After spending a little more than a week in Croatia, our next stop was Hungary. The initial reason for visiting the country was to catch up with friends going to the Sziget music festival. I’d heard Budapest was a great city to visit and with the prospect of baths to cool off from the searing hot temperatures we figured it would be a nice change from the beach life we had been living in Croatia.
But with six days left in the holiday, I didn’t want to spend it all in Budapest. So using Google Maps and Images I found a train stop on the way called ‘Siofok’. A small town by a large lake, it was apparently the party capital for people in Hungary and looked like a good place to break up the seven hour train ride. So we booked our ticket and waited with anticipation for what we hoped would be a ICE (that’s the German fast train), air-conditioned and comfortable style train to take us.
Of course the reality was far different to this dream – if the train from Croatia to Hungary had been operating in the 19th century i wouldn’t have been surprised. Jumping on the closest carriage we could, we quickly found a seat only to be told 20 minutes later that the middle carriages don’t go into Hungary (!). Because that makes perfect sense, for the middle ones to be taken out as opposed to the front or back ones. So i had to bolt to the front to find seats while the boy carried our luggage – eventually all i could find was first class seats and when the woman checked our tickets and didn’t say anything the relief was overwhelming. Then came the excitement at the fact that we’d just snuck into first class. Of course it didn’t last the entire trip, but we only had to stand for about 40 minutes and it was quite good to get a chance to stick our heads out of the window. That air-conditioning I mentioned? Nada. Not even for the rich people. But then again I guess the real rich people wouldn’t be seen dead on this type of train.
|Our nightmare train ride – made much better by sneaking into first class!|
Arriving in Siofok, we were the only passengers to get off at this stop. It made me feel equally clever at picking somewhere not on the tourist-trail and also scared shitless that i had picked somewhere that was a bit crap. But when we saw the lake, well it definitely was far from crap.
|Lake Balaton, Siofok – absolutely stunning|
The food and drinks were ridiculously cheap and the nightlife was crazy – it seems this is a little undiscovered Ibiza without the 18 year old English lads on tour. Cocktails were two for one all night, and you could get Jager ‘Booms’ at every second bar. We only got two nights in this amazing place, and the highlight was definitely learning to windsurf, something i’ve always wanted to do. We both picked it up in about an hour and although there wasn’t a great deal of wind it was the perfect way to watch the sunset, and our last ones being ‘beach bums’ as such.
|Learning the art of windsurfing|
As we waited for the train to Budapest, we expected the worst. And lucky, because it was as horrible as the one that dropped us off in this little piece of paradise. Seats were only available in the sun and the stop start process made us over an hour later than we’d planned. This was soothed by our arrival at our ‘hostel’, which turned out to be an awesome apartment with kitchen, lounge room and beautiful old-fashioned Hungarian furniture (would highly recommend Yep Hostel).
After a quick look around the heat was too much and we headed to the first Baths we could find – Gallert. Meeting my friends there, we did the thermal cycle that takes you from pretty hot baths to a ridiculously hot sauna, then into an ice cold bath. The feeling was amazing, I was cold on the outside and hot on the inside – definitely a weird sensation!
|Gallert baths in Budapest – Bliss on a hot summers’ day|
While we had planned to head to the festival on the Sunday, i desperately wanted to go on the Saturday, and finally convinced the boy on the condition that we did a walk up the hill on the side of the city which i’d previously been too lazy to do. Compromise is the key to a successful relationship no?
We didn’t make it to the festival until 9pm – I opened the seal far too early and had to pee 5 times on the way and the boy thought it was a brilliant idea to walk to the island on the map as there was surely only one island in Budapest (for the record, there are two. I know this now through experience). But when we made it, Mika was just about to come on and the party afterwards was more than perfect.
|Mika live at Sziget – great performance|
I went into ‘looking-after’ mode quite quickly after the show – it’s not often my boyfriend gets really drunk but when he does, if you can picture a crazy happy Russian and a crazy German acting like all their birthdays and christmases have come at once, well that’s him on a big night out. But this wasn’t a problem, because after recovering the next day and heading back to the festival for David Guetta, it was my turn to be the one who needed looking after, particularly when I thought it was a brilliant idea to jump on the back of a car while we were walking from one stage to the next.
|Comprehending the pain of the flight home the next day|
The next day after a hellish bus ride to the airport, we reflected on an amazing two weeks. It was our first proper couply holiday (two Oktoberfests don’t count) and the boy’s first time away where he could only really speak English (apart from in Siofok, where they mostly spoke German and Russian). It was also my first long holiday where I wasn’t just taking a long weekend in a few years and it felt like we had experienced everything in that time – we’d swam in seas, lakes, baths and rivers; we’d traveled by train, bus, car and plane; we’d done diving, wakeboarding and windsurfing; we’d been relaxing, partying, eating amazing food, seeing great friends and spending quality time alone. It was everything I wanted from my holiday and more. And knowing we would be off to Ireland in two weeks made it less painful to get that bus from Frankfurt Hahn airport back to our home. xx