Saturday morning Kristina and I loaded up our bags, met the rest of our group, exchanged some money, and found our way to the blue, double-decker bus; this was our home for the next 8 days. Both of our seats were located on the bottom level. After all the passengers had boarded, our bus pulled out of the station and we were off! What do you do for nearly 24 hours on a bus? I talked to Kristina and other girls on the bus, listened to music, practiced Spanish, slept, read scriptures, sat, tried to sleep more, and ate. The bus would stop about every few hours for bathroom breaks and food stops. At about 8:00 p.m. we stopped at a place to eat dinner. We were told it was only about 15 minutes to the border. There was going to be a gas station where we could exchange money, then soon after that we would need to get our passports out. Because I thought it was so close, I left my boots on. After about an hour of waiting and not getting to the border I gave up and took of my shoes, got out my blanket, and went to sleep. The bus driver turned on the lights when it was time to get out our passports. A Ukrainian lady entered our bus took all of our passports, they checked the luggage, stamped our passports, gave them back to us, then let us go through.
After making it past the Ukrainian border, we had to go through the Hungarian security. We were told to get off the bus and line up outside. There was a long line of people from our bus waiting to get their passports stamped. I was so tired and cold; it seemed like we were standing out there for so long! When I finally got to the front of the line, the man took my passport and tried scanning it. The light kept turning red instead of green. He tried several times then finally sent me to the man at the other window. I was beginning to get nervous but luckily he finally stamped it and let me through. We sat on the bus for a long time after that while they checked several bags of luggage. It took about 2-3 hours total to get through both border patrols.
My favorite sauna was one that was filled with a pine scent. I wanted to stay in there for a lot longer than we did, but it was a very popular room and we figured we should leave so others could sit down. When we entered one steam room we couldn't see anything. After sitting down, we realized that we were in a room with a bunch of old men. Due to the fact that I couldn't breathe and that I didn't exactly feel very comfortable in there, we left pretty quickly. Once we went back outside, the sun was shining. The rest of the time we relaxed in the pools outside and took pictures. I was so grateful we did the spa first; it was a perfect way to recover from a very long bus ride.
Once we left the church, it was lightly raining outside. We walked around for a few minutes trying to find a place to eat. We decided to eat at a place called Jack Burgers. A cheeseburger and French fries sounded so delicious! After ordering, there were only two open seats, but they were at the same table as another group of people. Kristina and I sat there, but it was really awkward. The whole time we dreaded biting into the burger that was bigger than our mouths in front of all the people at our table. Once I did though I couldn’t believe how tasty it was! After eating we made our way to the chain bridge. On the way we passed through city streets. It was like a dream come true walking on small lit up European streets, enclosed by tall skinny buildings full of shops and restaurants. The view from the bridge was gorgeous! There are about eight bridges that cross the river and we could see three of them from where we were. The two girls we were with wanted to walk around for about another two hours and because our feet hurt and we were tired, Kristina and I decided to leave them and head back.
We got to the metro just fine, but it was then that we realized that we didn't remember where we started. We spent nearly 3 hours getting on and off wondering where to go. We didn't have the address to our hotel, my phone was dead, we were exhausted, and had no idea what to do. I have never felt so lost, scared, and helpless. We asked a woman to help us and her son let us borrow his iPhone to message Alysha and Solana on Facebook. Unfortunately neither of the answered. The lady mostly spoke Hungarian, but eventually found someone who spoke English on the phone. We finally decided to ride to the second to last stop the other direction to see if that was right. When we exited the metro it did not look familiar, so we went to the other side and saw the bus stop we had started at! I have never felt so much relief! You'd think after getting lost so many times in Kiev we wouldn't trust ourselves to find the way back on our own. I don't think either of us will ever go anywhere without being more prepared though. After a long day it felt amazing to lay down in my cozy little bed and fall asleep. Budapest is gorgeous! I loved the feel of the streets, architecture, and overall beauty. I definitely want to come back here someday.