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Hungry in Hungary

Time November 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week has been what the Brits call “Reading Week”.  Basically it’s a week-long period where you are supposed to catch up on work.  I’ve been doing that, but I also took advantage of 5 of the 10 days I had off to travel to Amsterdam and Berlin.  Not having internet access for the past few days has led me to post this quite late.  October 24-26 I went to Budapest with a couple friends.  Hands down it has been my favorite trip so far, which was unexpected for me.  Budapest was a very random trip for us.  Whenever we searched places to go in Europe, Budapest always showed up as the most underrated city.

And I have to say it was beyond amazing!  I have never been in such a grand city.  According to Brigid, who is a history major, most Easter European cities were very concerned with the architecture and grandeur of there city.  They didn’t want to be labeled as “backward” compared to the Western European cities.  I would hands down recommend traveling to Budapest to anyone studying abroad or anyone interested in getting a taste of eastern Europe.

We stayed in a hostel called Pal’s hostel.  This wasn’t a regular hostel, it was more like a chain of apartments right next to St. Stephen’s Basilica. So we ended up staying in a 4 person apartment footsteps away from the basilica.

Besides our great location, another amazing thing was the currency in Hungary.  They are on the forint, which has an exchange rate of 1forint = .0046 dollar.  This was great as it was a nice break from the extremely expensive London, however taking out 25,000 forint at the airport was a bit odd.

I’ll leave you with this video to explain the rest:

My favorite things in Budapest:

1. chimney cakes–almost like funnel cakes, but better

2. St. Stephen’s Basilica–the grandest Catholic church I’ve ever been inside.  Makes Notre Dame look bad.

3.  The hop on hop off bus is a great way to get to all the cities main attractions.

4.  Ruin pubs–claustraphobic, but unique atmosphere of a chain of pubs surrounded by a courtyard in the middle

5. The drinking culture– people sit outside on the steps of the basilica and on the Budda Castle walls to enjoy the view while enjoying a drink

6.  The gelato– Very good and comes in the shape of a flower

xx, Francesca

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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

Time November 2nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Embarrassing…only half this post went up and I’m not sure why. So here it is again, but different because of course…I didn’t save the original!

Last weekend I took my first international weekend trip since I’ve been to Ireland! I traveled quite a bit before arriving in Galway but it was my first trip to Hungary (the country where my dad’s side of the family immigrated from), and the first time where coming back to Ireland felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, a few nights before I left my wallet was stolen at a bar in Galway. In all honesty it was probably more my carelessness that enabled someone to take it than anything else since I’m the only one from my program to experience any kind of problems here.

Luckily my immigration card wasn’t in my wallet but I did lose some money, my NUIG student ID, and most unfortunately, my debit card. On a positive note, I have some amazing friends who helped me out and loaned me money while I cancelled my card and ran out of the cash I had at home. Since I opted not to open an Irish bank account and my bank is a smaller state bank, I had to wait for them to send my card to my home address in the US and have my mom forward me my card here, where it got stuck in customs for a few days because it needed some kind of special form to be filled out. Then there’s no post on Saturdays and Sundays and this past Monday was a bank holiday so again the post service wasn’t open. I finally received my card though, and all is well. But a little word of advice: maybe don’t bring your card with you when you go out and also have some kind of contingency plan with your bank so that there’s a faster way for you to regain access to your money!

Luckily, this little hiccup did not stop me from having an amazing time in Budapest! It was really one of the best trips of my life and I am already trying to find a way to return.

Alleyway in Budapest. St. Stephen’s Basilica is in the background covered by the smog/haze that seemed to coat the city.

View of the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament building from the bridge leading to Margaret Island.

Hungarian lace and linen at the little market we ran into on the streets of Budapest.

Me standing on the Chain Bridge that leads over the Danube to the Budapest Castle, it was absolutely beautiful!

Stall at the market where the delicious Transylvanian Chimney Cakes were being roasted over a coal burning fire. These were so good and unique tasting that we went back the next day for more!

And of course we had fun at our hostel when they organized an open mic night and some of the guys sang part of a song…over and over again! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmcj1Ilqysc&feature=share[/youtube]

Since I didn’t have much money, I had a nice excuse to have a weekend exploring Galway, something I should have done long ago. I went to the fresh market Galway has on Saturdays downtown, and on Sunday walked to Salthill, a suburb right on the beach outside of Galway.

We got some delicious hot and fresh donuts from one of the stalls at the fresh market! Seriously it was so fresh and hot that it got squished from being in the bag for only a minute or so.

Fresh carrots and onions from one of the vegetable stands at the market.

One of downtown Galway’s main roads on an early Sunday afternoon.

Galway Bay, on the walk to Salthill

View of Salthill from the diving platform…where we saw several people swimming in the freezing cold water, some of them not even wearing wet suits!

The little explorations of Galway came at just the right time, though. After having so much fun in Budapest I was feeling the excitement of Ireland starting to wind down after being here for 2 months (especially since school was starting to get a little more serious with midterms and essays and presentations due and that was what I had to look forward to on my return from Hungary), I was just feeling a little tired of Galway. But exploring the city and the surrounding areas got me excited about Ireland again. Sometimes you just need to change up your routine a little to shake off any bad feelings.

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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

Time October 30th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” by

Last weekend I took my first international weekend trip since I’ve been to Ireland! I traveled quite a bit before arriving in Galway but it was my first trip to Hungary (the country where my dad’s side of the family immigrated from), and the first time where coming back to Ireland felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, a few nights before I left my wallet was stolen at a bar in Galway. In all honesty it was probably more my carelessness that enabled someone to take it than anything else since I’m the only one from my program to experience any kind of problems here.

Luckily my immigration card wasn’t in my wallet but I did lose some money, my NUIG student ID, and most unfortunately, my debit card. On a positive note, I have some amazing friends who helped me out and loaned me money while I cancelled my card and ran out of the cash I had at home. Since I opted not to open an Irish bank account and my bank is a smaller state bank, I had to wait for them to send my card to my home address in the US and have my mom forward me my card here, where it got stuck in customs for a few days because it needed some kind of special form to be filled out. Then there’

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