For this leg of the adventure check out Travel By Cassidy Facebook for the accompanying pictures!
Last night, the purse I had bought to replace the other one that broke, broke last night. I knew I had seen some of those tourist purses the other day, so after a kind of lazy start (when stuff doesn’t open until 10 am, you can’t really do a whole lot about it) I rushed off to find this store and buy a purse. After basically running/walking/metro taking to the center, I made it into the shop grabbed a bag I wanted (I had seen one I wanted, but wasn’t going to drop that kind of money on it), paid and started walking back to take the walking tour. I loved the walking tour in Sofia and had high hopes for this one. They disappointed horribly. I realized afterwards that I had never not learned anything in that amount of time before. They did a lot of sitting and not walking. They did a wonderful overview of the history of the entire country- but almost nothing about the city. And to be honest, if I wanted to learn about the history I would go to a museum. And I was still juggling the revisionist history that I was hearing. I almost left, but thought that I might be more interesting as it progressed. I was pretty wrong. I do not recommend taking this tour unless you want to learn all the history of the country without any of the history of the city or any of the pointing out of cool buildings or city history. (it was Budapest Walking Tours by the way).
After this two hour tour where I learned a lot about the country and very little about the city I was living in, I grabbed a vegetarian sandwich and ate it as I walked to the museum I wanted to go to. It was funny as I ordered the sandwich, I asked for the cheese sandwich and the guy was like, “it is only cheese, no meat…” and I am like, “yes, no meat is good.” I made it to the Budapest history museum/national gallery at the Royal Palace. I had heard about Die Hard 5 filming in Budapest the day before, but I didn’t think it would impact my life. Well it did. They closed the history museum down so they could film in it. Why they couldn’t film it on a Monday when all of the museums are closed, I do not know. I was livid for the longest time before I realized I just had to let it go and just enjoy where I was. You often have to make a conscious decision to just let stuff that bothers you go, or it can ruin your day. This was going a while to running my day when I made the decision that it would be cool when I finally saw that movie in the US and I would be I WAS THERE! I decided to go ahead and go to the National Gallery, which hosts only Hungarian artists. There were some really cool exhibits- children art work, landscapes, portraits, and old maps. They had 4 special exhibits going on while I was there. “Heros, Kings, and Saints” which included information about the most famous Hungarian heroes throughout history. It also had this ginormous painting that was supposed to go in the Parliament but then the winds of politics changed and they never put it in there. (there were only 2 women in the whole painting!) They showcased the peasants uprisings, Turkish wars, and revolution of 1848-1489. They also had an exhibit of two of the famous Hungarian artist that I had never heard of before. But there were some breath taking paintings. (Which I will try to find the links for later, I don’t have my notes with me here and I wrote the names of the artists down.) I did get to peek into the filming area of Die Hard, which was kind of cool. (for all these pictures and more, go onto the Travel By Cassidy Facebook page!).
After the gallery, and required picture taking outside and of the city, I walked back along the road to try to find an ATM or a shop that took plastic for my souvenirs. Luckily I found one. But man these things are expensive! Like really expensive! But they took plastic and had the same prices as the rest of the town, so I went ahead and bought them. The place I bought lunch at had these Hungarian specialties called Kurtoskalacs. They are bread that is rolled up around a little wooden things that are then placed in an open oven and baked. They are first dipped in the seasoning of your choice- cinnamon, coconut, sugar, chocolate, etc. I picked cinnamon. And boy was it delicious! So yummy! It was so hot at first that I couldn’t pick it up/eat it, but once it cooled down a bit, it was great!!!! So worth it, the waiting and walking etc.
I then got on the bus to head back to the hostel (via metro as well) to meet up with Claire, we were going to the baths! When I got back she wasn’t there, I waited about 15 extra minutes before deciding that I should just go anyway. So I packed up my bags and went. There was a bit of a line to get in, which they had warned us about. I recommend buying your ticket beforehand because it will just be easier. But not necessarily cheaper- that was at the door. I just waited in line all by myself and it felt really awkward. There were all these families and couples around me, everyone had come with someone. I had thought about getting a massage, but decided that I could always just do that later if I wanted to. I bought my entrance fee and got this little plastic watch thing that was to be my locker key and entrance key.
The funny thing is, I couldn’t find out how to use the locker. It turns out that it was just the locker that was broken that I first tried. But eventually I succeed! As did this other confused lady that went with me to try to figure out why we couldn’t access the locker…Then it was a quick change and out to the baths. Baths is more than likely a loosely translated term for gigantic mineral hot tub. But the water is natural and just comes up from the ground full of healthy minerals and hot. Deliciously hot after a long day of walking. Even if it was still blistering hot outside. I was mostly in the shade. I then just tried to relax. Do you know how hard this is? Especially when you are in a pool sized hot tub with no one you know and you don’t understand a word of what is going on around you? But I tried. I just stretched and sat and used the jets as massage. And let the water work its miracles. I stayed in the outdoor pools for about 30 minutes, before heading to the inside ones. There are supposedly 18 different pools- with different mineral composition and different temperatures. I think I tried about 6 of them. Plus two saunas. It was just totally relaxing. I spent about an hour here before deciding to pack up and head up. I grabbed my camera to go take some pictures around the spa before leaving though. And then I ran into Claire! I decided to stay and go through it all again with her! So all in all for $15 USD I spent about 3 hours in hot tubs. By the time I got out, everything was refreshed and relaxed.
After changing, we walked to the center because her travel pass had expired. And this was a very bad decision. 45 minutes later, we make it down town. I should have just paid for her to take the metro into town, so much better for me, especially when I ended up needing a cab back to the hostel. But she had never been to Hard Rock outside of the US, so we decided to go there. I was not very happy with this decision, because they didn’t have a veggie burger, they only had a veggie sandwich and I didn’t want to pay that much for a freaking sandwich. But I realized I would want someone to come with me to a restaurant that I had never been to even if they couldn’t find a lot to eat as well, so off we went. It was horrible food, but good wine. And conversation. Then we left to walk back home. And made it only a little bit before getting in a cab. I could have made it, but it would have been one of the most miserable walks home that I had taken in a long time. It was also the shortest most expensive cab ride I have taken- it was almost 10 Euro!! But worth it, to not be laying on the side of a road somewhere waiting for my legs to be able to walk again. Then sleep, precious precious sleep.
See you around the globe!