If you decide to go away on vacation for one month, as we did, be prepared to have a ton of work piled up waiting for you. This was my case, at least, but I finally managed to find the time to publish my first update in a series of… few about the vacation itself and the places that we visited. Yes, I know that this blog should be about Romania only, but maybe once you move in here you will want to follow in our footsteps and do a similar vacation. It’s really worth it!
We’ll start with the first two stops: Budapest and Vienna. We spent three nights in each and they were so different now when I look back at everything that I just can’t believe it.
I was sure that Budapest was going to be one of the worst cities that we have on our list and, boy, I was wrong! Budapest was actually so surprising, so beautiful, so amazing, that actually ended up as one of my most favorite destinations and clearly a city (or, better said, a country – Hungary) that must be visited again!
We booked our stay through AirBnb and we were really lucky with the apartment: it was very modern inside, but in an old building, right in the heart of Budapest, near the Oktogon metro station and within walking distance to some of the attractions in the city center. Plus, Hooters was just around the corner. Ha!
What I liked the most about Budapest was the fact that you can just go walking down the streets and you’d have a ton to see. The old buildings with impressive facades, with columns and that old charm… that was something that I had absolutely loved about Budapest! Plus, the fact that it’s so filled with history and awesomeness that you can simply go out for a walk and end up in one of the most amazing areas ever.
I say that from my own experience: one afternoon, I told my wife we should go for a short walk. “Yes, we’re just going around the building, no need to take the camera with us!” Rookie traveler mistake #1. We ended up in an amazing park with some of the most impressive statues I have ever seen and eventually reached a fairy-tale caste – the Vajdahunyad Castle, pictured below.
We also visited the Zoo – which is really impressive and Eric (you know him as Baby Romanian from previous articles) really loved it. We went there a bit too early, because Junior woke us up at 6:30 AM EVERY DAY… so some of the animals were still sleeping and attractions closed, but it was still a really fun experience.
We also rode a funicular for the first time ever to visit the Buda Castle. Impressive, huge and, in my opinion, impossible to defeat back in the days, no matter where the attackers came from. If you’re a zombies fan like myself, you’ll know, once you see it, that it’s the perfect place to be in when the zombie apocalypse strikes.
Prices were really low, way less than what I had expected. Restaurant prices were close to what we have in Romania (which makes them really low), but some supermarket products were way cheaper, including organic food and baby products and food.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Budapest – it was a pleasant surprise for me, a big surprise and I am happy we didn’t skip our stay here as I initially wanted.
After Budapest’s extremely pleasant surprise, an unpleasant one came from Vienna. I’ve been here a bit over 10 years ago and I know I loved it a lot. Things were completely different now, when I was welcomed to a city where green spaces have been taken over by buildings and invaded by people. Following the relaxed, chill vibe we were getting in Budapest (and found in most of the other cities too), people in Vienna seemed to always be in a hurry. They didn’t smile, they seemed stressed and upset. It reminded me a lot of Bucharest, with the suffocating concrete jungle and probably that’s why I didn’t like it that much.
I went there with two goals in mind: visit the Madame Tussaud’s museum and the Schonbrunn area, including the zoo. And that we did – and had an amazing time in the process!
Schonbrunn is absolutely fabulous – we chose not to visit the castle itself as I had already been there and our kid would not find it that enjoyable, so instead we decided to explore and enjoy the park and the Zoo. We spent an entire day there – probably around 8 hours – Eric even took a nap out there in the nature in his mother’s arms, and we still didn’t get to see it all. But it’s truly spectacular and enough of a reason to visit Vienna.
And I also loved Madame Tussaud’s!
Still, I left Vienna with a bitter taste. It was way below expectations, it was dirty, it was chaotic and it even smelled bad everywhere, especially in the subway trains. But, I filled up on Asian food (I am a fan and we have none in the city I live in), so I won’t call it a compete failure.
In part two (coming sooner than this one – hopefully), we’ll talk about Munchen, Verona and Trieste. So stay tuned!