Recently I spent 22 days navigating my way through Europe. After previously exploring the major powerhouse cities, I was eager to dive a bit deeper into Europe’s less traversed gems. Budapest, Hungary topped that list and by no means did it disappoint. The architecture was the first thing that drew me to this city, namely its waterfront, gothic-goddess parliament building: Országház. I just had to get there. From Rome we took a quick, one-hour, flight to Budapest on Ryan Air for just over $100 USD. We hit the ground running - Expelling the most out of our short 4 ½ days there.
Budapest is geographically split down the center by the Danube River. The western side, Buda, is described as being characteristically a bit quieter, residential and less walkable with its many steep hills. Pest, just east of the hydro-divider, booms with culture, nightlife, eateries and more. We stayed in an AirBnb in the district of Terézváros in Pest - an area just a stone's throw away from the bustling train station and electric after-hours.
Grabbing a beer and football match locally at Cech In is always a great afternoon pick-me-up. There seems to be a restaurant on every corner in that area. You will never go hungry in Hungary! I try to immerse myself in the culture and cuisine of the cities I visit. It brings me closer to the people and climate surrounding me. To the same extent, it is interesting to explore how other countries recreate cuisines of the world using their own regional resources. Pop in to Iguana Bar and Grill if you want to see how the Hungarian’s do Mexican food. We left fat and happy! My sweet tooth found a new friend in Budapest. Something that Hungarians do very well is confections! An afternoon slice of cake is celebrated - stay a while over at New York Cafe for the most visually stunning and grandiose midday treat.
There is a quote that speaks to me most when evaluating my philosophy behind travel:
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted."
When traveling, it is important for me to connect to my surroundings organically. To best understand my surroundings, I seek higher ground. I love to get the full, 360-degree view of a new place in hopes to cement my new relationship. I study its patterns, eyes darting across roof tops, and take my moment above the noise to bond. In Budapest, you can best do this atop St. Stephens Basilica. You get insane views of the city for less that $2!
Being that the Danube is the city's main vein, seeing the city from amongst its winding tide is essential. The highlight of our time in Budapest was a sunset river cruise on the Danube from Legenda; Duna Bella Cruise. The experience was 3,900 HUF which translates to $13.95 USD. Insanely affordable. The reflective water during golden hour elevated the landscape entirely. It was the perfect way to kick our tired feet up for an hour and a half and just sit with the city on fire.
While having a quick recharge at our AirBnb, I connected over social media with one of my closest childhood friends sharing that her, and her husband, would be making their way into Budapest the following day. We hadn’t seen each other in what felt like almost 10 years, but, without a single beat, we scheduled dinner together for the following night. We caught up over delicious wine and food at Pesti Disznó before making our way to an infamous Budapest “Ruin Pub”, Simpla Kert. Ruin Pubs can be found scattered all over Budapest. They are just as they sound - old, distressed looking buildings that have been given a second chance as artistic, and creative spaces to enjoy a cheap drink. Painted doodles tatter the walls, with random and eclectic furnishings grouped in every corner creating cozy nooks to congregate with friends. Absolutely a unique moment in Budapest by night. I'll never forget reconnecting with my friend in this most intimate and artful way.
Thinking about travelling to Budapest? My advice is to simply GO! It is absolutely Europe’s best kept secret. The US Dollar goes far there, the scenery is stunning, the history and culture, rich. I cannot say enough.
If you are visiting in summer (as I did) be prepared for warm, humid days. Sunscreen and water are absolute musts in your travel bag. Aside the essentials, my carry on also carries my iPad for quick researching, my Fuji x100t for all the memory magic, a pen and Field Notes booklet for journaling special moments as they happen and snack bars or trail mix for sustenance!
The Penny Perspective’s sole purpose is to encourage young people to “thoughtfully use your penny to gain some perspective.” To say yes to new experiences and achieve their travel dreams, one savings decision at a time. For me, I hold myself accountable each and every day.
I have changed my relationship with material things to obtain my abstract dreams. When I am out shopping I ask myself - “Do I need this?” If it will not nourish, enrich or impact my everyday life, I typically leave it on the shelf for someone else. No, I don’t need that 10th white candle for my living room. No, I don’t need that second pair of black sandals when my first pair still work. Yes, I can survive without that extra pair of jeans, one more lumpy (but totally cute) throw pillow or extra tube of lipstick that I will more than likely lose under the passenger seat of my car.
To be able to say "yes" to the privilege of travel, I practice simple daily discipline at home without depriving myself - all for the greater good! Don’t buy things - pay into unique moments! Invest your dollar; Enrich your life.
My name is Sara De Monbrun - a true Californian, raised in Los Angeles and flourishing as a young adult in San Francisco. I have been ever-creating art whilst carefully curating my best-self since as long as I can remember. (Both continuous works) I spend most days toggling between moody, over saturated thoughts and pure, sun-drenched and ferocious zeal. The things that bring me to life are family, friends, flights, fine art and food.