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Chapter 6: Adios Budapest, Hello Krakow

Budapest --> brief stop in Vienna --> Krakow. A few more days in Central Europe before I head back to Spain.

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What’s up guys, it’s been a whirlwind of a week. Budapest to Vienna to Krakow to Auschwitz and back. Heading back to Spain on Sunday. Throw in a stomach bug for the last 48 hours, and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster. In hindsight, going out 7 nights in a row was a pretty poor choice. I’m going to write a detailed account of Auschwitz tomorrow, as that experience deserves an entire column of its own. Let’s get to it.

Some Thoughts

I’ve been in Europe for 17 days now, but it feels like 17 weeks. I was traveling with Rylan and Tanner for two weeks, but it feels like I’ve known them for years. Traveling is a different experience when it transcends from “vacation” to your daily life. My first trip to Europe was five years ago with my roommate and his mom. We had a blast, but we were operating on a checklist of activities and sites.

Eiffel Tower. Ireland-Belgium game. Wine tasting. Louvre. Notre Dame Cathedral. We had a blast, but we also had a structured itinerary.

My experience now is more free-flowing. What do I want to go see? What do I want to go do? Who do I want to do it with. Then I just do it. It’s been a more rewarding experience. When you have this static itinerary, it feels like an agenda that you are required to hit. If you miss something, it’s a let down. If you do something and you didn’t enjoy it all that much, it’s also a let down.

While I’ve made a point to visit historic sites, tour museums, and learn about the history and culture of the cities that I visited, I have also been going pretty hard the whole trip. It’s been a welcome change up to take a break for a few days.


Monday, September 6th

I forgot to add that Tanner was snoring so loud that we couldn’t sleep, so I took matters into my own hands.

It turns out if you hold a pillow over someone’s face for a good 10 seconds, they’ll snap out of the snoring real fast (don’t worry he was fine lol). Rough night getting slapped & smothered in your sleep, but we’ve all been there.

Considering we were up late dealing with the human thunderstorm, I slept in til lunch. I grabbed a gyro down the street and came back to the hostel to write for a bit. Tanner and Rylan said they had a friend, Lydia coming in town that day, so they went to meet her at the train station. They got back around two and introduced us, and then the three of them explored the city for a bit. I hung out at the hostel to finish writing my recap of the last few days.

Later that afternoon, I went looking for another free outdoor gym. Those have been a staple in my trip if you haven’t noticed. I found one about a mile and a half away down by the Danube River. I made my way there, and the views of the city at dusk were beautiful.

This gym was next to a skate park, and it had several pull up bars, monkey rings, and a rock climbing area (Tucker Cannon, you need to check it out). There was a little kid out there with his mom, and he was doing all sorts of gymnastics tricks. I decided to join in on the fun.

Post-workout, I headed back to the hostel. I passed the Budapest University of Engineering and Economics, the oldest engineering school in Europe. I wanted to go inside the school at some point and check it out, but sadly I never had the chance.

I got back to the hostel and hung out with Tanner, Rylan, Lydia.

So Tanner and Rylan have been at this travel thing for a while, and they’ve made a lot of friends along the way. They actually met Lydia previously in Amsterdam, and she came down to Barcelona for a few days to hang with them (though I didn’t meet her there). Apparently I was the 3rd or 4th traveler to follow them to another city lol. (I’m without a doubt the top travel companion: I was with them for two weeks straight. Sorry not sorry Lydia.)

Anyways, Lydia was from Idaho (which makes her one of maybe ten people currently alive from there) and was living in Vegas during COVID. She had family in Italy, so she moved there for the summer. She’s headed to London with Tanner and Rylan on Thursday, and then back to the states soon after.

Tanner passed out early, but Lydia, Rylan and I went out. We met one of Lydia’s roommates from Vegas, Collin, outside the hostel. He had been traveling in Europe as well, and he was staying in our hostel for the next few days too.

The three of us went to the Ruin Bar from a few days ago, and we had a blast. There was basically no one there on a Monday, but we downed some oversized beers and crushed the dance floor (crushed is probably an exaggeration).

We went from there to Instant (a bar we end up going to every single night, I believe) and it was slammed. Lydia kept trying to put Rylan and I on different girls, but we weren’t huge fans of her matchmaking skills lol. I ended up going back to the cribbo and passing out at 3ish.

Tuesday, September 7th

Marathon Tuesday. What a ridiculous day.

So we get up at 11ish, all four of us (Rylan, Tanner, Lydia, and I) throw on tank tops, and head to the same gym again.

We end up “rock climbing” for like 30 minutes after we work out, then go looking for food. We find some place called “El Mexicano”, and it freaking slapped. I got two chicken burritos, and they were incredible. If you ever go to Budapest, check it out. After we got back, they went to look at some monuments and museums, and I got a haircut. I was a bit worried, but the barber treated me right

We all went to a Terror Museum later that afternoon. This museum wasn’t full of jump scares though, it had exhibits on post-WWII Hungary. In the US, we don’t hear much about post-WWII Eastern Europe. The Soviets controlled most of it, and Berlin had a wall. But that’s all we’ve got.

