Hungary – Budapest

The first time Nico and I passed through Budapest was last year.  We had driven through Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and were taking a cheap flight out of Budapest back home.  Unfortunately, there was a series of snags, including getting scammed by a cab driver, that led to Nico having to miss his flight and take a 24 hour long train journey back to Luxembourg.  We decided to give Hungary another shot when a friend came to visit in October.  Budapest is a beautiful city with a lot to see and do, and it’s a popular destination for stag dos and hen parties (British bachelor and bachelorette parties).


Hungarian Parliament Building


Day 1 – Thermal Baths, Parliament, Castle Hill

Public transport is cheap and easy to use, but make sure to stamp or validate your ticket!  Enforcement is strict, fines aren’t cheap, and playing the dumb tourist card won’t work.  I recommend getting the daily tickets for peace of mind and to just simplify things.

The first day, we started off with breakfast and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice at the Central Market Hall.  This is a great place to get some local souvenirs such as paprika and other spices.

Budapest Central Market Hall

Next, we walked across the Danube to the Gellért Thermal Bath.  Budapest is famous for its spas and thermal baths, but do some research on which bath to go to beforehand.  For example, the Rudas bath was open to males only that day.  Gellért is housed in this beautiful and grand art deco building, built in 1918.  I could have spent hours here in the large complex relaxing and looking at the lovely architecture.

Gellért Thermal Bath

In the afternoon, we did a tour of the Hungarian Parliament, which you can only do through a guided tour (5,800 HUF or $20 USD per person).  We had to book in advance, but there were no English tours, so we hopped onto a Spanish one and Nico did the translating for us 😊.  The building is stunning and the largest in Hungary, so the tour only covered a small percentage.  Beyond being able to see the ornate interiors, the tour wasn’t very informative, so I don’t recommend it.  According to Nico’s translations, the guide mostly spoke about when everything was made and what it was made out of, whereas I was hoping to learn more about general Hungarian history and politics.





Just before sunset, we walked up to the Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle hill.  We got beer and goulash soup at the panoramic restaurant, while taking in the scenic view of the Danube river and the city.



Fisherman’s Bastion
Matthias Church
Fisherman’s Bastion



At night, we decided to check out the ruin bars that everyone talks about.  We went to the popular Szimpla Kert, which was a massive maze of smaller “bars” and rooms, e.g. live music room, art gallery room, wine bar, cocktail bar, shisha/hookah bar, etc.  It was great for people watching and to just wander around and stare at the decor.

Day 2 – Kékes (1,014 m or 3,327 ft)

We started the day with a brunch at the Csiga Cafe by our Airbnb before picking up a rental car to drive out to Hungary’s highest point, Kékes.  It’s about an hour and a half drive from Budapest, and you can basically drive to the top.  There’s not a whole lot to see besides a radio tower and a patriotic marker, but it’s a popular area for bikers and also turns into a ski area in the winter.



Since we had a car, we stopped by a bear farm on the way back.  It would be a fun stop for kids, as you can feed bears with honey on sticks.  They also have wolves, llamas, sheep, raccoon-y things, pigs, lynx, and more.

Vajdahunyad Castle
Vajdahunyad Castle
Elisabeth Bridge

Back in Budapest, we took a quick stroll around Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park in the to wait out the traffic before returning the car.  For dinner, we went to an amazing place with a live guitarist called Alma & Körte.

Day 3 – Danube Views

The morning we were to fly out, we took a quick walk along the Danube by Buda Castle where the Budapest marathon was passing through.


Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Budapest subway stop

Lessons and Tips

  • Make sure to validate public transport tickets or buy the daily passes for simplicity.
  • Budapest is really touristy, but it’s a large enough city so you can definitely visit less popular areas.
  • You almost always need to pay cash for bathrooms.  Even when we paid for a tour of the Hungarian Parliament, I still had to pay 200 HUF ($0.70 USD) for the bathroom entrance.
  • Order cabs ahead of time through reputable companies, otherwise there’s a high probability of getting ripped off.  Uber wasn’t available in Budapest when we were there.

