Love was truly in the air this Valentine’s Day when six girls and I decided to ditch both Florence and the silly concept of “sleeping at night” for basically a 72-hour-long day in Budapest.
Why no sleep? It all comes down to the fact that we planned our flights with no information except it was the cheapest possible way to get there and back. So, although our flight out of Rome was at 8:40 a.m. (which usually means you can get a full night’s sleep), the only train to Rome from Florence that would get us to the airport before boarding was at 11 p.m. And also, the only way to that particular airport, which was completely closed after midnight until 4:30 a.m., was by taking two different trains and a bus. Thus, although the flight was significantly cheaper than the one right out of Florence, transportation to and from the airport brought the overall cost to about the same level. Basically, we spent the first night wandering around Rome in the darkness.
Although we were fairly sleep-deprived that first day, we jumped straight into being the perfect tourists. We explored the Hungarian Parliament Building, which appeared to vie for the title of “Most Ornate Building in Europe.” With ancient stained glass windows, intricate golden ceilings, statues of nearly every ruler they’ve ever had and floral patterned everything, the building was absolutely stunning. After the tour, we hopped onto a boat that ferried us up and down the Danube River as the sun set over Budapest. Drinking mulled wine — a.k.a. the best part of Europe — we got to see the beautiful old architecture lining the river. Once we left the boat, we ate a questionable meal of traditional Hungarian dishes, which left us understanding just how the country got its name.
The absolute best part of Budapest was the nightlife, and we refused to miss out on it in favor of something as silly as sleep. On the first night there, we went to one of the city’s famous ruins bars — humongous bars made out of the city’s old ruins. The one we went to was endless, with different themed bars and sitting areas scattered across the huge building. The bar was decorated with plants, colorful lights and some truly eclectic decorations, which paired nicely with the array of remixes blasting from the speakers. The bar also had the cheapest drinks I’ve come across so far in Europe, with wine costing only 600 forints, or 1.94 USD. That night ended with the only night’s sleep of the weekend: five whole hours.
On Saturday, we ate at the cutest restaurant on the planet: Vintage Garden. Decorated to the nines for Valentine’s Day, it also had amazing non-Hungarian food. Afterward, we aimlessly explored the city, visiting beautiful places like Fisherman’s Bastion to bide our time for what we came to Budapest to do in the first place: Go to the Sparty! The Sparty is an absolute must for any young person visiting Budapest. In essence, it’s a huge party with fire dancers, great club music and cool lights … inside of a natural thermal bath. Clad in bathing suits in early February, we danced and waded around the pool for hours. The bath was packed with people dancing, splashing, drinking and making out. It was like a club on steroids. Time flew by at the Sparty, and at 3 a.m. we made it back to Airbnb just in time to head to the airport at 4 a.m.
To sum up what it’s like to travel to Budapest, Hungarian food isn’t that great, the city is absolutely beautiful and the nightlife is life-changing. But above all, it’s definitely a city you’ll want to stay up for.
Rebecca Maher is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.