December marks my third month living in Spain. Earlier this month, my friend, Elena, and I took advantage of our “independent travel day” and travelled to Milan, Budapest, and Barcelona.
Wednesday // Milan
Our first destination was to Milan. We took a taxi, train, and subway to get to the airport. Once there, we checked in, went through security, then waited at our gate. Our flight ended up delayed and we didn’t arrive in Milan until that evening. When we landed, we decided to find a restaurant for dinner. I found this placed, Pizzeria Spontini, on Google and decided that a place with 2,000+ reviews must be good. I ordered a pizza “double cheese and sauce” because my eyes were bigger than my stomach. There was definitely too much cheese for my liking but the crust was different (in a good way) compared to other pizzas I’ve eaten. Overall, so far so good.
Our on way to our hostel, we stopped at Gelato d’Autore where I had my first ever gelato in Italy. I don’t remember the exact flavors I ordered but I now understand the love for gelato now.
We stayed at the Queen Hostel. It offered free breakfast, good reviews, and was definitely clean.
Travel tip: download offline maps on Google Maps to save data, especially if your data is slow.
Thursday // Milan, Budapest
That morning, we checked out of our hostel, walked to the city center, and visited Duomo di Milano – a beautiful cathedral with many high class shops in the area.
By early afternoon, we arrived at the airport, ordered one more Italian pizza at Caio, and waited for our next flight.
When we arrived in Budapest, we headed to the the Széchenyi bath house. When we got off our last train ride, we were stopped by security. Apparently we needed to validate our tickets at a machine before boarding. We didn’t know this because in Spain we never had to do that. Once you pay, you get on. We ended up being fined HUF 8000, which comes out to $28.24. We tried to ask for a manager to explain the situation but it was either the security or police. The security guard’s English was terrible and he kept saying, “Here are the rules. They’re in your language. You need to pay in cash now or pay later.” We paid the fine, along with several others that also got fined.
After that whole situation, we walked out of the train station and within a 2-minute walk, we arrived at the bath house. It was a
cool (hot) experience to check off my bucket list. There were so many rooms and the water felt so good.
After, we headed to a friend’s house to shower and then head to dinner. Elena and I ate at Frici Papa. There was a 15 minute wait (small restaurant), but the food was cheap. We ordered several different plates such as goulash and chicken paprikash.
After dinner, I started my journey to Barcelona..
Here’s a little story: when I bought my plane tickets for this trip a month prior, I bought them after midnight and ordered one of my tickets for a day earlier than Elena, and then ordered 2 of the same tickets… I called the airline later and they gave me a refund.
- Carry cash! Hungary has a different currency. The restaurant we ate at only took cash. It took euros, but gave my change back in Hungarian forint.
- Validate your ticket at a validating machine. Look for an orange colored machine on a metal pole. It will put a stamp on the ticket. If you’re there for a few days, buy a travel card.
Friday // Budapest, Barcelona
I arrived at the airport about midnight and my flight wasn’t departing until 6:25AM. I slept on and off in the airport and headed through security around 4AM. I was definitely sleep deprived while boarding my plane.
When I landed, I took the shuttle bus into the town center. It was around five euros. I met a lady on the bus and we chatted in spanglish.
Oh how I missed Spain.
Since I couldn’t check into my hostel until the afternoon, I decided to take myself on a brunch date. I was craving something healthy and went to Flax & Kale where I ordered a Mediterranean Avo Toast and Green Medicine drink.
I have an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) that came in handy while in Barcelona. I got into the Picasso museum for free thanks to the card. After seeing all of Picasso’s works, I made my way to the hostel, checked-in, and took a 3 hour nap. When I woke up, it was almost nighttime. I decided to grab dinner at a nearby restaurant, Bacoa.
I was still tired and headed back to the hostel after dinner. I stayed at St. Christopher’s Barcelona. I really liked this hostel because it had a curtain for privacy and a reading lamp.
- If you can avoid sleeping at the airport, do it. But it is one of those life experiences one should try once, but never twice.
- If you’re a student, get an ISIC card – you can receive various discounts when traveling.
Saturday // Barcelona, Valencia
I woke up to texts from Elena saying that her flight was overbooked by 30 people. So she didn’t fly into Spain until Sunday.
Good thing I booked my flight a day earlier than hers.
I checked out of my hostel and walked to the train station to get back to Valencia. My train ticket was around 40 euros. I was thankful to go back “home.” Going from city to city in just a few days wore me out and I ended up getting sick. It was a fun experience though. Milan was probably my favorite city to visit. Italy has beautiful people and wonderful food. *drools*
On to the next country,