Photos taken with the iPhone 6s or Fujifilm X-E2s

Slovakia – Banská Štiavnica, High Tatra Mountains, Gerlachovský štít

I’m alive!  I suppose this is what happens when I work too much…  It’s been 3 months since my last post, so let’s get on with it, continuing from this post on my trip in the Czech Republic.

Day 6 – Banská Štiavnica

This whole trip involved a lot of driving and exploring and hiking, which are all things that I love.  Banská Štiavnica is a cute little medieval mining town about a 2.5 hour drive from Bratislava, with a population of about 10,000 people.  We even had lunch at a restaurant with an old mining shaft in it.  The town crest is decorated with a gold and a silver lizard, referring to the legend that says these lizards first led a shepherd to discover gold and silver ores.

Banská Štiavnica
Štôlňa Glanzenberg mining tunnel

We were hoping to get a massage to recover from our Sněžka hike, but were a bit deterred by this sign…


Day 7 – High Tatras

The goal of this trip was to climb the highest point in Slovakia, which is located in the High Tatras Mountains.  We had driven in the night before to Štrbské Pleso, a little ski resort at the foot of the mountain range, where we spent the day relaxing and finally getting that massage.  For some reason, we opted for a “local special” as part of the massage, which involved getting strapped into a contraption and being flipped upside down and just hanging out for 15 minutes upside down.  Did not like.  Do not recommend.  Will never willingly do that again.

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Czech Republic – Prague, Bohemian Switzerland, Krkonoše National Park

Since my surgery, I’ve pretty much been grounded: limited walking, no running, no flights.  However, there were a few trips that I went on beforehand that I haven’t written about yet, so enjoy 🙂

N and I went on a long trip in August while he had some time off, and we did it in an N kind of fashion.  I usually like to do a little research before I go anywhere, and I almost always book my lodging ahead of time because as a woman traveling in a foreign place, I at least want to know where I will be sleeping.  N is way more chill and enjoys having the flexibility of staying longer in a place that he likes.  I tried his method of traveling this time, and it was pretty cool.  We did see a lot of places I knew nothing about, however, it does require decent internet access to look things up or book lodging on the fly (as we had difficulty with while driving through the land without cell towers, otherwise known as Slovakia).

Vltava River

Day 1 & 2 – Prague

We got to our Praha 8 AirBnb late in the afternoon, visited the very educational Museum of Communism, took a nice stroll through the Old Town Square, and had a nice hearty dinner.  Prague is a gorgeous and lively city, separated into districts with the beautiful old town in Praha 1.  It’s very busy, filled with tourists and families during the day and party goers at night.  Our AirBnb was in a much quieter, more residential district that had several hipster restaurants and cafes.  We went to Můj šálek kávy for breakfast both mornings we were there.  Don’t ask me to pronounce it; I spent nearly the whole trip trying to get “thank you” (Děkuji) down…  During the day, we walked across the Charles Bridge (Karlův most), up to the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), and then to the modern art Museum Kampa.

Pretty Praha

Day 3 – Bohemian Switzerland

We rented a car from Prague in the morning and drove 2 hours north to the České Švýcarsko National Park in Bohemian Switzerland for a short hike.  The forest is full of boulders, like Fontainebleau in France or Mullerthal in Luxembourg, and the occasional large rock formation jutting out above the trees.  There’s an iconic formation, Pravčická brána, the largest sandstone arch in Europe.  We hiked to the touristy spot, but holy crap the spot smells like sewage due to the inn located there, and the guy running the ticket booth was so rude and the least helpful person ever.  My recommendation is to view the arch from the hiking trail and don’t bother going up to it.

Smelly inn and the Pravčická brána arch
České Švýcarsko National Park

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Germany – Munich

For Easter weekend, N and I went to Munich for our first big trip since moving to Luxembourg.  He’s been in Europe for over a year and I’ve been here and there a bit as well, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over how easy it is to travel around here.  The flight to Munich took one hour, and we did most of the planning the week before.


We got in late and were starved, so had a quick dinner, then decided to go to Augustiner Keller.  It was fairly empty since it was Good Friday.

Augustiner Keller


We started the day at the Viktualien Market, a huge outdoor farmers market offering produce, flowers, coffee, honey, pretzels, cheese, and a beer garden.

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