If I was the type for apologies, I might throw one out for inundating you with two posts in one week, but if we are being honest with each other (and let’s be honest), I don’t think you mind much at all. In fact, I’m sure there are some of you who greatly appreciate my dedication to updating you on the reg. And in the spirit of honesty, there’s nothing more I would rather be doing in this moment. So, with a rye whiskey in hands I (thank you duty free) and a clove burning (thank you #PIC), let’s dive into this month’s chapter – Budapest.
The month is far from over, but tomorrow night Marky Mark and I are boarding a bus to Prague for some epic exploring- but more importantly, Remy’s birthday- so I wanted to give you an untainted rundown before that detour. I have to admit that I am slightly disappointed that I’m traveling so much this month, although I’m quite certain that each adventure I take will leave me with no regrets. Budapest is quickly replacing New York as my favorite city ever, and that’s saying a lot, because they don’t have the Yankees here. Our arrival was slightly hazy after our Split airport experience (see Sleep When I’m Dead for reference), but the next morning revealed a gorgeous apartment with large rooms, tall ceilings and a balcony overlooking the Budapest Eye. The best part of our apartment – besides my top notch roommates, Kitty Kat and The Princess – is that I have enough space to get unpacked and have a clean room – something I never achieved in Split. Stepping outside we see that we’re on a cobblestone street lined with restaurants and shops, and it is just the cutest thing ever. Princess and I meet up with the breakfast crew for brunch at a beer garden and the Dinster sums it all up by refusing to stop saying how happy she is. After brunch we wander to the Danube, where the Red Bull Air Racing Championships are taking place – awfully fitting for the arrival of the Earharts if you ask me. We cap the day off with our city preview, where we learn that Hungarian is a very dirty language. After that, we sample the local cuisine, find a bar with a pool table, sample the local libations, and head off to bed.
Photo cred MRandall
This city is b-e-a-utiful, with every turn revealing old world architecture mixed with a big city feel, and my walk to the workspace is no different. Each day I get to round the corner and cross the courtyard in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica on my way to be the productive human that none of you believe I’m actually achieving. It’s July 4th, and our city team has arranged a day at the water park for us, so after some work at the cafe, Duffs, Yogi and I head to meet the crew. I’ve just removed the dressing from my fresh ink, so I pass on the partaking of the community water slides, but while I’m just chillin with the group, the Dutch Lover convinces Duffs and I to join on a pub crawl of the local ruin bars that evening. The ruin bars are an interesting story, as they were created out of a need to repurpose old bombed out structures from the war, and the tour begins and ends at one that takes up an entire city block and is three stories high. This place is a maze of rooms, each one with a different theme and soundtrack, and it isn’t long before we’ve all lost each other. After meeting some football players from England (actual football, not soccer), a guy with called himself Christmas, and a Belgian in town for a festival, I give up on my quest to find my crew and Taxify (Buda’s Uber) it home to prep for my Cali trip. (See Life in the Pit Lane)
After losing all of Monday with a 9 hour time change and 23 hours of flying, I arrive back on Tuesday and make the best decision I’ve made in the city so far and buy a transit pass. Home just in time to unpack and cross the aforementioned courtyard to the workspace, I hop on a call to meet my new fearless leader at HPC. RY had arranged an event for us and I’m running late – I’m also still figuring out the transit system, so after an exhaustive search for the subway station and an initial hop on a train going the wrong way, I miss the rural bus that is supposed to carry me to our city leader’s mom’s house, where we are having traditional Hungarian cuisine prepared with ingredients all grown in a local garden. Not one to miss out on that, our city leader guides me via WhatApps onto the correct bus and the sweetest little Hungarian lady ensures that I get off on the correct stop 35 minutes outside of the city. Kiwi is waiting to walk me to the house, where we chat with the ladies that make up this cooking club while they prepare Goulash and other dishes for us over an open fire pit in the backyard.
I have another call at 21:00, so I hustle back to the workplace, where I’m once again persuaded to join the crew out on the town. Damn Whatsapp group chats. I make the 5 minute walk back across the Basilica to drop off my valuables, and on my way back to 360 bar, I’m intercepted by a group of Remotes drinking at the steps of the church. Plans here change on a dime, so I join them instead and we run through bottle after bottle of local wine until the rain starts to come down. As the party retreats under an grove of trees, I venture out into the middle of the courtyard and stand in the rain, soaking in every drop and every second of this beautiful experience. It was a light drizzle at that point, not the steady rain that occurs when Marky talks me, Momma Joe and his visiting girlfriend into joining the birthday girl MRandall out for a drink, trekking nearly 20 minutes and being soaked to the bone by the time we get to them – but I couldn’t have been happier about it. Remy and his Russian beauty are there as well, along with Wake Jeber who has lived to tell the tales of Pamplona. We toast the birthday girl, I struggle through a convo with some traveling Italians, and call it a night VERY early (late) in the AM.
Jet lagged and partied out, I didn’t start the next day until 14:30. I was feeling like a very non-productive human being, so I ventured out and bought some running shoes to take a 4 mile breathtaking first run in almost 6 months around Budapest. Not my best time, but I kept getting distracted by the amazing views. I have another call and some invoicing to do, so Marky and I run the night shift at the workspace until each of us is too hungry to continue. Agreeing it would be our best bet to try to find something before midnight, we close up shop and take a left down the main drag, where we stumble upon a late night spot, order the meat on meat platter, and grab a few happy hour drinks to sip on. Akvarium Klub is a local spot, well known for people taking some drinks, taking their shoes off and dipping their feet in glass bottomed the pool that houses a bar underneath. When in Rome – or Budapest….
After partaking in the local customs and having some chats about life before, during and after RY, we decide to venture over to the Danube to scope out a light show I had literally run across earlier in the day. The show had been set up for the upcoming FINA World Championships this weekend, which we will miss while we are in Prague, but we did get a sneak peek of the light show, and this was happening across the way:
Breathe easy Lovers, you are now caught up on the first half of the Budapest version of my year long adventure. I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately that seem to include the inquisition of regrets and whether or not I have any. The answer is no. This trip is the best decision I could have made for myself at this point in my life. Every day I have to keep reminding myself that this is in fact my life, and it is incredible and beautiful, and I get to share this experience in real life with 47 other amazing souls, and virtually with all of you, my Lovers of Random. I hope I’m doing the journey some justice, because even if I broke down every moment of every day for you, it still would’t come close… there are just some things that words and pictures can’t capture.