After a few relaxing days in the Tatra Mountains we headed for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Arriving late at night we were hit by a wall of heat when stepping off the air-conditioned train and made our way to the hostel, thankfully very close to the station. A patchy night of sleep followed as the hostel too proved to be extremely hot and stuffy.
The next morning we headed into the Old Town to join a free walking tour of the city. This proved to be extremely interesting, particularly the parts about the changes to the city under Communist rule and how many older Slovakians reminisce fondly of the Communist times when everything was provided for them. Later that day we set off on a train to Budapest, glad to have stopped in Bratislava where the contrast of the old city and the modernist city constructed by the Communists was definitely worth seeing, though there was no doubt in our minds that it is certainly a one or two day city.
We arrived in Budapest to more high temperatures and headed for our hostel for the next three nights, Wombats. On the way there we bumped into a girl I know from uni, it is a small world after all! That night I went for a drink with her and some of her friends in the famous ‘ruin bars’ of Budapest. These bars are literally situated in ruins and manage to achieve an effortless cool with minimal but weird decor.
The next day was a fairly lazy one due to temperatures once again hovering around 40 degrees. However, that evening, when the air was cooling, we once again went on a free walking tour. Again this was very enjoyable. One highlight was at the fountain in Liberty Square which has motion sensors that turn off the water when you approach, allowing you to walk over the areas that moments ago were spouting water. However, for one unfortunate English girl they did not turn off quickly enough and she was completely soaked! The tour ended around 9pm and we made our way back to the hostel through a city that clearly appeals to young people though which we were quickly growing to like.
The idea that Budapest hugely appeals to young people was even more apparent the next night. For the whole day the hostel was buzzing, excited for the ‘sparty’ that was on that night. Basically a party in the biggest thermal baths in Budapest the ‘sparty’ held every Saturday night had a great reputation and people were clearly excited for it. Keen to go I picked up a ticket and joined a couple of others I knew who were also going drinking with a load of very loud Australians in the hostel bar. After a couple of hours and way too many cheap Hungarian spirits we set off for the baths.
Getting off the metro we could almost immediately hear the music pumping from the baths and as we approached we saw the lights inside. Getting more and more pumped we went through the entrance and down to the locker rooms to leave our towels and valuables. We then headed outside to a sea of people in one of the thermal pools, surrounded by bars and a DJ on a stage above the pool. Needless to say a great night ensued! The only downside was having to walk back to the hostel in the pouring rain after finding out that the metro had closed, but not even the rain could dampen the experience!