Our next stop for our Long Study Tour was Budapest. It truly is close to Vienna, only a short three hour train ride away, but for me, the cities felt so different. As soon as we stepped off the train in Budapest, most of my class seemed horrified and uncomfortable with the sudden Soviet-Era, slightly decrepit looking neighborhood that the station was in. I, however, was excited to see the grittier side of things.
After we checked into the hotel, we only had time for dinner, but luckily our dinner was an event in itself. Our dinner was actually a Dinner cruise on the Danube which provided an awesome perspective of our next city to explore.
In order to get to know Budapest, Thorsten and Oluf gave us an assignment to interview residents about a few basic questions such as “How long have you lived in Budapest?” “What would you change about the city if you could?” Their advice was to try coffee shops and cafes and offer to buy the residents a coffee in exchanged for their opinions so a group of us went to the hip former Jewish Quarter and staked out a spot at Mozaik, a great little tea-house.
After talking to the waitress and some other patrons, my friend Mackenzie and I decided to interview some of the people who worked in a tattoo and piercing shop next door.After a short convo with the owner, our spontaneity was roaring to go and both Mackenzie and I decided to let the owner give us new piercings. Okay, some clarifications- this was not as spur of the moment as it sounds. Both of us had wanted new piercing for a while and they were just piercings in the cartilage of our ear. She got her outer helix done and I got the rook (inner cartilage) pierced. Mine was fairly painful but it came out exactly how I wanted and so far is holding up well!
After showing our new piercings to our Professors, we headed over to Kitchen Budapest, an innovation firm sponsored by Hungary’s Ministry of Media, that is so cool. The organization hosts entrepreneurs in residencies and they develop awesome projects, including a lot of apps, like one called Piqniq which helps friends plan dinner parties over their phones.
Today was a very cultural Budapest day, as our class headed to Budapest’s oldest and most traditional bathhouse, the Szechenyi Spa. The Spa had a huge outdoor area, and even though it was still winter outside, the water was heated so well that we were all comfortable. Inside there were countless rooms with different spa amenities. There was a mint infused steam room, but my favorite room was probably the sauna that was next to an ice bath. After spending a few minutes in the sauna, we all felt baked, but a quick jump in to the ice bath woke us all up.
Afterwards we all felt great (not as clean as I felt during my Hammam experience in Morocco, but that’s a story for another time) and we headed towards dinner at Karpathia, the oldest restaurant in Budapest. We were serenaded by a lively string quartet and once again impressed that out of all the places we visited, Budapest by far had the best food.