On a lighter note…

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. The Glass Menagerie

Spontaneously, last week, the universe helped me decide to take a little vacation. Some time off from classes for a national holiday here, plus cheap plane tickets and willing friends led me to buy tickets to fly to Budapest and travel to Prague for 5 days. We had a basic, yet exhausting, itinerary planned – we originally intended to visit Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.

We started out with a 6am flight out of Ben Gurion. With their security policies, it’s recommended to get to the airport 3-4 hours early. So, a friend and I chilled out at a restaurant in Jerusalem until 1am (surprisingly difficult to find a restaurant/bar/cafe that stays open that late on a Monday night!), until we grabbed the shuttle to the airport. The airport… wow, is all I have to say. This is my first time leaving the country since I arrived back last July, so it’s the first time I’ve experienced it. It was exhausting – you’re questioned about your time in Israel as soon as you arrive at the airport, and are assigned a number based on the security threat they think  you are, a number 1 through 6, a 6 being the highest security threat. My friend (who holds both an American and an Israeli passport, as her family is Palestinian from the 1948 land.. a discussion I’ll write about later) and I both received 6s. This meant almost 3 hours of questions and searching our bags thoroughly, item by item; somewhat problematic as we hadn’t even checked in at the airline desk for our flight. But, being such a security threat at least meant an escort straight through to the departure gates!

We landed at 8am Budapest time, checked into our hostel (which ended up being free for us since it’s owned by the other friend we were meeting there!), slept for about 2 hours, and then hit the city to sight see! What a beautiful city. It was freezing, though, literally the temperature stayed right around the freezing mark, but wow I had forgotten how much I miss central heating. It was so nice to leave the cold outside and walk inside a restaurant, or really any building, and feel warm again. But just walking on the streets of Budapest, the architecture is so old and breathtakingly pretty.

We saw some hauntingly beautiful castles (man, as an American, there is just something so exciting about castles, at least for me!) and some of the most amazing churches I’ve ever seen.

St. Stephen's Basilicia in Budapest

A different church I can't remember the name of off the top of my head..

Then we left for Prague (which will have to be the next blog post, since this one is already too long!) for a couple days, then returned to Budapest for Friday night out on the town (yay dancing to a crazy mix of music including Backstreet Boys!) and then we had all day on Saturday to explore again before our flight left at 11pm. We toured the Parliament building, which was phenomenal.

Parliament from the outside

They don't make government buildings like this in the States

Nor do they make the legislative chambers like this!

The food was also delicious, and deliciously hearty. Soups (mmm goulash) galore, and meat galore. I haven’t eaten that much meat in the entire 7 months I’ve been here!

In short, Budapest was an incredible opportunity to see. Tomorrow, I’ll post about Prague! (And yes, it will definitely be tomorrow that I post, as I’m currently hunkered down trying to finish my thesis and I will need a procrastination tool…)

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