than 3 minutes before our cab pulled up. The curb attendant took his job very seriously and had us squeezed into a van in no time but not before he chastised Chuck for trying to help load our heavy bags into the van. I got snapped at for trying to fold the seat down by the cab driver and Owen made a loud commentary on how the cab driver snapped at me, only to have me remind O that he likely spoke English and could hear what he’d just said. We were all tired and a little edgy I think. During the next 20 minutes of the ride, the driver was going off in rapid Hungarian to someone he’d called on speaker phone and after 15 minutes of none of us speaking (we could all tell he was pretty p*ssed off, I think we were too scared to) I started wondering if maybe he was venting to his friend about us. Stupid Americans. Lol. Not a minute later, Owen leaned over and whispered to me “I think he’s talking about us. I think he heard me and now he’s mad at me and telling his friend about what I said..” Luckily by then, I’d had some time to think about paranoid we were being. There’s no way he’d care enough about what an 11 year old kid said to his Mom to call his friend and vent for 30 minutes about it. And besides that was assuming he even spoke English. So funny how wild our imagination can get. In the end, he was a very nice man and he even ended up grabbing Wells who had jumped off the curb and into the street as a car whizzed by!
We had some trouble finding our apartment building. In Hungary, the addresses look different and it was dark and we were tired and hungry and…..just as I felt an argument coming on between one or a few of us about which direction to go, Wells had wandered down the street entering the code on every keypad he saw until he ultimately had luck and a door opened. We were so happy to get into our apartment with all of our bags and out of the way of the loud partiers spilling out of the bars and onto the street.
We literally threw our bags down and headed out to find a late dinner. It was a cute little Italian restaurant that was still open and cooked the yummiest meal for us. Honestly, I’m pretty sure anything we’d ordered would have been wonderful.
It’s always a bit strange to arrive to a new city at night because you miss a lot of it’s uniqueness that you can’t get a feel for until daylight. But, the view from our apartment of St. Peter’s Cathedral was so pretty..
And this awesome map on the wall of our apartment with tons of great recommendations… if only we’d had time to visit all these spots!
We’d been researching some good breakfast spots in Budapest over the last several weeks and had read about Stika, ranked #1 on Offbeat Budapest, a site that ranks all things Budapest each year. Luckily we got one of the last tables! It did not disappoint.
Not only did it have a really cool modern vibe and walls of plants, they were playing great music too!
The breakfast menu was huge, it was hard to decide, so many choices!
I chose the “Budapest Visitor’s breakfast” which had a little of everything. My favorite was the little smoky sausages, honey mustard and the pickled onions.. and Chuck’s omelette with similarly awesome sausage…
We’ve gotten really into oat milk lattes lately and these were perfect. Charlie and Wells’ pancakes were stacked high and spilling over with warm peanut butter, fresh raspberry coulis, bananas and whipped maple butter. Mmmmm….
Owen, who has recently gotten into smoothie bowls opted for that and a cinnamon roll (which he said was one of the best ever) but the smoothie bowl was a little too “healthy tasting” for him.. but it was ok because he ended up finishing off Wells’ PB pancakes.
After breakfast, we strolled through the neighborhood admiring all of the cool graffiti..
After filling our bellies, we hit the grocery store for a few essentials and then headed back to our apartment to unpack and spend the afternoon resting before heading to Sziget music fest that night…
When planning our trip, Chuck found that the annual Sziget festival would be in Budapest in August, when we’d be in the same neck of the woods! And it just so happened that one of our very favorite bands, The National (who we saw in London last summer) would be headlining one of the nights that we’d be there! And Foo Fighters 2 nights later! With as many concerts as Chuck has logged in his life, he had never seen Dave Grohl live and this would be the perfect chance to show the boys what a real professional rock ‘n’ roll concert would be like…
Our first night at Sziget was Saturday night, the mid-way point of this week long festival on an island sitting in the middle of the Danube River where people come and camp for the week and performances are around the clock 24/7 for 7 days straight….
I’m pretty sure music festivals all around the world have a lot of things in common, but there was something really cool about being here in central Europe with people from all different countries, mostly young, but some older too!
But to be seeing all of this in a completely new country, surrounded by those speaking a predominantly brand new language was fascinating.
There was a circus tent, a wedding tent, a giant ferris wheel, bungee jumping, tattoo tents, African woman offering to braid your hair, all kinds of awesome artisan crafts being sold, even a guy riding a giant mechanical camel!
and tons of tons of tents of probably super smelly early 20 somethings…
I don’t care how young and care-free I was, I don’t think I could sleep on the ground outside in the heat for an entire week with slim prospects for a shower.. we read somewhere that the showers were only open to those staying for more than 3 days on the Island 🙂
The icing on the cake to this whole music fest thing was that the Twenty-One Pilots would be playing the 2nd night we were planning to go… the same band that Wells asked us to go see the summer that he turned 4. I still remember sitting in our car in the Charleston Convention Center parking lot waiting on Chuck to pick up his race packet at the convention center and the marquee up above us announced that Twenty-One Pilots was coming that summer. He was still in his carseat in the back seat and asked if we could go for his birthday.
The first night he was so excited to see Macklemore’s set… and when he played “Glorious”, which he’d been hoping for all evening, he just got into it. It’s like the music takes over his little body…
Even Owen was enraptured as well. He stood like this for easily 2 hours without moving…
The National played late into the evening, we started to lose our guys after awhile, but ice cream and cell phones always buy some time…
and all on a (very) warm summer night under the trees all lit up like this…
The next day, it was time to get out and see some of the city itself!
