All Things Budapest, Hungary with Reka: The All Inclusive Guide to History, Travel, and Adventure

In Episode 15, The Travel Brats interview Reka, our wonderful friend from Budapest, Hungary. She shares some background about Budapest, best times to visit, tips on crossing borders in Europe, things to do, people to see, and places to eat. She’s a Budapest local who has all the hacks to make the most out of your Europe endeavors.

Reka was born and raised in Budapest before moving to Tampa for school. She speaks multiple languages and gave us a lot of insight about how the younger generations are speaking more languages, whereas the older generations are more commonly Hungarian speakers. While in school, she was learning at least three languages at a time, English being one of them. 

Travel Brats: Can you describe Budapest? What’s it like there?

Reka said: It’s a combo of history and great architecture. There are a lot of things to do for going out and there’s an active night life. It’s also a good mix between touristy and a local environment. 

Travel Brats: Is it Hungary a big country?

Reka said: It’s a Fairly smaller country, about 10 million people live, but Reka grew up in Budapest 

So it’s Budapest, and then there’s the rest of the country. Budapest is the largest city in Hungary, 2 million people. 

Travel Brats asked: What are your favorite places around Hungary?

Reka: There are smaller towns with tons of history about Budapest, bordering Austria and Slovakia so it’s great for day and weekend trips. 

Travel Brats: What’s it like crossing the borders in Europe?

Reka: It’s very, very easy to do, just checking passports and you’re on your way.

Travel Brats: What kind of currency does Budapest use? 

Reka: It’s surprisingly not the Euro, it’s called the Hungarian Forint. The cost of living is cheaper than in the US.

Travel Brats: What’s the best way to get around the country?

  • Reka: Don’t need a car to get around, traffic, parking is difficult 
  • Public Transportations or taxis if you need to
  • Trains (3 big train stations, double check where you are leaving from, buy ticket online)
  • Backpacking — buy train ticket and it’s valid for a week, 2 weeks, a month

Travel Brats: When is the best time to visit Budapest?

Reka: Summertime is more popular for tourists, it’s a dry heat, and awesome festivals. Winter — it’s very pretty, christmas market, below freezing temperatures 

Travel Brats: What are must do’s when you are in Budapest?

Reka: Some Sightseeing activities are: 

  • Touristy things — 
  • Parliament
  • Chain Bridge
  • Budacastle (Sofia)
  • Seasonal vs. permanent
  • Fisherman’s Architecture Place: very cool church
  • Hero’s Square 3 museums
  • Zoo, lake, arch museum (during the winter, they turn the lakes into an ice skating rink)
  • Ferris Wheel, during the summer 
  • Downtown Budapest
  • Festivals + Artsy + Historical
    • Statue of Liberty

Travel Brats: Best places to Eat?

Reka: Everyone eats at home, not so much fast food, and my family cooks a ton for me when I’m home. There are tons of little pastries places that I love. Some restaurants are:

Signature Liquor:  Palinka and Spicy Wine

Travel Brats: Where should we stay in Budapest? 

Reka: The Hotels downtown are nice and breakfast included or if you are traveling on a budget, there are really cute and fun airbnbs, close to downtown. https://www.airbnb.com/budapest-hungary/stays

Travel Brats: What are your tips to stay safe?

Reka: 

  • Common sense, still pretty busy at night, don’t walk around by yourself at night, call a cab (no Ubers) 
  • During the day, don’t leave your purse or backpack open, for pickpocketing 
  • PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN THE TRAIN CLOSES, wouldn’t recommend taking the night buses — it’s longer, and can be sketchy 
  • Keep cash on you 

A huge thank you to Reka for being our guest and sharing her insight about Budapest and Hungary. Thank you for tuning in. Be sure to follow along our journeys on IG!

Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to me, wished me well, celebrated with me, helped me pack, and has been rooting for while on this journey. I already knew my family and friends were special, but now I’m blown away by how beautiful, deep, and loving all the relationships in my life are. So thank you again and be sure to follow along the Doer’s Diary on IG!

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On July 2nd, I picked up my life along with 39 other volunteers to move to St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent, and Dominica) for the next 27 months. I’m currently in phase one of training for 4 weeks in Babonneau, St. Lucia to become a Primary English Literacy Specialist Volunteer with the Peace Corps to focus on promoting literacy in primary/infant schools. On August 2nd, I will find out what island I’ll be living on for the next two years and that’s where I’ll be for phase 2 and 3 of my training before being sworn in in October. I’ll spend the reminder of my service working at the same school for two years and during that time, I’ll focus on integrating with the community, making lifelong connections, and working with fellow teachers and kiddos from grades 1-3. 

For more information on the volunteers and programs in the Eastern Caribbean!

After weeks of packing up my townhouse, moving 95% of my belonging into a storage unit, and the other 5% in to my mom and stepdad’s house, leaving for the Peace Corps was upon us. I had to fit everything I could possibly need (and then some) into 2 suitcases with a max weight limit of 50 lbs each and one carry on. Let me tell you, that carry was a hiking backpack that weighed as much as I do. The backpack I used was a god-sent, and a best seller on amazon. So check it out, fellow travelers.  

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Packing in and of itself was consuming, and I am currently working on a packing guide once I get settled into the island I’ll be serving on, so I save future volunteers from packing too much or not enough.

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After my first three days of orientation on the island, all the trainees left the comfort of each other’s presence to move into our host family’s homes.

This is where the real fun began. You know the saying: “growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone,” whoever said that definitely knew what they were talking about.

The embrace and instant love I felt from my host mom made me feel so welcomed in a new environment. I quickly jumped into learning about my surroundings— exploring her extensive garden filled with pineapples, limes, lemons, cashews, Chinese cabbage, coconuts, plantains and the list goes on, learning a new language, adapting to new norms, and being on a whole new level of integration into a culture I could have only dreamed of. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for my host mom opening her home to me, and the people of St. Lucia for being so welcoming and kind as I ask a million questions and learn as much as I can. 

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Once I moved into my host family’s beautiful home in Babboneau, I struggled for a few days— feeling the loss of all the things and people I had been comforted by in my typical days back in the states. I cried, I shed my walls, and saw a newer, more open and vulnerable side of myself that I was willing to share with other trainees, my host mom, and my family back home. I began to realize how important this time was— I had shed my ego and left my masks to hide who I truly am back home. It’s been so humbling to just be me, and that’s enough. 

I am not immune to the desire for consistency and normalcy, but I have felt a lightness in my heart that has allowed me to be fully present and loving.

Day by day, I learn how we are all more alike than different, and how loving one another is our most powerful tool.

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Our first week of training flew by so quickly, with amble information on culture, diversity, inclusion, medical procedures, consolidation routes, hurricane tips, and so forth. My head could spin looking back at all my notes, but I’ve learned more about my role in development and leaving judgements at the door. Hearing the point of views from fellow trainees and staff has been such an eye-opening experience, to be more receptive and transparent in my endeavor to inspire and connect with others. I have been able to make so many wonderful friendships that are already starting to blossom, so for now, I’m living each day to the fullest and on Monday, I’ll be hiking with all my friends to the Sulphur Springs in St Lucia, the Gros Piton which is the world’s only drive-in volcano. So stay tuned for a packing guide for Peace Corps EC and Hiking Guides. . .

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I made it on local news in St Lucia where Peace Corps Volunteer share their stories!

Please feel free to reach out, ask questions, and connect. Thanks for being a Doer and enjoy one of my favorite quotes!

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