Brynn and I have traveled so much before, but never have we done a completely exclusive sister trip. I was living abroad in Spain going on weekend trips ever-so often. But I really wanted to go out with a bang and go on a long trip before I went back to the states. That’s where Brynn comes in. There would be no better way to end my amazing 10 month adventure than by having my sister come out and travel with me. Which is why I was so excited for this trip! But, I don’t have the best skills when it comes to planning longer trips so I let Brynn handle all of that. And let me tell you, she did a great job! Her and I made so many memories while we traveled through five countries in nine days. And while I may not exactly remember all of the history my sister was babbling to me the whole time, I sure do remember the funny experiences and moments that happened a long the way.
Since I was living in Spain, it was very convenient for us to start our trip from Madrid. Brynn flew in from the states that morning, and then she most likely helped me finish packing (gah have I ever mentioned how horrible I am at packing??) and that night we took our flight to Budapest. And with that we were on our way to start our amazing vacation together!
We landed in Budapest pretty late. The first thing we did was find an ATM and Brynn took out some money. We were figuring out the exchange rate on our phones and pressed some buttons and were like awesome I think we got about $100! And then went to go find a taxi. The taxi driver drove a million miles per hour (oh sorry, kilometers per hour) and we were a little worried that we weren’t going to be able to find our hostel. But as I’m sure you assumed, we did find our hostel. Once we got checked in, Brynn spills out her Hungarian Forint and decides to look at her bank account to see how much 100,000 Hungarian Forint is in USD. SURPRISE! It wasn’t close to the $100 we expected it to be… try $360. Needless to say from that point forward we checked our math a little better while we were at the ATMs, draining our bank accounts.
Brynn and I went to a really interesting “Hospital in the Rock” that was used as an underground Red Cross hospital during WWII, and a nuclear bunker during the Cold War. It was completely secret until the 1990s!! They had the inside set up as it would have been way back when, with wax figures all over the place. But of course, it was a photographers worst nightmare because no photos were allowed inside the hospital. If you ever find yourself in Budapest, I highly recommend stopping to see this hospital!
Our mom was insanely jealous that we were in Budapest and didn’t invite her (sorry mom!) And she kept telling us that every time she heard the song Budapest she would think of us. Well, after going into the Parliament, that song holds truth! “My house in Budapest, my hidden treasure chest. Golden grand pianos, my beautiful castillo.” The Parliament building was beautiful, inside and out!
STORY TIME. (Like this whole thing isn’t one big story….) We went to the House of Terror. When we walked in, it was a beautiful day. Sun was shining, we were wearing t-shirts, heck we even probably had sunglasses on. We spent a good amount of time in this museum. (Wouldn’t you when it was home to the Arrow Cross and the AVO and AVH Secret Police?!) But when we walked out of the exhibit and looked out the window, it was literally down pouring. Which sucked because the next place on our list were the Széchenyi Baths… we thought we would wait it out a while. There was a very small café in the building so we bought some food and hung out there for a bit. We continued to look out the window and saw the storm progress. All of a sudden it was hailing golf balls and there were trees blowing around. It literally looked like a monsoon out there! But that only lasted about five minutes. It still continued to downpour, but trees weren’t falling down anymore. Brynn and I gained the confidence to fight this monster, and headed toward the door. We walked out, and then immediately came back inside. We didn’t have an umbrella because rain wasn’t in the forecast!! We stood by the door with 10 other people deciding what to do. I decided I was going on a mission to find an umbrella. It’s just rain, I could handle it. And plus, I was wearing my Chacos. Those things definitely can handle the rain. Brynn handed me some Forint and I started sprinting down the street. I was trying to pay attention to where I was going so I wouldn’t get lost, but also trying to go fast so I wasn’t 100% soaking wet when I returned. I ran into a store and ask if they sold umbrellas. (Keep in mind I don’t know a lick of Hungarian. But mostly everyone understands English there anyways). They said “Next store ova!” And I ran into that one. Thank God for Chinese shops! They always have what you need. I bought an umbrella and ran out and back to the House of Terror. I was so happy I bought one and Brynn was as well, until she realized I only bought one. I clearly wasn’t thinking… so back to the store I ran. I think that little Chinese shop was the only place close by that sold umbrellas, and I guarantee they sold a lot that day. Also, we didn’t end up going to the Széchenyi Baths that day. Clearly. But we made it there the next day.
