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While I was in Czech Republic I was asked why I wasn’t planning to visit Budapest. I had no good answer and started thinking “Why not?”. So, when Eva and her father were able to find me a ride in a big truck, the decision was made…I was going to Hungary! The ride from Czech to Budapest was fantastic! Riding up in the cab of the truck, looking out at everything from a great vantage point and having someone to try to talk to made the trip go very fast. I was dropped off near the airport on the outskirts of Budapest and managed to make my way to the center of Buda and find my new host Kristof. Right away, I felt completely at ease with him and was excited to get his impressions of the city. We walked up to the top of Gellert Hill and had a fantastic view of the Danube and the city. At the top of this dolomite cliff is the Liberty Statue and the Citadella and some terrific picnic spots (perhaps a bit better in the summer…brrr). After such an impressive start to seeing the city, I wasn’t sure it could get much better but this city has so much to offer and experience that it certainly did. We wandered across the Danube to the market, had a Hungarian coffee (yum yum yum) and headed to St. Stephen’s Basilica and square, which is dedicated to the first king of Hungary…you guessed it, St. Stephen. Here you can find the mummified right hand of the king, if you are into that kind of thing. In order to wrap up our great first day, Kristof welcomed a few of his good friends over and we tested out some Hungarian drinks. From what I remember, they were very good! The next morning, I woke up with the sun pouring in the window beside me and blanketing me in warmth. It was a great way to begin the day! Once I managed to get myself going, I headed to the Funicular (which seem to be in every major city I have been to in Europe) and made my way up the hill to Buda Castle. This is another great location for city views as well as some amazing people watching! The castle is one of the most popular tourist spots in Budapest, so there was pleanty to see. When I came back to Kristof’s place, he made a delicious dinner of Chicken Paprikash. Almost everything in Hungary includes paprika in some way, which made my tummy very happy! The next thing that Kristof and I decided to do was to join some of his friends on a weekend hike in the woods outside of Budapest. We got up early and headed to the train. We met up with the group and were off. As soon as we arrived at the trail head, we sat down for some hot wine and strudel. I quickly realized that a day of hiking here is much different than a day of hiking in Vancouver, and that starting off with wine and snacks is awesome! Soon, we headed into the woods, and I felt like I had been transported home. We were on a hill surrounded by golden leaves; in the trees, blanketing the ground, and falling through the air all around us. It was beautiful! As we continued through the trees, out came the homemade Palinka (kind of like schnapps) and the hiking got a little more interesting! We got a little turned around at one point, but managed to make our way back to the trail and weave our way down through a popular narrow valley. It was crowded and slippery in spots, but it was so much fun manuvering that it seemed it was over in no time. We made it back to the city around dinner time and then relaxed for the evening. I was completely spoiled in Budapest, but the time had come to move on to my next destination: Croatia!