I spent a wonderful week traveling though Hungary and Austria with four fabulous girls. I had forgotten how much I loved traveling until this trip. We took Orange Ways and Student Agency buslines from Prague-Budapest, Budapest-Vienna, and Vienna-Prague. Both lines are affordable and actually faster than a train. We got free cappuccinos and English movies and wi-fi on the buses!
In Budapest we stayed at Thumbs up! Hostel, which I would recommend to anyone. It is small and welcoming. The guy who owns it loves his city and helping out travelers in any way he can. Plus, we got free breakfast and drip coffee! That's always a bonus, especially here in Central Europe where instant coffee is sold more than the actual beans.
In Vienna we couch surfed on couches and beds and blow-up mattresses at a friend-of-a-friend's flat. I had never done it before, and I guess in a way I still haven't, as I sort of knew of these people. But it was a wonderful experience! Their flat was close to the city-center and metro, plus it was great to see inside some of the apartment buildings in Vienna.
Vienna is now on my list of favorite European cities (along with Prague, Florence, Edinburgh, and Paris). The city had an abundance of markets, men, and museums. The city is quite large, larger than Prague, but still holds a small town feel. The Naschmarkt is the largest market in Europe and on Saturdays they have a whole selection of flea market finds! I bought a little skeleton key for one euro. I couldn't resist. There were quite a lot of other items I wanted, but either couldn't afford them or couldn't transport them back to Prague.
Austrian men, too, are quite a find. They have their own sense of style and really know how to use it. They have a much darker complection than Czech men and look scruffy without looking downright dirty. Czech men on the other hand are scruffy, but also greasy and gross, with hair longer than mine. I must say, if you are looking for a European man, go to Vienna. There are lots to choose from!
(which I am not, by the way ;)
Budapest was beautiful, but I was not as impressed with it. We did find out, however, that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were in town as Jolie directs her first film. It's about the Serbian-Bosnian conflict. (She would direct something like that) She didn't get permission to actually film in Bosnia, so she chose Budapest instead. The whole family is there for the time being. I'm starting to think that movie stars are following us around Europe. ;)
After a day and a half in Budapest, we took a short train ride down to Szentendre, a little village along the Danube bend. It was such a lovely day for us. Clear skies and temperate weather. The town had a quaint feel; it really reminded me of all the Italian villages I've seen. We spent the afternoon getting lost down small streets, eating ice cream, watching boats pass on the river, and taking photos of ever picturesque angle of the town. I would highly recommend this village to anyone traveling in the area. Budapest is great, but it's just another big city. Szentendre is special and it knows it.
More to come!