A Week in Budapest and London

Over the February holidays, I took a week of vacation to Budapest and London, both places I have been before.

My friend Rashida and I took advantage of the February low-season prices, scored a ridiculously cheap airline ticket and an excellently-located AirBnb (click here for a discount off your first stay) near the Basilica, and enjoyed 4 days in the Hungarian capital.

Rashida is a huge foodie, and I enjoy food, so we got along well and went to quite an array of restaurants. Our favorite was Sir Lancelot, a medieval Hungarian-themed style cuisine where the waiters and waitresses dress in traditional clothing, you eat with your hands, and you get to watch performances throughout the evening! We had a blast and I’d recommend that restaurant to anyone in Budapest.

Of course, no trip to Budapest is complete without a few nights out at the famous Budapest ruin bars. This time round we frequented Szimpla Kert and Instant, although we did find ourselves in a few local bars as well, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We even met up with two of my friends from Wisconsin who are now living in western France (and whom also happened to be in Budapest that week!)

Of course after all that heavy food an alcohol, there is no better way to relax than at a Budapest thermal spa, where Rashida and I splurged on full-body massages and relaxation.

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What I enjoyed about our trip is that since we had both been before, neither of us were in a huge rush to “see” or “do” everything. So, we decided to spend an afternoon iceskating.

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Our hands-down favorite activity, however, was spelunking, or caving. Neither of us had ever done this before and therefore we decided to choose the “adventure” option. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it definitely exceeded all expectations. We climbed, slid, slithered, jiggled, moved, and worked our way up and down and around those caves. This activity is not for the claustrophobic, however, but is a must-do in Budapest.

Our trip ended with a tour of parliament (another first for the two of us) as well as a walk around the Great Market. Budapest had recently celebrated 60 years of post-Communism!

After a delayed flight, a spontaneous Uber ride and a brief night’s sleep in Lille, I grabbed the Eurostar and headed to London directly after four days in Budapest (thank goodness our apartment was equipped with a washer and I did not have to even repack my suitcase!)

My good friend Jo has a new flat with a spare room in Zone 2, and graciously let me crash with her. We met for lunch straight away after my arrival, and afterwards I headed to drop my stuff before going the theatre to see Mamma Mia (my guilty pleasure, but hey it was Galentine’s Day. That night, I met with three friends and we had drinks at the oldest pub in London, Ye Old Cheshire Cheese. 

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On Friday, I hit up East London with Jill, who introduced me to the Breakfast Club and Old Spitalfields Market, where I splurged on two dresses and had the most wonderful granola.

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After having lunch with another friend in Westminster, I headed on foot (taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather) to first the bookstore to stock up on some English books (The Circle, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Expatriates, all for my book club here in Lille), before heading over to Mina Lima, an art gallery in Leister Square which is dedicated to the artwork of the Harry Potter films as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The owners were graphic designers who worked on the set. Thanks Amanda for the recommendation!

I spent Friday night at the pub with and Sunday afternoon having high tea with old friends, but on Saturday we hung out in Brixton market (which is fabulous!) night we decided to do something a bit different and unique: We went to a silent disco at the Shard! I actually got the idea from Brenna, but it’s a cool and unique way to spend a Saturday night. It costs quite a bit of money to climb Western Europe’s tallest building anyways, so I figure you may as well do something fun on top of it. I recommend pregaming beforehand, as the booze is a bit expensive (per London prices!) However, the views are exquisite. I’d love to come back in the summer sometime!

Overall, a week was exactly what I needed to recharge and gear up for this next round of school. I think I’m turning a little bit French– I’m already counting down to the next holidays!

Bisous,

Dana

12 thoughts on “A Week in Budapest and London

  1. Looks like you had a fabulous time! Sometimes a trip with no expectations ends up being a blast. I think I’d head to the thermal spa first. Nice!

  2. I love Budapest! I was only there for two nights last year, but I found the city incredibly beautiful, with hearty food to boot! I would love to return and explore it more in depth, perhaps even try the thermal baths! London sounds lovely as well. Glad you had a great February vacation!

    …and like you, I’m already counting down the days until the next holidays. French or not, I think we all look forward to a break!

  3. I’d never even heard of Mina Lima, despite having wandered along that street a fair few times! I’ll have to pay it a visit when I’m back in the UK in the summer. The view from the Shard looks spectacular too – I’ve not been up it, so nice to see someone’s photos of the view!

    1. I hadn’t either but I really enjoyed visiting! I guess it gets insanely crowded on weekends, so stick to weekdays if you can- it’s somewhere you can spend 15 minutes but I think I was there for an hour hahah. #nerd

      The shard was spectacular! The views are stunning. But it’s a steep price to pay to climb, which is why I liked the idea of combining it with something else fun up there

      1. If Platform 9¾ is anything to go by, I can picture it getting pretty crowded! The Shard is definitely a pricey attraction (considering there’s a limit to how long you’re realistically going to want to stand up there taking pictures) – I think whenever else I’ve seen it mentioned, people have opted to eat/ drink in one of the restaurants or bars instead of paying to go right to the top.

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