It seemed somewhat poignant that I was visiting my late grandfather’s home city for the first time on All Saints Day, an important Catholic holiday where everyone makes a special effort to visit the graves of loved ones.
Contrary to this peaceful pilgrimage idea, our Friday morning started with an alarm that didn’t go off and a pre-paid-for train that we subsequently missed. I’m a complete expert in this situation, honestly, these things happen to me all the time, so after cursing the damn iPhone and trying to solve the alarm mystery, I turned to my good friend carpooling and we were lucky enough to find an attractive Hungarian to drive us for €20 each, arriving only two hours later than originally planned.
Devon and I stayed with her friend Anna in Anna’s friend’s flat (friend of a friend of a friend we never got to meet), and I set up camp on the sofa. Having Anna, a local, as our tour guide was invaluable to our trip.
We kicked off our Budapest weekender with a free walking tour which, though the guy was super cringey and I totally wouldn’t advise dragging your luggage along for three hours, was the perfect introduction to the city. I honestly cannot recommend it more; we were completely overloaded with information about the culture and history, as well as recommendations and tips about getting around and staying safe. Taking the tour in the afternoon, we ended on top of Castle Hill after sunset – the most beautiful time and place to view the city.
On the Saturday, I explored Kerepesi cemetery, a weird choice, but I love finding peace in the big city. It being the day after All Saints Day, there were a lot of newly-laid flowers, the sun was shining, and the leaves were orange and crunchy. It was beautiful, really calming and culturally interesting too (mausoleum architecture, communist history, military graves…)
The next two days were filled with a lot of food (see separate post), meeting my dad’s cousin for coffee and cake, a little bit of partying and rather a lot of sleeping. Having started the trip with the walking tour, we were much more aware of things we wanted to see and do, but took it at a slow pace and left a few stones unturned for next time (most importantly, visiting a bathhouse!)
Budapest is a fabulous city; very young and cool, with a history (and language!) that blows my mind and architecture that I could stare at for hours. I want to head back, and definitely plan to revisit in the Summer. I think I can safely say I am a proud third-generation Hungarian, and for that, thank you Budapest.