Our trip all began with one tweet. A tweet from a travel blogger that tells the world about incredibly cheap airline deals and lucky for me my husband follows this guy like a hawk. We have found multiple airline deals this way and have traveled to many parts of the world we probably would have never seen if it wasn’t for this travel site. And yes, I will share this phantom twitter account at the end of the article, I promise I have your back. But first things first lets talk about Central Europe.
We purchased our tickets to Budapest for $400 round-trip, about half the price of a normal ticket to Central Europe. And after alerting a few of our couple friends to the deal, one took the bait and jumped in with us. Then we set about planning a European tour for four around Christmas time.
December in Europe isn’t always balmy but we knew there would be copious amounts of mulled wine awaiting us, so we packed our sweaters and took our chances. During the pre-trip planning we secured a minivan to get get us around, booked hotels and plotted out our route but aside from a few tours we left our days mostly unplanned on purpose.
What follows is a quick hit list of the top things we found to do in Budapest, Vienna and Prague during what these four road warriors came to call #minivaneurocation.
Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. Most of you have heard of Budapest, probably from your history books or most recently from the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel but here is what we experienced.
- We stayed at Le Meridian, which was my favorite hotel we stayed in during our trip. It was convenient and luxurious all for a decent price too.
- Take the trabant tour from My Personal Budapest, its the best way to see the city in a short amount of time. The cars are small but if my 6’5 husband can fit in it, anyone can. We chose the culinary tour of the city; where we saw all of the sites, had a fabulous lunch and then went on to try Hungary’s strudels paired with wine.
- Check out the Seasonal Christmas Markets, behind the Le Meriden and in the Matthias Church Square if you happen to be there around Christmas time. The mulled wine and chimney cakes were our favorites from the street vedors.
- Take a long walk along the Danube at night.
- Take a dip in the ancient thermal bathhouse, we visited this one here.
- See the Hungarian Parliament, it’s huge and if you have time take the tour inside.
- Find the bronze statue of Ronald Reagan
- Have a beer at a Ruin Pub.
- Order goulash soup with a side of cabbage rolls, these are staple dishes in Budapest, so you must try.
- Buy some local paprika and goose liver (if you are into that kind of thing) at one of the big markets. They make great gifts to take home.
- Be careful of the Apricot Palinka it’s dangerous…
- On your way out of town, you must stop at the communist sculpture garden, it’s bananas and full of huge commie statues that are both weird and eerie.
Next up, we hit the road and traveled to Vienna to find Krampus ( a horned evil character that supposedly haunts children during Christmas and steals their toys..don’t judge we thought it was funny) and we found him in a giant christmas market. We got a picture and then we found the mulled wine, after that the rest is a little bit hazy. Hence the photo of the 7 empty punsch mugs but here is what we do remember:
- We stayed in the coolest boutique hotel called the Pentahotel
- We had the absolute best sausage of the whole trip at one of the local street vendors.
- Then we hit the “stable bars” where a very young crowd was getting really really wild on very cheap beer in interesting domed stables turned nightclubs, these places are must see.
Prague was the most beautiful of the cities we visited, the architecture has been written about to death so I’ll just say go see it for yourself, that alone is worth the flight.
- Take a tour around the city on a Segway. It is a great way to see the city in a short amount of time, plus they are super fun to drive.
- Visit the John Lennon Wall and take a picture. We unfortunately arrived a week after it had been painted over by a bunch of idiots but there was new art there to enjoy.
- Stop by the statue of the guys peeing, made for funny pictures.
- While shopping and walking in the city, make sure you scout out the Black Madonna building.
- We visited more Christmas Markets where we enjoyed more hot wine, street food and purchased kitchen witches and fur hats to bring home as gifts.
- We stayed at the Marriott, which was super nice and very convenient to walk to may of the sights.
- After being prompted by Anthony Bourdain my husband took us on a back alley beer finding quest for one of the most rare Czech Pilsners Pivovar Kout Na Sumave and then he got lost in a casino
By the end of the trip we had drank our fair share of mulled wine, beer and ate enough goulash to last a lifetime. We had an absolute blast on this trip and think anyone that has the opportunity to explore Central Europe, most certainly should. And if you start following AirFareWatchDog, then maybe you will be traveling there or another obscure part of the world before you know it. Happy travels!