I'm back from our second break, and it already seems like Budapest was so long ago. Thankfully I am good about journalizing on the trains so I can look back and remember all the little details from the trip. We left for Budapest last Thursday, after finishing up our third class. I'm going to miss our teacher from Marketing Research but not the course; it was probably one of the most boring classes I've ever taken. Nice to know I'm a marketing major and all these marketing classes are so unappealing haha. I think it has a lot to do with the professors teaching here not putting a huge emphasis on the courses but on travel, so when we do have class it's just summarizing the book.
So we left for Zurich around 7pm, in order to make our connecting night train for Budapest. The trip already started off eventful on this short leg of the trip- this drunk guy kept stumbling in and out of our car. He stopped by the four of us & could tell we were American. He started yelling in English (of what English he knew) and would go "Shh...I kill you. Give me money". In his accent it sounded like "Shh...I keel yew." so it was hard to keep a straight face. I don't think he understood what he was saying because we told him we didn't have any money and he said he didn't want any. Everything got a bit confusing and finally after 10 minutes of this the train worker finally came over. I was surprised he didn't come sooner because the drunk guy was being very loud, but we had to call him over in order for him to take any action. We were very relieved to get to Zurich and away from the crazy man. Our night train was a pleasant surprise. We knew we had a private room for the four of us, but we didn't know we would be getting water bottles before bed and breakfast in the morning. It was a little weird that the train steward came to get our sheets at 9am when the train didn't arrive in Budapest until 11:30am. Whitney, Katherine and I were already awake but Sarah was not and had a lovely wake up call from the man pulling the sheets off her bed while she lay in it. Other than that we were all happy we got about 6-7 hours of sleep, which was more than I expected for a night train.
When we got off the train we found a map and found out the currency exchange rate. We knew so little about the country before coming, we weren't even sure which language they spoke (it's Hungarian fyi). The exchange rate is about 245 forinths to 1 USD, so it was fun going to the ATM and taking out 21,000 forinths. We walked to Hero's Square, where the boys went to the outdoor thermal baths on our first break. They recommended the baths but we couldn't find them, so we turned around and decided we would go to the Gellert Spa. The Hotel Gellert is the most well known thermal bath spa in Budapest, but it's indoors and we thought it would be fun to try something outdoors. Nonetheless we were excited to see what the baths were all about, and it worked out great that we went to the Gellert Spa instead. We each also got a massage, and I got a pedicure since I've wanted one since February and was so cheap with the exchange rate. Pedicures in Europe- or at least Hotel Gellert are different from the US because they don't have nail polish which I thought was weird. After my pedicure I joined the girls in the baths. We were crouched in a corner being giggly at all the old naked women. Eventually Sarah and I looked at each other and decided to partake in the European culture hahah. Whitney and Katherine both joined so we were all in it together. At first we were shy but not long after taking off our suits did we begin to feel comfortable. It was so funny how confident we got strutting around nakie, just because we knew we would never see these ladies again. It definitely needs to be said that it was divided into a male bath and a female bath, so if this was any other situation there is no way we would get into our birthday suits. Not trying to brag but after we stripped down we noticed all the old ladies putting their suits back on...haha could have just been our imagination but we'll go with it wasn't :) My massage was first, so I put my bikini back on and followed the lady into a room. She motioned for me to drop my sheet so I placed it on the chair and was about to get on the massage table. THEN she motioned for me to drop my bathing suit on the chair...with her still in the room! The best part is that I had to get on the table nakie without a sheet covering me for the massage. This was definitely a day of true European experiences. I kept having to stifle my laughing I was caught so off guard. Sad but it was really the best massage I've ever had, and we all joke that we've been touched in places no ones been by these old Hungarian women. Afterwards I ran back to our cabana to warn the other girls of the massages, although I don't know if it's better to go in with no idea of what's to come. We had so much fun at the spa, and it was a perfect start to our trip. We now feel MUCH more comfortable with each other haha. Around 6:30pm we left the spa and showered for dinner. We went to this really good place called Fat Mo's, which was set up like an American speakeasy. I love Budapest because the prices are so good, so this restaurant wasn't that expensive for the type of place it was. Afterwards we left for a casino near the hostel which turned out to be a bust. The jackpot was 17,000 forinths and considering we each took out 21,000 forinths for one day this was not what we pictured. Instead we went upstairs to the wine bar and split a few bottles. It was a really relaxing night and we had fun just hanging out talking for a few hours.
Saturday we were up and out by about 10am, but missed our walking tour because we got lost along the way. We went on a "Hop-Off Hop-On" tour around the Buda and Pest sides, which took about 2 and 1/2 hours. It was nice to sit on a warm bus but the classical music playing in the background made us sleepy. My favorite part of the tour was on the Buda side on Gellert Hill, which had the prettiest panoramic views of the city. We grabbed Doner's for lunch and then tried to catch a Danube river cruise which came with our bus ticket. WELL- either the bus company or boat company was not good about communicating the schedule, because we were at the right spot and the right time with no boat in sight. We ran all along the docks but no boat, so we just ended up being really hot & gross from running in winter jackets. At least it was our adventure for the day - we ended up having one crazy adventure each day of our break, not by choice either. Budapest was fun but after this boat fiasco we were ready to leave. Overall we had a great jump start to our break, but I was very excited to get to Vienna.