We visited St. Stephen’s cathedral, in the center of Pest which was much newer than most we’ve visited. It’s construction started in 1851 and was originally designed by Jósef Hild, a great Hungarian architect known for his classicist style, but it’s design and construction was overseen by 2 additional architects before it was completed in 1905!
Such a beautiful church inside… big rounded domes with burgundy marble and gold- plated moulding, it definitely seemed more modern- it’s really only just over 100 years old!
lots of art and candelabras mounted on the walls…
It definitely had a more modern feel to it and I was surprised to read later that it’s construction was started in 1851 and it was finished and consecrated to Saint Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian State and a saint of the Hungarian Catholic church in 1898. He was not the first patron saint the church was devoted to however… the cathedral was originally built in dedication to Saint Lipót, an Austrian saint. But history was changing and the new Hungarian state wanted a place of worship dedicated to their founder. It is said that his “incorruptible” right hand is kept in the reliquary of the church.
Next, we crossed the chain bridge, which crosses the Danube River and was the first stone bridge to ever connect Pest side with hilly-er Buda side..
Off in the distance, the Parliament building….
View of Castle Hill on Buda side…
Exploring castle hill –)
St. Mathias’ church with its’ beautiful colored-tile roof..
And Fisherman’s Bastion- as part of the Buda Castle, it’s known for it’s views of Budapest. It’s walls have been said to originally have been protected by fisherman in the middle ages who lived below in “Fishtown”. It is one of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Looking back over at Pest side and Parliament buliding.. the views of the Danube river are actually a UNESCO world heritage site in and of themselves! Unfortunately, the Fisherman’s Bastion was badly damaged during WWII, but there has been much focus on rebuilding, as it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Budapest and a source of great revenue for the city.
A quick stop at Bloom Coffee shop and then we headed back over to Pest. On our way, we found this water fountain that was irresistible to W… so off went his shoes and in he went…
…but things ended quickly when his foot got caught down in the grate and he cut his foot pretty badly… of course I had no bandaids or wipes.. and it was Sunday which meant all the pharmacies nearby were closed…
It was only a small miracle that got us through the 1.5 mile walk home….poor fella was miserable the rest of the afternoon and really couldn’t walk much, so dinner at home…
The next morning, C and I grabbed coffee the morning at this little coffee shop, My Little Melbourne Brew Bar… the “cinnamon rolls” were actually “walnut rolls” and the coffee was just OK but I always love these little words of wisdom about my favorite beverage of all time.
We had really wanted to go to a Turkish Bath while we were in Hungary, but from what we could read, it was hard to tell if it was acceptable to bring kids or not….all the sites advised against letting children under 14 swim in the thermal pools and there were even a bath or two that had areas restricted to men only… though thankfully not many. After researching, we chose to go to Szechenyi Furdo… one of the biggest and most touristy, but also best for kids.
After waiting in line to grab our tickets, we were given a locker, which was more like a tiny room where we could leave our things and lock the door with a wristband..
It was PACKED. We didn’t time it right and got there right at 11:30 (the baths open at 6 am!) and so we found a spot on the ground but in the shade to set up our towels. The first pool we went in was quite warm- 27 degrees celsius (80 deg F) and in the 36 degree celsius (97 deg F) afternoon sun, this made for feeling pretty hot!
Later in the afternoon, the boys stayed back and C and I walked around and into some shops in the neighborhood. We found a great Greek fast and fresh type restaurant and grabbed a quick bite before heading home for an early night. We were all really tired and the next night it was back to Sziget, so we needed our sleep!
Our last day in Budapest, we took a river cruise along the Danube.
This world-famous Parliament is home to the Hungarian National Assembly and the Prime Minister’s office and is MASSIVE! It took 1000 workers working daily for 17 years to complete it. There are 700 rooms and the stairs together are 27 kilometers in length! The building itself was built of soft limestone that has miraculously survived bombing in WW2 but unfortunately often requires constructive repair…
Most of the time we’d been in Budapest, it was just too hot to eat some of the more traditional heavier Hungarian dishes, like goulash or meat stew, vegetable soups, chicken paprikash, etc. but the last day, we wanted to find something regional for lunch, so we ate at this really cute and delicious restaurant near our apartment called Matka.
We tried goulash and Paprika chicken filled egg-rolls. The boys had chicken soup. A super cute place!
Before we went back to our apartment to pack up, we had to find a magnet for Budapest. We have made it a tradition to find one from every new place we visit to put on our fridge. As we are rounding into our 3rd year, It’s getting pretty tacky!
This place had LOTS to pick from…
That night, our last night in Budapest, we went back to Sziget. Twenty One Pilots were opening for Foo Fighters, so W was super excited!
It was much cooler that evening too and though there were predictions for storms and high winds, but that didn’t stop 90,000 people from coming out on this last night of Sziget.
My favorite part of this entire festival was just how many nationalities were represented! People were walking around draped in their country’s own flag. Look at all these flags! We saw Brazil, South Africa, Israel, Paraguay, and tons more. It was fun to see how many different ones we could find.
After dinner, the boys got square donuts from The Donut Box before we went to watch the Foo Fighters.
We’d seen a few of these donut stores around the city, but it was usually when we were passing by on the tram, or in a cab, so we were excited to find them!
I love this pic. It’s pretty blurry, but I loved the reflection behind W and the moon up above. In the end, the wind and rain never came and it was a beautiful night.
The rain finally came the next morning, but we were off and on our way to Vienna!