When I went to Budapest I was not sure what to expect. What I did know is that they were famous for their Hot Springs, thermal baths and bridges. That’s all I need to know to spend an extra day there in the spa! Trisha and I had quite the experiences there. It was our midway point of a six-week backpacking trip. So we were using Budapest as our relaxation point where we could just spend all day in the thermal baths at different locations in the city to recharge for the rest of the trip. We ended up spending two whole days at the Hot Springs. It was amazing. The mineral baths were therapeutic, relaxing and just what the doctor ordered.
When we first arrived in Budapest we checked into our hostel – which was five star hotel converted into a hostel.It was called wombatz hostel. It was huge. There were young adults there from all over the world. It was the best place to meet people….. Although, I am still trying to decide for myself if there is a real difference in the definitions between hostel and brothel! It was definitely a hook up spot for random people! We learned that very quickly! Although, I must say that I did not join in the festivities. After we dropped our bags off, we went down the street to look for some food. On the way to the restaurant we saw this Mexican place. When we walked by there was a man through the open window who made eye contact with us. As we walked past the door the guy came out after us. He came up to me and said, quote you look very happy, I would like to give you a massage. Not the sexy massage but the relaxation kind. I would like to do this for you in my apartment right next-door hardly a price.” I looked at Trisha with the eyes of, “is this real life?” The guy was serious. We thanked him and walked away. He did not speak great English. I was in shock that actually happened. It was hilarious. We spent the rest of that evening at the train station mall. It was a four-story mall. We caught up on all of our shopping there for the rest of the trip. Budapest was really inexpensive!
The next day, we went to Gellert spa. We spent all day to different thermal baths that went up to 40°C and then the 19°C pools. It was much needed relaxation day. We followed that up with an hour massage at the spa. Later that evening, after a full day of relaxation, we met up with a couch surfing friend that I met online. His name was Ramin. He gave us directions to his house to meet him and two French girls and two Italian girls who were also strangers from the couch-surfing website as well as his roommates at his apartment before they went out for the night. It was late at night. We made it off of the subway to the stop that he told us. When we got to his home, we rang and rang and knocked and knocked. There was no answer. We decided after standing in the dark street for 10 minutes that maybe this was not a good idea. We figured that they had left without us or it was a set up.
We then decided to sit on the curb near the apartment. We opened up a bottle of wine and began to drink it on the street side just like everybody else did in that town. People were walking by and we still had no response by phone from the contact we were meeting up with. We decided to make the best of it. A younger guy walked past us and Tricia asked him if he wanted a drink because we have plenty. He smiled and said no thank you and walked on by. I looked and down the street and said, “wait where you going. ” He said that he was going to meet up with his friends to go out. I said, “perfect let’s join you” He felt a little bit uncomfortable but said yeah I guess so…. We got up from the street corner and walked with him. When he went to unlock his door it was the same building that the guy we were supposed to meet lives in. I then told him the story about how we were meeting this guy named Ramin to go out with him and his roommates and friends and that I hadn’t heard back from him. The guy stopped and looked at me. He said, “no way”! As we walked into the building. She said, “that is my roommate”! As we walked up the stairs Ramin started walking down. He said, Rachel, hello! I apologize, I was in the shower and I did not have my phone with me.” We all stopped and laughed. We told him the story about how we gave up on him and decided to join another person for his night out and he turned out to be going to the same place we were. That is why again, I will always say, talk to everyone. You never know who you are going to meet.
When we got to his house, there were two girls from France and two girls from Italy. One guy from Argentina. There was also one other guy from Finland and his roommate from Italy. It was quite the interesting bunch to go out. Nobody knew each other. It made for great conversations and an excellent night out.
Ramin was from Iran but lived in Budapest. He reminded me of Borat. There were certain things that were lost in translation. When Trisha and I started laughing at something he said, he would ask us “why we were laughing on him”. The poor conjugation made us laugh even more. He told us about how his favorite animal was a meerkat. He even had a photo of one on the back of his phone screen. He took us to a ruin bar. Two of them actually. A ruin bar is an abandoned building that the city turned into a bar to use the space. Everything is raw. It is an open space with a lot of eclectic things. It would be considered very hipster. The first one we went to was the third best in the world.
The next day after that, we went to a spa in another location in the city. That was another relaxation day. After that day at the thermal baths we walked through town. This time we stopped at an Asian massage place. It was a lot better than the first place I made a reservation at which was called the princesses of massage. That was not the type of massage we were looking for. This was the most awkward massage I’ve ever had. They made us take off our shoes downstairs and put on their sandals. Then we walked upstairs to a dark place. There were curtains separating the rooms. When I got to my curtained off room, there was a mat on the floor. She told me to take off all my clothes and lay facedown on the mat. When she came in to do the massage, she sat down next to me and began. Halfway through she was sitting on top of me to do the massage….. I felt very uncomfortable. I was definitely not expecting that. When Trisha was finished with her massage next-door, I asked her what her experience was like. She said that she kept her clothes on and that it was not the same….. Weird! We then went on a walking tour of the city. The first thing that our tour guide told us is to learn the language of Budapest by picking up a Hungarian lover for a couple of years and settle down with him until you learn the language and then move on. One thing that I noticed about Budapest is that they referred to the shady places as the shadow areas. The tour guide would tell us to “move into the shadows.” I learned that the helicopter, vitamin C, ballpoint pen, and the Rubiks cube were all from Hungary. Also, an important thing to know is that hello actually means goodbye.
That night we were very tired, but everybody insisted that we go out and check out this popular ruin bar in town. As we were walking there I stepped into a manhole that was exposed and got covered in mud. Luckily for me it was right across from where we were sleeping, so I got to go back home and change. There were a couple other shady characters he walked past. Two separate guys on the way stopped me to give me a kiss on each cheek and then kiss my hand. It was weird. So after a rough start getting ready to go out for the last night in Budapest Trisha said “I feel like God is telling us to stay home and to not go anywhere tonight”. We looked at each other and agreed. We decided to at least go check it out. We got tacos at a seedy place and then we started walking to the ruin bar.
In route we were approached by two very shady characters. We were a block away and there was a Nigerian man with healed knife marks on his face and neck with his right Eye missing. He came up to us and started speaking Nigerian with broken English. Then his friend came from across the street behind us. I told Tricia to keep on walking and to follow me. I moved quickly to try to avoid eye contact and went through the bouncers to get in. Sure enough, they followed us in. To be sure that I wasn’t just crazy and that they were actually following us, when we walked through the bar, instead of following everybody at the main entrance I went to the left towards a hall with a stairway and we started to go up the stairs. They had followed the main crowd for a few steps then they turned around and came towards Tricia and I. They were talking to us and it was hard to understand. We pushed through them and went to the main entrance. I told Tricia to run! We went through the main crowd and ran to a small crevice and waited for them to go past. Then we went up the stairs to be able to look down into the main part of the restaurant and locate them to see where our best exit would be. When we saw them downstairs they were looking around and looking upwards for us. The one guy made a phone call and the other started going upstairs. I took Trisha and we sat down at a random table full of Italians. We jumped into the conversation like we belonged. When the coast was clear we ran down the stairs and made a safe exit and got back to the hostel. We both agreed that it wasn’t worth it to go out again. The next day we had to leave, but we had time to go hiking. While we were hiking up a mountain, we saw the Italian guys that we sat down with. That was random!
We then parted ways. Trisha went off on the night train to Prague and I went off on the night train to Poland to see Auschwitz.