It feels like yesterday but its now been over a month since we spent a lovely 48 hours in Budapest for my colleague (and friend!) Patricia’s wedding. It’s the same couple we saw marry earlier this year in Sri Lanka, having a second ceremony and bigger event for all the friends and family who couldn’t make it all the way out there.
Setting off on Friday morning for the drive from SE London to Luton airport, ironically the hardest part of our journey was from our own front door to pick another colleague Faisal up who only lives a couple of miles from us but despite the crazy traffic we were soon on our way and had plenty of time to relax with some drinks and food at Luton airport before catching our WizzAir flight to Budapest.
Arriving early evening, the weather was absolutely perfect and would be in the early 30s all weekend long. One of my favourite things about going away – so long as we’re heading somewhere warm – is that lovely balmy feeling which hits you as soon as you step off the plane.
Patricia collected us at the airport and we made our way to central Budapest to find our home for the weekend. Since Pete, Faisal and I were staying all together we decided to find an apartment and managed to get an absolutely stunning one via AirBnB. I’d never used the service before but it was amazing and I’d definitely use them again. Reserving and communication was so swift and helpful, plus we had somewhere we could come and go from right in the centre which was cheaper than the hotels.
A quick change of clothes later and we headed off to one of Budapest’s “ruin bars” for drinks and to meet some other wedding guests. Ruin bars have been springing up in dilapidated buildings previously destined for destruction, creating a quirky, creative and artistic vibe much in keeping with the way the city is evolving since the end of Communism. The one we went to specialised in craft beers and needless to say we found ourselves trying to navigate the tram in the early hours of Saturday morning more than a few sheets to the wind.
Saturday arrived bright and hot and there was only one thing I wanted to do which was to get out there and sightsee. Pete and I set off in the direction of the Danube, arranging to meet Faisal back at the apartment to get ready for the wedding which was at 4.
The streets were fairly quiet and we made our way down Király Street which unbeknown to me is also Budapest’s Design Street, full of interior design and furniture stores, quirky boutiques and art galleries. We came across vintage and flea markets and the whole area had such a great vibe.
As we neared the river it became a lot more touristy and catered more for those who like their creature comforts – designer boutiques and chains that you find anywhere in the world, as well as all the named hotels. I’ve no objection to any of that, it’s just not for me. We carried on and reached the Danube, taking in the stunning views before stopping for a drink at a cafe on the river front. It’s worth adding at this point that Budapest is split in two by the river – we were in Pest with Buda across the river.
After more meandering, we looped back in the direction of our apartment to get ready for the wedding, which had a 1950s theme. Huge thanks to my lovely neighbours who lent me a super 1950s dress. We had great fun getting ready and set off for the venue which was a 2 minute walk round the corner in a former school called Iskola.
The wedding was so much fun as we knew it would be – an informal but moving ceremony, followed by drinks, a buffet-style wedding breakfast, games and dancing. I had a long catch up with one of my former colleagues and now good friend Charlotte. She too is Hungarian and I haven’t seen her since a brief visit back to the UK in autumn 2012, after we went to her wedding in April that year. There were many tears but lots of laughter too.
We eventually made it back to the apartment bleary-eyed at 5am. It was already hot and light as we tried to fall asleep, but conscious that we had to leave for the airport at 1pm, I wanted to see as much as I could and so Pete and I dragged our tired selves out again at 10 and headed off to the castle area of Buda. After a bit of misunderstanding with the trams and buses, we made it up to the top and the views back over the city were simply stunning. We realised then however that even just this area alone needed a whole day for proper exploration so we had a little wander round and made our way back.
Of course the sunshine really makes everywhere look beautiful but I can’t wait to go back to Budapest. The people were friendly, it was very cheap and the architecture and scenery just stunning. I’d definitely recommend visiting this wonderful city and seeing for yourself how much it has to offer.