At the end of March, Olivia, Jack, and I travelled to Prague and Budapest for 4 days. It marked our last trip together as students abroad, and my last trip in Europe (at this point in my life).
Both places were incredible, and Prague won over my heart as one of my favorite cities in Europe, along with Edinburgh and Tallinn.
To be quite frank, I knew nothing about the Czech Republic or Hungary before departing, and in the span of four days in both cities remained a little clueless to a majority of the history behind both countries. It was more of a sight-seeing trip, and sight-visiting trip, than a walking tour/museum/historically informative trip.
And that was perfectly fine, because I have probably learned more about European history than I can retain, or have ever learned about American history (that I also did not retain from junior high or high school…). And although history itself is fascinating, it almost seems as though it has a universal quality to it, in that similar things occur in different places all over the world. Some terrifying, some rejoicing.
We started off our trip with two full days and one night in Prague, then taking a night bus over to Budapest.
Jack and I had a bit of a mix-up before our 7:00AM flight, upon seeing the deal for two mini wine bottles that we went for before going to Scotland. The dialogue went as follows: “What time did we leave last time for Scotland?” “7” *Eyes wine bottles* “Down?” “Not not down” … *Before boarding the plane* “We really left at 7AM for Scotland?” “No, 7PM” “Oh…”
Was a bit early for the wine, but never too early (maybe too early according to the people staring at us). However, the flight went smoothly and we started off the trip strong!
Prague was absolutely breathtaking. When we first arrived, I was a bit jarred at the ruined buildings and streets, but these areas made up a small portion of the city, and were beautiful in themselves.
The food was spectacular, the prices were NOT SWEDEN PRICES (affordable and cheap), beer was cheaper than water, and taxis were $2-$6 at most (which meant not walking home after a late night out). Exactly what a student abroad needs.
We spent the first day checking into our AirBnB, a nice apartment in a shambled building (a theme of the trip), grabbing food and some beers, and then exploring the city for all of its beauty. We visited the different sights including the church, the tower, and the “castle” (a long walk uphill to an area where we grabbed a beer and sat in the nicest Starbucks of all time).
The view from the city tower was absolutely unreal, watching the entire city bustle with life and the colors of the buildings dance in the sunlight. I can understand why medieval royalty built large castles, if nothing else the views are breathtaking.
The entire city, every area of it, was bustling with both local and tourist life. Walking across the famous bridge felt like a maze, in which Olivia almost got lost and I almost got lost. It was kind of nice to be surrounded by both locals and tourists alike, because it meant that we weren’t the only clueless ones in the area.
That night we met up with Jack’s parents for dinner at a traditional Czech restaurant. Shoutout to Jack’s parents for being two lovely awesome people.
We then headed out to grab some ice cream and coffee (NOTE: BLACK & WHITE ICE CREAM IS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN THE WORLD AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY I NEVER ATE IT BEFORE). After taking a moment to rest at the cafe, we embarked on a city pub crawl, hilariously filled with mostly guys, “free” shitty alcohol, a really cool but packed club.
Earlier that day we had also purchased some mini-bottles of Absinthe for our friends back home, but of course opened two of them on the crawl, and then lost the others at coat check into the club. The club was pretty fun, with 7 different floors of dancing (including a hip hop floor and a classics floor; apologies to J&O for going a-wall onto the hip hop floor).
The next day we spent our time sight-seeing, after grabbing an amazing Italian lunch with the BEST Italian chicken dish I have ever had the pleasure of devouring in less than 5 minutes. We walked to see the Dancing Tower, got some drinks at the top and walked around for some views, walked over to see the John Lennon Wall, and then caught a final dinner with Jack’s parents: MEXICAN FOOD and my first margarita ever. Very successful day. We proceeded to fill ourselves even more with a traditional Czech dessert, a churro-like funnel filled with cream and chocolate, and then headed back to Jack’s parents’ extravagant hotel before taking our night bus to Budapest.
We arrived into Budapest at 6:00AM, and wandered around for quite a while, grabbing some food and walking over from the Buda side to the Pest side, where some of the most magical urban landscapes awaited.
Budapest surprised me, probably because I didn’t know quite what to expect. It was astoundingly beautiful.
It looked exactly like what I imagined Rome to look like, or a former capital of a thriving empire who prided itself on architecture and detail.
We walked around and enjoyed the views, before heading to our AirBnB, another gem in a shambled building. After settling in and taking a quick nap, we headed to the famous thermal baths, Széchenyi.
Wading in the hot water, beneath the golden architecture and royal monuments, imagining that people did this many years before. It was a perfect day.
After spending an hour or two in the baths, we took the tram back to our place, rested for a few minutes, grabbed food at a MICHELIN RECOMMENDED BURGER JOINT (to be honest I don’t even know if that means anything), and then headed out for our final-night-abroad-on-trip-with-each-other.
However, it was Monday night. So everything was dead. We met up for a free pub crawl with an awkward leader, three other people, and some bars as dead as we were. I’m laughing just writing about it.
Two uncomfortable bars later, we headed home and got a good night’s sleep.
The next day we grabbed “brunch” at an Asian restaurant, visited the Parliament, a small documentary museum of the tragedy at Parliament square, and stopped by a monument for those lost in the tragic events.
After our final moments of city-wandering, we headed to the airport. A final Ryanair flight and a final return to Copenhagen. The flight was astonishingly beautiful, probably the most beautiful flight I have ever been on.
To sum it all up: Prague was beautiful, Budapest was beautiful. If I were to choose one, it would be Prague no doubt. The prices were cheaper, and generally everything was more lively and accessible.
As usual, traveling with my friends here abroad was spectacular. I am going to miss it a tremendous amount when I return to California. The ease and accessibility of exploring with the people I love, the feeling of being somewhere new every month, the spontaneity of life in Sweden and Europe.
This last month marks the end of my study abroad experience, and in 24 days I will be leaving Sweden. There have been so many weekly miracles in the past few days (which I will write about later on), and so many more to come.
Here’s to living Sweden to the fullest in the final stretch. 🙂