Budapest with Besties

This post is a little out of order because I’m completely skipping over our settling in time in our new home, but I’ll definitely get back to it. There is so much to write about when you settle into a new place, and all the strange and funny things that happen in the first few days. Hopefully I’ll get to that post in the next few days, but this post is focused on our family vacation in Budapest.

Our summer had been so chopped up with going place to place, that Budapest was the longest we’d stayed in one place for basically the whole summer. We booked it back in May when I found super cheap tickets (35 Euro a piece!) to Budapest during the week our friends (The Sanders) would be there. We booked a place near their’s and enrolled Paul in the same camp as their kids. I guess you could say we sort of hijacked their vacation, but I was just as excited to see them as see Budapest.

So after less than a week in our new home of Pristina, we jumped in a cab on Friday night and headed to the airport. It was a quick flight, just 1.5 hours and landed in Budapest around 11pm that night. It was easy enough to find a cab and find our Airbnb, although not so easy to haul all our stuff up three flights of stairs around midnight. We took a quick look around drank some water and went to bed pretty tired as it was so late.

We woke up relatively early on that Saturday morning, and Donnie went out to find coffee and breakfast while Paul and I relaxed in the apartment. We decided to have a relaxing morning at home instead of going out to explore, which was fine with me. Around 2pm we decided to go have some Pho at a nearby shop and also do some grocery shopping for fear of stores being closed on Sunday. (We found out they aren’t!) And then hauled our grocery stuff back up all those stairs. We mostly just chilled the rest of the day, which was a little tricky because it was kinda warm in our place, but we did our best.

Sunday was the day the Sanders were arriving, so I got myself up and out for a run early-ish while it was still a little bit cool. Our place was on the Buda side of the Danube, so I got to take in all the sights as I ran down the river across from Pest. That parliament building is pretty spectacular, as well as all the bath houses. When I got home, we had breakfast and got ready for the day. We were hoping to meet the Sanders’ for lunch, but they weren’t due until later that day, so we geared up and took the metro over to a shopping district in Pest. I needed a new wallet, and I found a few other new things at Lacoste and after spending a little too much money, we were ready for a break. We sat and people watched and had refreshments (some really awesome burgers) before heading back to our place for a siesta before our friends got there. When they got checked into their place, we met up with them as soon as possible! Donnie went with JC to go park their car for the week, and I took Paul over to hang with Christopher and Scarlett. It had been too long and I was sooo happy to hug these wonderful human beings and Jess and I jumped right in with chatting while the kids played. Soon enough, the boys summoned us to meet them at beer garden across the river, so we gathered up the kids jumped on the subway and walked over there. We enjoyed craft beer (NE IPA’s and Sours!) on the Danube with some yummy burgers and nachos. It was so fulfilling to be altogether again.

The next day was Monday, the first day of summer camp for the kids. We got up and walked Paul over, checked him in and got him settled before meeting up with Jess and JC dropping their kids off. Jess, Donnie and I went for a run on the river again, but this one was much harder. It started pouring down rain on us about halfway through and it was relentless the whole way home. Jess and I lost Donnie in the process, and we waited on the street for a while before giving up and heading home to get cleaned up. Donnie was waiting for me on the steps of our apartment (thank goodness!) and we got warmed up with showers and then promptly fell asleep for naps. We met back up again later that day at a super cool craft beer pub called Monyo, just across the river from us. We tasted their yummy brews and chatted with some other people there and before we knew it it was time to go pick up the kids from camp. Unfortunately, it had started raining again and none of us were prepared for it. Jess and I made a dash for the subway, while Donnie and JC arranged to have pizza delivered to Monyo. Jess and I got creative with rain gear (we bought trashbags from Spar) and gathered the kids back to dinner. It was a fun adventure, and Paul says it was his favorite moment of the trip…wearing trashbags as rain coats. We got lots of laughs from strangers, but we stayed mostly dry! After dinner, we were pretty beat, so we went our separate ways with intentions of meeting up the next day.