Another must see on the Budapest list are the previously mentioned Széchenyi Baths. There are a million thermal baths in Budapest, but the Széchenyi Baths are by far the best and the most famous. This could take up your entire day. It’s basically like being at Water World, but minus the rides. You pay a hefty price to enter so you might as well spend as long as you can there! And the café has amazing food, and it seemed pretty decently priced. But then again we were super hungry and had 100,000 Hungarian Forint to spend, so we might have bypassed the prices. 🙂
We thought we planned out our last day in Budapest pretty well, until we asked the nice towel-return lady to look at the train station on our tickets, and point out on the map where it was. We knew it was nearby, we just wanted to confirm with a local before we went over there. JUST KIDDING IT WASN’T NEARBY! We were actually on the very opposite side of Budapest. The train station wasn’t even on our map… that’s how far away we were. We started freaking out a little bit and got directions from the nice staff at the baths on the fastest way to get to the train station. We hopped on the metro, switching lines like crazy maniacs. Got into the train station, SPRINTED to our platform… and we were three minutes early. We still don’t understand how we made it. But we did. And that’s what matters.
When we arrived at our hostel in Vienna, he gave us two keys and explained them. One key opens the door that goes into the building. (Like when you don’t have a key, you have to buzz and then the person will open the big door and you walk up to their apartment door. That type of door haha) He said that in all of Vienna, every key is the same for those doors. So we could literally open any door to any building in this city. We kind of thought he was joking and were like hah okay…. And then the other key was to our hostel room. He gave us directions on how to get to where our room was, and we were on our way. (It was a weird hostel, they had rooms in different “apartment” type buildings, it wasn’t just one big hostel.) We put the key in the door, it opens, and we start looking for the sign that says hostel that he said was there pointing to our room… It wasn’t there. We kept looking around and couldn’t find it, and then read his directions again. We were definitely in the wrong building and yes, the key did let us inside. HOW CREEPY VIENNA. UPDATE YOUR KEYS!
Brynn and I love ice cream. We saw this ice cream shop and decided to try it out. It was AMAZING. We went there every day. And it never disappointed us. Recommendation in Vienna: This ice cream shop.
We found out that at the Opera House in Vienna, you can wait in line and get tickets to the show for 5 euros! We were super excited about this, so of course we took up that offer. We waited in line and got our tickets in the standing room only section. We had no idea what the show was, but we knew we had a spot and we were excited about it! I was excited to see some Opera. We waited for the show to start, and soon realized it wasn’t an opera. It was a ballet! Which was completely fine with us. We were ballet dancers one time in our lives. Like when we were 6 and 8 haha. The show was… interesting to say the least. It started as a normal ballet. Then they started dancing with cacti. And then they started dancing topless. We were still hopeful for some opera singing and kept saying “It’s not over until the fat lady sings!!!” Well the fat lady never sang, but it did end.
While in Vienna, do as the Austrians do. We went to a beer garden one night, and after walking into a private party at the wrong place, we finally found the garden we were looking for! It was sooo cute! We sat at a table outside, and then the waitress immediately moved us because we were in the wrong area. We struggled to order some wine, but we did somehow. She realized at that moment we definitely needed to switch our German menu for an English one. Brynn was completely set on Schnitzel, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for the life of me. She brought food to the table next to us, and this lady had a chicken salad thing that looked delicious. I just told the waitress I want whatever that is, and somehow she understood me. And good thing, because it was delicious! Oh language barriers.
Vienna is very beautiful! But the most expensive spot on our journey. We took a bus to Bratislava, which made for a fun day trip! Bratislava is the cute little capital of Slovakia. It was calm, a bit run down, and not super full of tourist. In fact, we accidentally walked into a church that had a sign that said No Tourists. Oops! There wasn’t much to see, but it was still a nice change of scenery!
