Is there a better way to relax after a long semester than to juggle airport security, transportation, bags, and check-ins? Not in a million years, those are the best. (Disclaimer: This is a joke.)
But that is what I decided to do, and so a month ago I scheduled a flight the day after my last final to Budapest, Hungary. I had read and heard that Budapest is very beautiful during the winter, and I had always had it on the list of places to visit, so I thought, why not, let’s do it.
When I bought my flight to Budapest, I booked the morning direct flight from MAD to BUD, which left Madrid at 6:50am. I didn’t think about the implications of booking a flight that early when you use public transportation to get everywhere, even though friends had warned me of the early flights before… the public transportation such as the light rails and the subway do not start until 5:30 or 6 in the morning… which is too late for me to be able to get from my house to the airport and also board the plane. So I slept* in the airport the night before. (*I wouldn’t really call it sleeping or say that I got a lot of it, the floor of airports are cold and dirty.) But I made it to Budapest, and that was what was important. I was able to sleep that afternoon in the hostel I was staying at.
As aforementioned, I stayed at a hostel while in Budapest called Hostel One Basilica (part of the Hostel One group of hostels). It was a super fun experience, and I would definitely recommend it if you are traveling to Budapest. The whole hostel situation was one that I really enjoyed and which made my time in Budapest a lot better because I was able to make friends and meet people that were traveling from everywhere in the world. The hostel that I stayed at was also nice because every evening they would provide some sort of dinner for everyone, after we would play drinking games, and then after that we would go out to various ruin bars or other clubs in Budapest, which is very nice for someone like me that was traveling alone and wanted to go out, but that doesn’t know enough about Budapest to know where to go out (and plus I don’t speak a word of Hungarian).
Although I spent a large part of the evenings at the hostel or with the friends that I made there, I used the daylight hours (of which there seemed to be fewer than in Spain) to explore the city of Budapest, and I crossed the Danube multiple times exploring both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. I would definitely recommend visiting the city if you are ever in Eastern Europe, it has tons of cool European architecture, Turkish baths, huge castles, churches, museums, and government buildings. I can’t say that I have visited a lot of European cities during the winter, but Budapest was definitely snow-covered and beautiful in the winter weather with snow, fog, some sunlight, trees, and huge buildings everywhere. It was certainly cold (by Madrid standards it was cold x100000), but I was still able to spend 8 hours or more outside every day if I was bundled up. 10/10 would recommend.
While my return to Madrid was almost as harrowing as the flight to Budapest, it was less interesting, but it will suffice to say that I made it with a little bit of margin. And 18 hours after I arrived back in Madrid I was back in the MAD airport… on my way to surprise some of my favorite people (but that’s a story for another day).