By Tuesday, I was determined to do some touristy things. we hadn’t seen really any of Budapest (besides what I’d observed on my runs), and I wanted to see some stuff! After dropping the kids, going for a run and then cleaning ourselves up, we met up for lunch at the Pho place we’d lunched at before. It was just as good, and a great way to plan what we wanted to do. From there we stopped for some juice, then took a tram over to the base of the Fisherman’s Bastian and Matthias Church to take in the views. We had to do some hiking up a steep hill, but the views were worth it. We wandered around amongst the tourists, took pictures, did some shopping and then walked back down to enjoy some Belgian beers before it was time to go get the kiddos again. We decided to have dinner back at our place, and Donnie headed home to prep while Jess and I went to the camp and brought the kids back to our place. While the kiddos enjoyed a movie and hotdogs, the adults enjoyed wine and a massive cheese plate that Donnie had prepared. It was a lovely evening, spoiled only a little by a noise complaint (we had to have all the windows open for air flow due to hot temps). We sang and talked about starting a subway band and generally had a wonderful time. It’s always so fun to be together, even in simple situations like this. The kids were getting sleepy, so eventually Jess and JC took Scarlett home and the boys had a sleepover (they literally just slept). It was such a fun day.

Wednesday was probably the hottest day, and I was pretty tired after our run. I ran on the opposite side of the river this time, to get different views and hopefully stay more in the shade. No such luck in the shade, but there were some really beautiful views of the Bastion we’d visited the day before. After such a hot run, I needed rest, so we slept a little and then met up with Jess and JC to tour the Terror museum. The line was long and in direct sun, and we almost ditched the idea in favor of cold beer, but we stuck it out and it was worth it. It was similar to the Holocaust museum in DC, but focused on Hungary during WWII and afterwards during their period of strife related to Soviet rule. It was pretty gruesome and very well organized. The building the museum was housed in was the actual headquarters of a lot of the terrorist groups that ruled in Hungary during those times, which made it all the more surreal. It was heavy to say the least, and by the time we were done, it was time to head back to our part of town to get the kids all set before the adults had a night out. Jess and I got dinner supplies and kids, then headed home to get ready. Jess had secured a babysitter for that evening, and Donnie, Paul and I walked over to their apartment around 6pm. We headed out for pre-dinner drinks including a stop for margaritas (it was so hot!!), then to a really cool beer bar called Hopaholic. From there we had a delicious meal at the cutest Italian restaurant. We had intended on going out afterwards, but we decided it was best just to head home and call it a night.

Thursday we mostly did our own things. Donnie and I skipped our run and headed out to IKEA to pick up a few things, had some yummy Doner kebaps and then rested most of the day. I met up with Jess for an amazing al fresco dinner at a place called Hadik right around the corner. I am so thankful for our friendship, and I’m so happy to be closer to her geographically.

Friday morning we had to run, pack and clean up our place, but we managed to get all that done by 11:30am. We hauled our luggage down to Jess and JC’s place before heading out for our last day in Budapest. We’d wanted to make some stops to try some more yummy brews, but most of the beer places didn’t open until 4pm So after a delicious lunch at a food truck alley down town (I had goulasch in a breadbowl, Jess had kimchi and fries, JC had a teriyaki rice burger, and Donnie had traditional Langos), we made our way back to Monyo, then the beer garden we’d been to the first evening. It was a good way to end the trip, but my travel nerves were settling in and I was ready to head to the airport. Donnie and JC left to go get the kids, and Jess and I finished up our beers before walking across the bridge back to their place. We said our goodbyes on the street in front of their apartment, sad to go, but knowing that we’ll see them again soon. I can speak for both Donnie, Paul and I when we say we always have fun with the Sanders. It’s the closest Paul has to cousins, and I’ve said that they are like our ‘soulmate’ couple. They are family. There’s an understanding and love between us all and I was so happy to have that time with them.

I love that we’re just a quick plane ride away from Budapest because I know that we’ll see this family and this city soon. There is still so much to see and do and experience there, and I can’t wait until the next time!


Much love to all, J

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