As I write this blog post, I am sitting in a hammock in this out-of-the-way absolutely wonderful, serene, hippie-like hostel in Budapest, as it is my last day before heading to Sopron to meet my group and begin the EPW! When I came to Budapest, I was alone, but now I am with Zoe, whom I met when I first arrived and decided to drop her travel plans to walk the European Peace Walk with me, especially since my day was not yet full. Life is truly too short to not adventure and challenge yourself!
The beautiful Zoe on our hike to The Citadel in Budapest! (Check out the sick shoes!)
Feeling a mix of nerves and excitement for the 22 days to come ahead (including the two optional stops), but since being here at the Shantee House, I definitely feel an inner peace that is just so calming. The house is covered in trinkets from travels, the walls are bright yellow with rainbow stairs, the garden in the back sports a hammock and a meditation structure, and the people are just so dope. I had a great conversation with Bori, who works at the house, that reminded me of why the EPW was created in the first place. She told when the Shantee House was first created, there were very few backpackers because Hungary's borders were closed. There was a lot of political turmoil in Budapest when the Soviets ruled the city, and uprisings in 1956 left much of the city in destruction. In the next decades, however, the city began to rebuild and tourism also began to rise. In 1989, the Iron Curtain between the Hungarian-Austrian border came down, people began to move freely between countries, and both Budapest and Hungary began to grow and develop! For her, it's been really amazing meeting people from all walks of life who come to the house. We also talked about the atmosphere of peace that the house has, and how it is so important to cultivate your inner garden, and make sure that you are at peace with yourself. Our conversation made me think of not only how the walk will allow me to be at peace with myself and nature, but also the larger mission of the EPW that should be celebrated and remembered. Good vibes, good vibes :)
The inside of the Shantee House!
SO this was an amazing place to stop for the night before we leave to Sopron tomorrow! I did have two nights in Budapest in the city center, however, which was definitely a very different and wild experience, and if you would like to hear about it, feel free to read on!
Budapest is actually two cities, Buda and Pest, with the Danube river that flows through the middle, dividing the two. The Chain Bridge, connecting Óbuda ("old" Buda), Buda, and Pest, was opened in 1849, and later in 1872, the three separate settlements were unified into the capital city of Hungary!
As you walk around Budapest, you can definitely feel a different vibe with atmosphere and architecture in different places, reflecting the two unique cities, and making Budapest such an interesting place to explore! The city center in "Pest" reminded me of medieval times and across the bridge into "Buda" had more small town village-like feels. I met some wonderful people at the hostel I was staying at: Jess from Australia, Allie from Wisconsin, Benedict from Germany, and of course, Zoe from Oklahoma! We explored the city together as a group and went out together at night (I will not go into the stories of the night, but if ya ask me, I shall not hold back). The day we explored around, we walked up The Citadel, went to the Buda Castle, and saw the Matisse church: check out pictures in the gallery below!
Things to remember about Budapest:
-Zoe, Benedict, and I went to the post office (Posta) to send some of Zoe's stuff home and everybody there was so sweet, and at one point, we had the entire office --albeit tiny--helping us translate Hungarian, figure out sizes and packing, etc. Go people!!
-Norbert, the archery guy, on top of the Citadel! He is a sharp shooter and has always wanted to travel to Salt Lake City--hopefully next year :)
-Cooking some #klassic traveling food from Hungarian goulash to eggs with this paprika sauce to frozen vegetables (to get a balanced diet!)
-Stopping in random places along our walk & meeting some amazing people at hostels (met someone I had a mutual friend with--go figure! The world is both small and large waiting to be explored :) )
While I was not able to go to a bathhouse during my time here, Budapest has certainly left me Hung(a)ry for more (sorry for already used this joke) -- I will be back soon!
Crazy fact: These stone lions, decorating the Chain Bridge, were built in 1852 and survived through the Battle of Budapest during WWII!