Budapest, Hungary

George Ezra might sing it best, "My house in Budapest.  My hidden treasure chest...."

Budapest was built for a princess.  Filled with the likeness of royal treasures.  We arrived under the cover of the stars and the twinkling white glow lighting up the castles, ornate churches and an ethereal parliament building.  These gorgeous monuments are situated on the Danube River, with the hilly Castle District on the Buda side and flatter Pest, connected by multiple styles of bridges, on the other.

The daytime unveils a completely different city.  For one, the roofs of the Castle District are straight out of a designer's textile portfolio.  Shiny turquoise, burnt orange, dark blue and yellow tiles situated in patterns, cap the Medieval and Baroque royal complex.  We spent many afternoons and evenings exploring the royal plateau, built for Hungarian Kings and stumbled upon surprises that we unwrapped like gifts.

Walking past Matthias Church to the other end of the hill where Buda Castle sits in all its flower covered glory, we were stopped by a round of archery happening down the stoop.  Oversized straw bean bags with huge red targets were set up in a row and Skyler was Robin Hood-ready with a handful of arrows and a bow.  After a few rounds of flying arrows, and lots of laughs under the hot Budapest sun, Leah finally pulled Skyler away because if she didn't, he'd still be there!

Another hidden gem was an ensemble of singers belting away in the park that totally blew us away with their fun a cappella renditions of recognizable songs.  The musical surprises continued into the evening.  Wanting to soak in every nighttime view, Leah led us to the castle wall and as we sat on the stone edge; close to midnight, the beautiful sounds of classical violin floated up from the bottom step.  A talented man that could have been playing for a hall full of people, was sweeping romantic music from his strings, filling the night sky.

As we perched ourselves on the terrace, known as Fisherman's Bastion, along with many other tourists, we enjoyed a panoramic vantage point of this fairytale city.

Leaving the castle walls, we made our way up a hiking trail to Buda's Lady Liberty and the Citadel, gracing the peak of Gellèrt Hill.  Another stunning view of the river and Pest made the uphill hustle in the heat totally worth it.  Hungry for some Hungarian food, we made our way to one of the famous Ruin Bars we had heard about.  Deserted buildings, damaged by war or neglect have been turned into open roof, crumbling yet trendy, funky decorated bars and restaurants.  The service is not friendly, instead you are met with rather stoic faces and sharp attitudes, but the buildings are so rad and interestingly decorated, that didn’t matter.

Another popular pass time among tourists and locals alike is visiting the massive thermal baths.  There are quite a few to choose from, some surrounded by DJs and a party vibe, others enjoyed by older men playing chess while soaking.  We grabbed our swimming gear and jumped into the traditional Szèchenyi Bath and could not believe how many different pools, at different degrees there were and how packed it was!  The coolest part was a circular water pressured path that pushed people around at a higher speed.  Like a lazy river for race car drivers.

Throughout our visit we enjoyed so many days of walking around the city, along the river, exploring the enormous Central Market and eating crème filled Hungarian sweets.  However, the highlight goes to the headphone guided boat trip along the Danube at nighttime.  Budapest after dark is romantic, glowing and just plain gorgeous.  This city was built for royalty and is brimming with treasures.