Turns out, it was awful. Soviet agents were placed in all government offices to promote socialism in Hungary. Churches were persecuted. Thousands were sent to concentration camps. The economy fell apart in the name of “socialism”, and the country was crippled.

America isn’t perfect by any means, but exhibits like that show clear as day how dangerous unbridled socialism can be.

The exhibits, especially the sections that covered the executions, were riveting. If you go to Budapest, you need to see the Terror Museum.

That night, all five of us (Collin included) went to a Jewish restaurant down the road. The waiter clowned Tanner for being the only one to get wine while the other four of us had beer.

The hostel took a group to a karaoke bar, and we met up with them there. I thought it was going to suck because the bar was sparsely packed, but we had a blast. The funny thing about Europeans is that most of them speak good English, but they can’t hold the tune to American songs. We sang Mr. Brightside (classic) and Sweet Home Alabama, and they were so off-key it hurt.

I also drank what was probably a half-gallon Long Island Iced Tea. Dangerous stuff.

This bar had a loft, and my crew plus a few others hung out up there. There was a guitar upstairs (can’t remember if Collin brought his, or it was someone else’s), and Collin and Tanner both played a few American songs while we all sang. (Collin can straight up shred. Tanner can also, somewhat, shred). There’s something cathartic about being surrounded by good friends and good music. It felt like a bonfire back home.

We went back to Instant (again, I know), and I got home around 4.

Wednesday, September 8th (though since I hadn’t slept, you could call it Tuesday 2.0)

I was talking on the phone with one of my roommates til 4:45 AM, and everyone else got back. I said we could probably catch the sunrise on a bridge, and Tanner suggested the hill at the back of the city. We took scooters over there to check it out.

No Ride Zones” and “No Park Zones” for scooters are so stupid. Mine died in one of these areas, and I have no idea how much I got charged for it because I couldn’t cut it off, but didn’t want to walk it half a mile to park it.

We parked at the base of the hill and hiked 15-20 minutes to the top. The view was incredible; pictures really don’t do it justice. The river, the parliament building, miles and miles of houses. It was truly one of the best views I’ve ever seen.

At the crest of the hill we met a middle aged British couple: Tom and Julie. With their kids now out of the house, they had biked from Northern France to Budapest over the last seven weeks. Their journey was incredible, biking across 9 different countries. Tom also wrote a daily blog, and he took a picture with different strangers each day. We got to be in his Wednesday one.

On the way down, Rylan and I climbed on top of some massive statue lol. Then we went to a French brunch place. Now it’s 8 AM, we haven’t slept, and we’re all delirious. I was so sleep deprived that I started talking in a strong Louisiana accent just to screw around at brunch, and the rest of our crew was losing it. I don’t know if I was funny, they were exhausted, or both, but it was the most ridiculous breakfast I’ve ever had.

We got back to the hostel at 9:30, and I slept for a good 5 hours.

When I woke up, I felt like death. 7 nights of going out, eating foreign foods, and not getting a ton of sleep can wear on you, I guess. As I’m writing this section Friday morning, I’m still dealing with a stomach bug that started Wednesday night.

Instead of going out (thank God), we watched Inglorious Bastards at like 8:00. I ended up going to bed around 9:30.

My phone started blaring at 1:30 AM. I had slept through the beginning of my fantasy football draft with my friends back home, and I autodrafted Saquan Barkley in the first round. (I hope that works out). I stepped out of the room and hopped on a group facetime with the boys. Pretty sure the team I drafted is horrible, but we’ll see.

Thursday, September 9th

I woke up at 7:15, showered, and grabbed my stuff. I hugged all the homies bye, as Rylan, Tanner, and Lydia were going to London while Collin was staying in Budapest for another day. I caught a train to Vienna at 9. (I was supposed to leave the day before, but I felt so sick that I extended my stay for a night).

I got to Vienna and posted up in a Starbucks to write and read. I had an overnight train to Krakow, so there wasn’t much time for site seeing today. Hopefully I make it back here at some point. I booked a bed on the train to Krakow, which was 100% worth it given that I still feel pretty rough. My room had 3 bunks, but thankfully I was the only occupant.

If you ever take an overnight train, pay the 40 euros and get a bed. It’s 100% worth it. I’ll arrive in Krakow at 6 AM, so stay tuned.

Some Thoughts

If someone asks you to go out one night, do it. If you’re going on a week straight, maybe consider taking a night off.

Sunrises are always worth watching. It’s up to you whether you wake up early or stay up all night to see them.

European barber shops are awesome.

Know where the “no parking zones” are if you plan on scootering somewhere.

It’s impossible to watch night NFL games when you’re six hours ahead.

Everything in central/eastern Europe is dirt cheap.

There’s nothing better than meeting American bros in Europe. Some of the best bros happen to be girls.

Cities with rivers >>> cities without rivers.

Til next time.


See below for the previous and next chapter.