Tag Archives: Budapest

Budapest and Vienna



New Years Day, after a fairly late start, Megan, Kaitlyn, Robert, and I got on a 3:00pm train headed for Budapest. After our 7 hour train ride, we arrived in the glorious capitol of Hungary and our first mission was to find food. Not just any food though, American food. We ended up at the TGI Friday’s in Deak Ferenc Ter and gorged on big juicy burgers. Witht his meal also came a revelation, I don’t do salt as well as I did before. Western food is way too salty for me and even though the burger was amazing, it was just too intense for my dilapidated taste buds.

The three days we were there were filled with showing Robert around the city, since he had never been, and then meeting up with Meg and later on, Kevin.

After our three day visit, Kevin, Robert, Meg and I headed to Vienna for the last leg of our winter vacation. After checking into our hostel, we decided to spend the first day just roaming around the city. We walked through the downtown area which included many parks/gardens, museums, and shops. We finished day one off by enjoying a traditional Viennese schnitzel and some beer.

Day two brought some awful weather. It was raining fairly hard all day and we were soaked by the end of it. Since it was such a nasty day outside, after roaming around and finding a great bagel place to sit down and eat some lunch, we decided on the Albertina Museum which has an exhibit on Monet and Picasso. It was really cool to see so many beautiful works of art and to learn about the history behind said art. Due to the weather, and the overall dampness of everything, we decided to call it an early day and just lounged around the hostel until midnight when we went back out to get some food so I can officially celebrate Christmas in Balac family style by breaking my Christmas Eve fast.

Day three’s weather was much nicer than the previous day’s. Although the temperatures dropped quite a bit, it was dry which let us roam around the city freely. We first headed to the Hofburg Imperial Palace outside of the center  where the Hapsburg family used to live and took an hour long tour of the building. The building was enormous and very well preserved. The coolest thing that we saw within the palace was the room where a 6 year old Mozart played his first concert. It was such an amazing feeling to stand in the same location that Eurpean royalty once sat while listening to a child prodigy play the piano. After the palace tour, we walked around the vast grounds of the palace which are filled with gardens, zoos, lakes, and even a human maze.

After finishing at the palace, we hurried to the opposite side of town to the cemetery where Beethoven is buried. Unfortunately, we arrived around 4:30 and the sun was almost set that we barely saw the names on the tombstones, let alone found Beethoven’s grave within the enormous complex where over 2 million people are buried.

The last part of our day was going to be listening to a concert at one of the music halls called Muzikverein where an orchestra was performing a medley of several classical pieces but not before we enjoyed some tasty sushi that we have all been missing very much during our service. The concert, enjoyed from our 5 Euro standing room area was extraordinary. It was probably one of my favorite experiences, to enjoy beautiful music in such a culturally rich city.

After a 12 hour day of travel back to Romania, we said goodbye and good luck to Robert, who is moving on to a post in Armenia for the next 6 months.

I finally arrived home about 6pm yesterday and have just now warmed up. My apartment had been abandoned for 2 whole weeks and when I entered, it was so cold I could see my breath. After lighting a roaring fire, I settled down to relax when I was called up by one of my students. He asked if I was busy, I said no, he then said that he along with a few other students and friends of mine were going to stop by to welcome me back. I was greeted with about 10 people at my door ranging between the ages of 15-25. We hung out a little in my living room and after they left, I decided to try to go to sleep in the freezing cold apartment under what I consider the thickest comforter I have ever come in contact with along with sweat pants, two sweat shirts, gloves, a scarf, two hats, and an electric heater along with the fire in the soba.

It’s going to be one long and cold winter!


Darcy and Joanna Take On Eastern Europe: Part 1


The day before I was to pick up Joanna and Darcy from the airport in Budapest Joanna informed me that their flight was departing 45 minutes late and that there was a chance that they would not make it to their connection in Helsinki.

I got to the airport just as their plane was supposed to land and after waiting and nervously pacing the arrivals gate for over an hour I decided to try to contact someone that had information. Since i couldn’t get ahold of the girls on their phones, I picked up the information phone only to find out that they could not tell me anything about specific passengers and that I was also at the wrong gate. Apparently there are two arrival gates that aren’t that close to each other and the arrivals board had the flight from Helsinki incorrectly labeled. GREAT! I rushed over to the other side and found the two of them looking distraught and tired as ever.

After getting to the hostel we rested a little and then headed out into the city for some lunch and site seeing. We had an amazing Hungarian lunch and spent the rest of the day walking around and were exhausted by 8pm.

The following day was another big site-seeing day. We went on a 2.5 hour free walking tour of the city which was pretty cool and extremely informational and that was followed by another 2.5 hour communist history tour which I found extremely interesting. It is remarkable how Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary all had very different experiences with what was supposed to be the exact same government.

This was my second time to Budapest and there will definitely be a third. There are so many things that I have yet to get a chance to experience.

The following day was spent back in Romania at my go-to city, Cluj. We walked around and saw the sites, visited the churches and the botanical gardens, and had a great meal together with some authentic Romanian wine. Our night was capped off by a stroll through the city park where Darcy discovered the workout equipment and Joanna found a very comfy bench to nap on.

NYE in Budapest


Every time I go to a foreign city, it becomes my new favorite. I left Sara’s site at 7am and ended up in Budapest at 12:50pm local time. After walking around the train station for about 10 minutes, I finally found Kaitlyn and her friends. After exchanging some lei to the crazy local currency, we headed to kaitlyns apartment. We walked into to the cutesy studio apartment right out of an ikea catalog.

After eating some traditional hungarian food consisting of noodles, sour cream, and cheese, we headed out to see the sights. I usually am not a fan of Capitol cities but this place was beyond gorgeous! We walked through the main square which was packed with people visiting the local Christmas market. We then headed to the Danube where all the lit up buildings and bridges took my breath away.

Our night was fairly low key since we were saving our energy for new years.

Melissa got into town around 5pm on NYE and the festivities officially began. We headed back to the apartment to eat and get ready then went back downtown to ring in the new year. Vorosmarty Ter is the main square in the city and it was horribly packed with people. We found some awesome face masks, bottles of champagne and started to roam around.

After about an hour of roaming around downtown we randomly met a group of guys from Holland. We got to talking to them and I learned that one of them is from Mostar and his dad is from Glamoc which is village right next to my dad’s back in Bosnia. I always get so excited when I meet people from the former Yugoslavia. We talked for a while, wished them a happy new year and went back into the crowd of thousands of partying people. It was absolutely amazing to hear a new years countdown in about 10 different languages and then get covered from spraying champagne from every group of party goers.

After patroning a few more bars, losing an iPhone, and figuring out the public transportation system at 2am, we finally made it back to the apartment and called it a night.

We are headed to Prague tonight and I’ll update soon. Until then, I hope you all had a fabulous new year! Va pup!!!