I’m back with the next and final instalment of the highlights of my Eurotrip! Well, providing I don’t write a novel for each city, which I can’t promise. 😉
I’m going to be honest here. Budapest confused the hell out of me for a bit. We were both super excited to head to Hungary, but the first day we were a bit disappointed. Between getting put into a hostel room decorated with all the spare furniture (Hoarder’s Anonymous much?!) and there being almost no English, we weren’t sold. However, there were a few awesome moments that changed our minds! As most European cities, it ended up winning my heart.
- Matthias Church – the church was over the bridge in Buda, and was incredibly beautiful. It was quite a walk up to it as it’s set on a hill, but when we turned around, blubbering messes and gasping for air, the view was breathtaking. Had to give it credit for that!
- Szimpla Kurt (ruin pub) – Budapest is renowned for it’s ruin pubs, which occupy abandoned warehouses and are made into really cool, quirky hangouts. We headed to the oldest one, Szimpla Kurt, for dinner and drinks, and it did not disappoint! The whole place was dimly lit, with eclectic, mismatched furniture everywhere and cool ornaments. We were lucky enough to catch an open mic session on that night. Check one out if you ever head to Hungary!
- Szechenyi baths – these were the first thermal baths in Pest, and were amazing! Although a little pricey to get in, and having to hire old swimmers (cringe…), it was definitely worth it. There’s nothing like taking a dip in 40 degree water, with steam rising off of it, when it’s 7 degrees outside – perfect. The place is huge with different little baths scattered everywhere to explore.
- Langos – this delicious delicacy deserves a point of its own, I’m not even kidding. Langos is deep fried flatbread, with different toppings – sweet or savoury. We went for Nutella, and it changed my life forever. It was so huge, I could probably easily wrap myself in it all burrito-like. Ultimate #foodgasm!
C’mon, admit it: you’re all wondering if it’s just like it is in the Sound of Music. The answer? YES. Salzburg was this quaint, absolutely stunning little town, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It was love at first sight for me. Because of the high altitude, it was much chillier than the other cities we’d visited, but also much quieter and was a nice, relaxing change. Oh Austria, you’ve done it again!
- Mountain ridge hike – okay, that sounds incredibly vague probably because it is: I can’t remember the name of the actual ridge! But it took us through wintry forests, to a lookout with the view to beat all views, really. Cue mouth dropping open. The whole town was just nestled in between these majestic mountains, it was like it was a scene from a snow globe! May or may not have wanted to break out into Maria-esque swirling from Sound of Music.
- Nighttime shenanigans – both of the nights in Salzburg we just did really random, low-key stuff, but had heaps of fun. The first night, we took advantage of the hostel playing the Sound of Music (which they do every night, no joke) – it was the first time I’d seen it, and adored it! The second night we hit up a local pub for dinner for some more traditional Austrian food, and hijacked the jukebox to play some old school favourites (e.g. Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69”, classic). Then Tom decided to film me taking an apricot Schnapps shot. I almost died. It is now on Facebook. 😛
Ah, Venice… a gorgeous little town, but a sneaky one at that. We spent the least amount of time here, but probably spent the most money. Because it’s such a touristy place, prices are magnified times a thousand. One single lunch ended up costing us 76 euros – I couldn’t breathe for about an hour! In saying that, the azure canals, gondolas and town in general are so picturesque and something to see. I probably wouldn’t go back, but am determined to see more of Italy in the future!
- Traditional Italian food – Okay, you guys knew this one was coming. The food here was to die for! I got to have some of the usual suspects: pizza, bruschetta, cannoli and lasagne, and not even ashamed to admit we finished up both dinners with gelato 😉 (side note: Baci gelato, get on that!) We dined in gorgeous little family-owned trattorias, we got free Campari and bread too! An awesome moment was when we got a waiter called Fabio, who said, “mamamia!” quite exuberantly. I was fangirling, not gonna lie.
- The scenery – the canals were such an amazing blue, and were lined with shops and restaurants (or should I say ristorante? Clearly a pro, step aside). It was like I’d stepped into a Lonely Planet guide or something, Venice was exactly like you see in all the photos.
It scared me how much Barcelona reminded me of Sydney, I felt like I was home! It’s a city based around the water, with lots of wide, open roads filled with the popular shops, like H&M and Forever 21, that we saw in most cities. There are some really interesting facades by Gaudi scattered around the city. We booked a room in a penthouse in a really nice square through Air BnB, and our host was a hilarious and super-chatty older Spanish woman. She was lovely, and made us breakfast every morning and welcomed us with a bottle of champagne. 🙂
- Shopping and Mercat de la Boqueria – Barcelona was another city with a fantastic shopping scene. I may have dragged poor Tom to a hundred and one shops, but he was a good sport – bless. Not only is there a massive mall with all the shops we don’t get in Australia, but countless main streets lined with them as well. Mercat de la Boqueria is a great little food market with lots of fruit, veggies, meat, sweets, yoghurt, juices, etc.
- Classy dinner & relaxing on our private balcony – the perks of staying in a square with heaps of classy restaurants? Walk down our (105) stairs, eat, done deal. Downsides? Had to get out of my pyjamas and put real person clothes on/have a shower. All jokes aside, we ate at one called La Roma, and you could get a set menu with 3 courses for awesome value. We ended the night sippin’ champers on our balcony. Couldn’t have done any better.
Madrid was definitely my favourite Spanish city out of the two. Dare I say it reminded me a little bit of Melbourne? I loved its little streets compared to Barcelona’s giant ones, and it was bursting with local joints and boutique shops, unlike Barcelona’s chain stores. The weather was so much warmer, at about 15 degrees – the locals were much more decked out in winter clothes than me! I even wore thongs one night (bad choice, almost lost a few toes), and got more than 3 disgusted/confused looks. #strayarepresent
- Flamenco dance & sangria – on our second last night, we had the opportunity to watch a flamenco dancer perform with complementary sangria, all for 13 euros. It was at a little bar and there was a small audience, and we were able to ask questions afterwards. The dancer was spectacular, I couldn’t believe just how much coordination and speed you need, I was beyond impressed! There was also a fantastic guitarist and singer to accompany her. Sangria was a nice touch, too 😉
And, just because I’m one of those people who get overly excited about snow because I’ve never really seen it, here’s some photos of the Swiss Alps I snapped on our way from Salzburg to Venice (aka, the closest we got to snow. My face was literally against the window, smiling like a lunatic):