Travel Journal: Scotland
I never could have imagined that I'd take my backpack and get on a plane with the intention of seeing four central/eastern European cities in just five days. When Ellie and I planned the trip it sounded a bit insane, but it was the kind of adventure we were looking for. Our escapade took us to Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, and Salzburg.
After a 7 a.m. flight to Budapest, Ellie and I began our journey. After finding the hostel where we'd be staying, we decided to start exploring the area. We walked to the main street near our hostel and were immediately taken by all of the Christmas lights. Then we strolled to St. Stephen's Basilica where we found a Christmas market. Even though I was the coldest I'd ever been, we stopped and sampled a traditional Hungarian pastry called kürtőskalács (stove cake), which originated in Transylvania. It's a piece of dough that is wrapped around a wooden cylinder and baked on an open fire. Our pastries were dipped in sugar and chocolate which was caramelized. After eating our goodies, which were a deal at just 800 forint and totally worth the wait in the cold, we went back to the hostel for some much-needed rest.
The next day was definitely one to remember. We woke up early in the morning and took the subway to Szechenyi Baths—one of the most famous baths in Budapest. First, we got into the outdoor swimming pools which were pretty warm. It looked as though they were steaming because it was so cold outside. One of the pools had a fast current that carried you around in a circle. Then we tried to figure out how to get into the thermal baths. We went into the sauna for several minutes and then ran back outside into the cold. The sauna had warmed and dried our skin enough that it was tolerable, so we experienced a few of the thermal baths. Finally, we reached the room that contained the medicinal baths. The water is from a natural source and contained quite a bit of algae. Once we got in we didn’t want to get out—we stayed in both of the extremely warm baths for a long time.
After leaving the baths, equipped with sweaters, fuzzy socks, not very warm shoes, and backpacks, we hit the trail again. We jumped on the subway and visited the Danube River. The view across the river was breathtaking—the architecture of Budapest was the most unique I've seen. We crossed the famous Chain Bridge and made our way to Castle Hill. The path was long and icy but we made it to the top. The river was even more beautiful from the top of Castle Hill where we saw the Royal Palace, Vienna Gate, Fishermen's Bastion, and Matthias Church. After getting some lunch at a food stand near the palace, we made the trek to the subway station. After a five-hour delay, we were finally on our way to Bratislava, Slovakia.
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