Waking up at Carpe Noctem Vitae, our hostel, was like waking up at Celebration Station again, my house in Gainesville. There were empty cups left and right and people passed out on the floor and couches everywhere. I saw one guy passed out on a couch with his money belt still on and a bottle of beer in his jeans pocket. Rick Steves would be proud. One guy woke up as I was making coffee and we chatted for a bit. It turns out he works for the hostel, but not the hostel we were at. Last night he had walked back to the wrong hostel and passed out. His boss, who owns both hostels, found him at our hostel and just laughed. Sounds like a good boss.
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I walked out onto the verandah to drink my coffee and struck up a conversation with a guy named Max from UF who had graduated from UF the same time I had. It turns out he was friends with Gabby and Sunny and knew my sister Kiana. Small world.
Rob and I got up and out pretty early, around 9ish. We got breakfast pastries for $1 each and caught the bus to Budapest’s Castle Hill. The hill is home to numerous monuments, including the former Palace, which is now an art museum. From the art museum, you could look out over all of Budapest and watch the Danube River snake through it.
After the art museum, Rob and I walked to the Royal Wine Cellar for a wine tasting. The cellar is a network of tunnels and cellars connected together under the city. We sampled 5 wines. We paid for three, but Rob knows more about wine than anyone I’ve ever met and the waiters were eager to impress Rob with Hungarian wine.
Hours later, we stumbled out of the wine cellar into Castle Hill once again, looking at Cathedrals and standing before the magnificence of Budapest below us, before catching the bus back to the hostel. Our next stop of the day was at the Hungarian baths that Budapest is so famous for. Budapest itself is built on top of a bed oh hot springs and the springs naturally supply the water to the baths. Anyways, Rob and I put on our swimsuits and caught the subway across town, apparently, a lot of people do this as there weren’t too many people staring at the people in swimsuits.
After we paid for the baths, the receptionist behind the counter gave us an electronic wristband to get through the turnstile and into the locker room. Our bands corresponded with a locker and we put our bags down before heading into the baths. The whole complex is just like one giant public swimming pool with families, teenagers, and old people swimming around, all clothed. The baths also offer several different saunas, heated pools, whirlpools, and ice baths.
We swam around a bit and met some English people enjoying the baths, played chess against the Hungarian locals in the baths (locals get a black band instead of blue), and went to the sauna for a bit. This was by far the hottest sauna I have ever been in. The air was so hot it hurt to breathe. I lasted a couple minutes then had to go cool off in the ice bath.
After the baths, Rob and I got dinner downtown at a little cafe. We each had a filling meal of chicken and rice, only $4.50 each. The prices in Hungary are amazing. We made our way back to the hostel after dinner and got ready to go out on the town with the hostel’s pub crawl, which was free!
The bars in Budapest are the coolest bars I’ve ever been to, hands down. Each bar was a bigger and better version than the last, and each one felt like The Atlantic in Gainesville, just improved slightly in every way. The first bar was fun, and about the same size and feel of the Atlantic. It was in a courtyard with a projector playing crazy brightly colored graphics on it while fun electro played in the background.We met a guy from Gainesville, named Cooper, who is now going to UCF. It turns out we knew a bunch of the same people from SDS, like Jessica, Tina, Skeet, and Richard. He and I chatted a bit and went our separate ways when the hostel crowd left.
The second bar was a bit larger and had a giant outdoor area with ping pong, pinball, several bars, and tons of chairs and tables under a vine-covered terrace where people talked and drank. Everywhere I went, I wanted to go back to and stay forever. I imagined the people back home I would bring here and the fun we would have on my next Europe trip.
The last bar was the coolest bar I’ve ever been to. As you walked up to it there were two giant doors that you walked around and into a smaller side entrance. Inside the bar was two stories with numerous balconies and catwalks on the second floor looking down onto the first floor. Separating the two floors was a latticework of vines and Christmas lights creating this neat semi-transparent layer between the two. On the first floor, there were tons of alcoves and little rooms off from the main area. The bar had several smaller bars and a pizza shop inside it as well.
After the last bar, we went out to a club, that I would not have known existed if it weren’t for the pub-crawl. After paying cover we walked up a long graffiti filled staircase into a dance hall pumping heavy bass and awesome techno into the crowd. I don’t know what I was listening to, but it sounded like a mix of Glitchmob and MGMT. Different parts of the club had murals of spirals across the floor, walls, and ceiling, and other rooms were entirely black with black lights to illuminate them.
Rob and I worked our way to the front by the DJ booth and danced til 2 then called it a night back at the hostel.