We couldn’t leave Vienna – Wien – without some weiners! So that’s exactly what we did on our last day. A long with some ice cream, of course.
After Vienna came our short little time in Prague. Have I mentioned how bomb Brynn and I are at day trips? It’s in our blood. It’s what we do. It was raining so hard when we arrived in Prague, but it’s okay because we had our umbrellas from Budapest. The first thing we did was run up to the Prague Castle and knock out everything we possibly could before it closed. We navigated through that castle like champs, and saw everything we paid for within our time limit.
So as we were leaving the Prague Castle, it started down pouring again. EVERYONE was hiding under trees, under over hangs, anywhere that would shield them from this rain. Well… Brynn and I rreeeaaaalllllyyyyy wanted a photo with the guards. So we took this opportunity of everybody hiding to extend our selfie stick and take a quick photo with the guards of the castle. Everyone was laughing at us and thought what we were doing was hilarious. Well, it was, because we are hilarious. 😉
The rain still didn’t stop us from taking selfies. We ran around with our umbrellas taking photos in the rain with everybody looking at us like we were crazy. Come on people, the rain isn’t going to kill you! Below is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip. All thanks to the rain making all the people go away and for us to get a good chance for a selfie. 🙂
Our train into Krakow wasn’t until late the next night, so we had the whole next day in Prague. But let’s be real, we spent almost the entire time on Charles Bridge. We have a good reason though!!! We had to wait in line to get a caricature done…. because come on. You KNOW that’s important.
I promise that wasn’t the only thing we did that day. But it was a major part and our parents really appreciated our silly gift!
That night we got on our night train to Krakow. Which I was SUPER excited about because I’ve never been in a sleeper train before. I mean, it wasn’t super luxurious, but it was still a really fun experience for me! (Except it might have given us a rash. But that’s not super important haha) The guy even knocked on our door to wake us up and gave us coffee and a croissant! (Brynn and I hate coffee. And she hates croissants. But it was a nice gesture!!) So we arrived in Poland, and guess what? It was down pouring. No surprise there.
So we actually took the train to Oświęcim, the town where Auschwitz is. We arrived supppeerrrrr early, so we had a couple of hours before Auschwitz was open. We had a genius idea to go to McDonalds and use their wifi. We walked all the way there to find out that McDonalds was closed. So we decided to just use them for their giant umbrellas outside. That is until the employee came out and literally started closing the umbrellas on us. Thanks McDonalds… Thanks. We continued our trek not really knowing where we were going. I was FREEZING cold because I didn’t have a sweatshirt at all. I kept bugging Brynn about finding somewhere to buy a sweatshirt. It was 6AM… nothing was going to be open. And a car drove past us a little too close and soaked me. So that was cool too. BUT THEN we stumbled upon a gas station. We saw it as a place of warmth, and maybe there was an ATM. Well it was even better. There was also WIFI! We stayed there for like two hours no joke. Once Auschwitz was almost open, we followed our google maps directions to walk there. It was still raining. We got to Auschwitz and that was an emotional experience. The rain or any little thing that was bothering us didn’t matter anymore. I don’t really have words to describe it, but I do have a few photos to share with you.
After a very humbling experience at Auschwitz, we took a bus to Krakow and were ready to enjoy our very last day of our sister trip. We saw as much as we could see during our little time in Poland, but we enjoyed every second of it! Except for maybe the time when we were trying to eat these dumplings we ordered. They were quite possibly the most awful things we have ever decided to eat, and I was all “WE’RE EATING ALL OF THEM BECAUSE WE PAID FOR IT!” But, it was impossible. I can’t describe what they tasted like without gagging. And they ended up being really cheap. I clearly can’t convert money in my head for the life of me haha.
Once we were done exploring Poland for the night, we settled down into our hostel, thinking about our amazing sister trip. Everything, even with all the little bumps along the way, was perfect. We really didn’t want it to end! I didn’t want my sister to leave my side, and I also wasn’t looking forward to ending my 10 month stay in Spain. Everything was bittersweet, and I don’t think I’ve ever slept better in a hostel than that night in Poland.
❤ Lil b