Buda + Pest + Danube = Budapest, I bet many didn't know about this equation. Thanks to Bollywood movies, a lot of us know about this beautiful city. If you remember the iconic climax scene where Aishwarya Rai comes running to Ajay Devgan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (It was shot here in Budapest and not Italy lol).
Let me explain to you the equation. Buda is the classier and the residential side of the city. At the same time, Pest is the touristy and fun side of it. The Danube river had divided these two cities, and later this was joined by bridges to become Budapest in 1873.
Enough of the city tour, let's do story-time.
I was on a high after attending the Infinite Man Summit in Bulgaria. There was an option to travel to the neighboring countries (Serbia, Austria) however decided to chill in Budapest for the next five days.
Randall, my friend from the summit, was supposed to join me.
In the evening, the Zsimpla bar was the place to explore. Szimpla is the first ruin pub(A bar selling alcoholic beverages, inhabiting an old building left in a ramshackle condition) to open in Budapest, Hungary, started in 2002. It is one of the famous tourist spots. The best part is all the tourists come there, and you can talk to anyone. I met Phredley, a very cool guy. He was travelling in Europe to study music in different parts of the world. He had performed with Bruno Mars on stage.
The next day, I didn't feel like getting up from my bed. I can't even explain what I was going
through. The whole day, I was in my room. I don't know if it was because of the last night's
experience or staying away from home, or was I just burnt out? I spoke to a
friend and told I don't want to go anywhere today. My friend insisted I should take a walk as I can't waste this opportunity sitting in my room.
I went for a walk. I was reluctant at the start, not aware my entire mood will change in a few
hours. I was walking on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, slowly contemplating that I will
be back to my routine in a few days. I want to travel forever; how would I maintain this travel lifestyle.
I crossed the bridge and went to the Buda side; I saw Funicular Tram that takes
you to Budapest Castel Hill; I took the ride and spent some time on the hills. It was getting
dark, I came down, and I thought, let me explore this place from a different route to my
hostel. As I was trying a new course, I lost my way.
I saw a girl walking in my direction. I stopped her and asked for recommendations.
"Hi, Can you tell me how I can get to the other side of the bridge"
She looked baffled and stared at me for a second and tried to help me.
"It is quite embarrassing that I'm a local, and I don't know how to get to the other side," She replied.
She attempted to help but finally said: "I'm sorry, but I guess even I don't know." Both of us busted out laughing.
Her name was Sophia. Due to a fight with her sister, she decided to walk back home instead of taking the tram. She loved the fact that I was from India and wished that someday she wants to visit my country.
I suggested that I have all the time in the world if she can show me her city. She said she has
forty-five minutes towards her house so can highlight everything on the way, and then she will guide me towards my hostel. Sounded like an excellent plan.
We spoke many things about our goals & aspirations. Sophia showed me the view of the city from Fisherman's Bastion. She was so excited to talk about her city. She gave me some useful information, things I should try before leaving. I realized that I could have avoided the
Funicular Tram, as I reached Budapest Castle hill walking from a different route.
Sophia told me that she wants to move to London to pursue her dream (Currently in London). It was a fun interaction with her for the entire time. Eventually, we hugged each other goodbye. I promised her I would show her my city whenever she lands here. Sophia, if you are reading this, the offer is still valid :-)
As I was walking back to my hostel, I wondered how two strangers could connect. Both were not in a good mood when we met, but we were in a completely different state when we said goodbye. You trust the other person to show you the city and connect on a human level. It was a beautiful moment.
The next day, my friend Randall arrived, and I was so happy to see him. This trip was before he became a Youtube star (Check out Crypto Love). It was fun to hang out with this guy. He could approach any person on the street.
Randall was a social chameleon, effortlessly adapting to the environment. People loved to be around him. They loved his energy and would be drawn towards him. The hostel has organized a party, and he makes your life so easy that people would be very receptive as you are his friend. I wish I possessed those skills of interacting with people.
I use to explore Budapest in the day as Randall usually meets me in the afternoon ( He used to party hard at night). I explored St. Stephen Basilica; you can buy tickets to view the city from the top. It is a fun experience. I studied the Hungarian Parliament Building.
One activity from the trip to Budapest you cannot miss is the Thermal bath. You can spend
some quality relaxing. Randall and I went to Gellert Baths. We spent some time in the pool,
talking with locals and travelers. The best part was to enter the icy water, and next do the
hot water. You will be very present in this entire experience. There are Spa & massages
options as well inside. After a few hours, we came out refreshed.
We went to the Citadella. Randall spoke about his dream of leaving his job of veterinary and
do something of his own. He wanted to be a dating coach.
Evening we went to the Danube river cruise. Randall had the habit of breaking into societal
norms and talk to all. His real asset was he would brag about nonsense things, and it was
fun to experience it. He would say, "I own a charter, and once this cruise ride is over, I
will head to my private island in Ibiza." People would remain hooked to his storytelling. He danced and ate, and it was a fantastic time on the cruise.
Fun story: Next day, I was heading out to India, and Randall was going to Ukraine. We were heading to a restaurant. Randall saw a beautiful girl, and he went down on his knees and proposed the girl.
"Will you marry me."
The girl laughed and was very receptive, and then she suggested that she go to the nearby bar.
I was talking to her friend and thinking if this is real.
They ordered some expensive drinks and Randall very soon understood that it is a setup.
He paid 70 Euros for the drinks. Once we were out, they were making excuses not to come with us.
Moral of the story: When good things are happening out of the ordinary, take a step back to see if it is real.
Scam alert: In reality, they were hookers hired by the bar owner to get the tourist to buy them drinks.
Randall and I were laughing back at the hostel. I didn't want to say
goodbye to my friend as I was not sure when I will meet him next. We are heading to our world, and these few days were nothing short of magical experience. I hugged him; told him
we would keep meeting soon. I was very emotional at that moment.
That's the end of my first European trip. I went with a lot of doubts about myself. I went through some crazy experiences in Bulgaria, made some cool friends. Explored a whole new world of digital entrepreneurship. I learned a lot about myself. I looked the same, but a lot of things had changed inside me. I was a new man. You never how good you are, unless you face the adversities in your life. There was this tremendous confidence that you put me anywhere; I will explore it and come back safely.
If you are still waiting for your first international trip, don't think twice go for it. Don't wait
for your friend's approval. Plans keep on happening, and you postpone things. Just go for it.
Instincts don't lie, believe in yourself, and take this plunge. I can promise you one thing, you
will be a changed person when you return.
Let me know if you are planning to go somewhere or have already taken your international trip; how was your experience?
"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."
Buda - You have got the beautiful Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle, and Matthias church, all grand. The view from Fisherman Bastion is a must-do. Apart from watching the city in awe across the Danube, you can visit all the landmarks that add to Buda's beauty.
Pest – You got the Parliament, Baths, and the beautiful St Basilica on the Pest side. There are some excellent restaurants, and this part has a fun vibe to it. Pest is where you eat, drink, and have fun after you have wandered the Buda hills. You will find the best restaurants, clubs and bars, and pubs in Budapest.
Please visit the Thermal Baths. (It is worth the experience).
Funicular Tram is an optional ride; you can also walk to the castle.
Visit Szimpla bar to experience tourist hanging out with each other.
The Danube river cruise is also an option.
Citadella & Fisherman's Bastion will offer you the best view of the city.
This is Shekar signing off; I will see you in the next one. Ciao.