*post does not actually feature any images of said dorm.
It took a very long time for me to decide to go to Budapest after Rome. Here’s what happened: when I booked my plane tickets from the US to Europe, I booked a date to get to Rome that aligned with my start day for work. Then, to go back home, I booked a date from Zagreb, Croatia that fell approximately two weeks after my last day at my internship. I knew I needed to end up in Zagreb at the end of those two weeks, and that I needed to vacate my room in Rome two days after the end of work, but I didn’t have any plans for where to go in between then.
By chance, a friend of mine messaged me while I was in Rome and told me that I should visit him in Budapest, where he had just completed a year of study for his master’s degree. This friend has actually featured on my blog before: his name is Bilal, and he was one of the madrasa students from Pakistan whom I met during Madrasa Discourses in Nepal and Qatar. Bilal and I had become closest friends during our time in Nepal and Qatar, and so I was ecstatic when he suggested I visit him in Europe. Plus, Budapest has always been somewhere I wanted to visit, and now I had an excuse.
Apart from the part where I tumbled down a moving escalator at the Fiumicino Airport and broke the handle of my suitcase, the travel from Rome to Budapest went relatively smoothly. It was a super cheap ticket on Whizz Air (yes, that’s actually its name), but it did the trick and got me where I needed to go.
I stayed with Bilal in his dorm room on an air mattress, though I ended up having to switch rooms with one of his friends (and then switch rooms back again) because a housekeeping lady saw me and they’re not supposed to have overnight guests in the dorms. It wasn’t the most glamorous sleeping arrangement I’ve had during my travels (though it beats the time I slept on a bench in the lobby of London Heathrow — more on that later), but again, it did the trick. No Grand Budapest Hotels for me.
On my first full day in the city, I visited the Parliament Building, the Danube River, the Budapest Eye, and St. Stephen’s Basilica, most of which I just looked at from the outside and had little other interaction with. Parliament was closed to the public, the Danube isn’t exactly a river you just go swimming in, and the Budapest Eye was overpriced to ride on. St. Stephen’s Basilica was the only one with both free and practical admission (as all churches should be, in my opinion).
At one point in the afternoon, after I’d finished visiting all of the major tourist sites within walking distance of each other in the city, I wound up having to wait for Bilal for a few hours to finish up an assignment at his university. I decided to sit in a bookshop for a while, where I read The Little Prince and The Old Man and the Sea for the first time. I don’t often just sit and read books if they’re not required for schoolwork (the most recent one I’d read before then was Shortest Way Home, Pete Buttigieg’s autobiography, which my friend Joe lent to me and that I had to finish within a week in order to give it back to him before he went back to England).
It was refreshing to just sit for a while and read something short and poignant, a description that applies to both The Old Man and the Sea and The Little Prince, but especially to The Little Prince. If you’ve never read it before, I highly recommend that you do. It’s probably my favorite thing I’ve read in years, and perhaps one the best children’s stories I’ve read ever.
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!