By Isabelle Lydon, Eotvos Lorand University Budapest, Hungary
I’m writing this as Christmas break comes to an end. Coming home from being abroad has been hectic to say the least – trying to catch up with friends, family and just the Christmas period in general has been crazy! However, I thought I’d do a little recap of my Christmas experience in Budapest.
Budapest during the Christmas period is truly stunning, the city is decorated sooo nicely and there are so many cute Christmassy activities to take part in. To kick off the Christmas period, my friends and I hosted a ‘Christmas dinner’ at one of our flats. Luckily, I didn’t take part in the actual cooking part as it would’ve been terrible but thankfully my friends are decent cooks, so it turned out really well. I feel like this also helped me with homesickness as well as we all got together and had a home cooked roast dinner that reminded me of home.
During December, I made frequent trips to the Christmas markets on Fashion Street and outside the Basilica. These were the two main Christmas markets in Budapest but there were little ones that popped up all around the city. All the stalls were really cute and sold loads of handmade accessories, decorations, candles etc. The food was also amazing, and I had one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had at these markets. Although it was a little on the expensive side, which Christmas markets generally are so I didn’t expect anything less, it was definitely worth going to and it puts you in such a Christmassy mood. We also went ice skating in City Park which is the biggest outdoor ice-skating rink in Europe. As someone who cannot ice skate to save my life, I did find this thoroughly enjoyable, and the views are also so amazing. As the rink is so big, you can just go at your own pace so people who can actually ice skate just skate around you, so I didn’t feel embarrassed for being so terrible, so don’t let that put you of from going.
The most amazing part of the Christmas period on my year abroad was my trip to Vienna, Austria. My friends and I decided to book a weekend in Vienna last minute to go to the Christmas markets. This is one of my favourite things about living in Budapest is that you can book a coach to another country last minute for around £20! Vienna is truly a beautiful city and I definitely want to go back and visit in summer to see more of the city. In comparison to Budapest, it’s similar in the way that they have a great public transport system so it’s easy to get around everywhere. However, I will say it is on the more expensive side in terms of eating out and transport but, overall, it is worth it. I stayed in a hostel for the very first time which turned out to be okay. I think if you do your research and find somewhere that you’re comfortable with, it isn’t as daunting.
Our trip pretty much consisted of Christmas market visits and ice skating. The Christmas markets in Vienna were like nothing I’ve ever seen before and there was just this vibe that made it feel so Christmassy. The ice-skating rink in the markets was also magical although I did happen to fall a few times on this one.
I ended this semester with my ‘Buda Birthday’. With my birthday being on Christmas Eve, my friends wanted to celebrate with me before we all went home. We went to 26 Restaurant in Budapest and the food was delicious. I would recommend going here for a nice meal that isn’t incredibly expensive. I already cannot wait to get back to Hungary, back to ELTE and with my friends. Bring on semester 2!