September 2018 was the first month of my travelling where I spent a full 4 weeks in one place, and it had a HUGE effect.
I actually knew absolutely nothing about Budapest before I started planning this 5 months overseas, and it really only popped up as an option due to its semi-permanent position on Nomad List as one of the top cities on the list. It completely surprised me though, and once it came time to leave I had similar feelings to leaving a familiar, second home.
So, let’s get into the month! I’m going to try something new this month and break this review post into sections, with a bit of a ‘table of contents’:
- Travel >
- City impressions >
- Places I worked from >
- Work updates >
- Fitness >
- Stats >
At the beginning of the month I flew from Bergen to Budapest, via Stockholm and Helsinki. I flew Finnair, my first time flying them, and was generally happy. I’m not really a fan of the European budget airlines (Ryanair, Whizz Air, etc) so usually fly KLM or others. It’s just a personal preference, but I figure if I’m buying a ticket to hurtle through the air in a flying metal tube, the word ‘budget’ should be considered carefully.
This was an interesting flight though, as the plane was almost completely empty from Bergen to Stockholm, and we actually didn’t change planes once arriving in Stockholm, but just picked up more passengers, like a bus or a train, the first time I had experienced a ‘layover’ like this. I guess it’s relatively common in Europe with countries so close to each other.
Arriving in Budapest was super easy – Uber doesn’t exist there, however only one taxi company is allowed to operate from the airport, so the process is very streamlined. As soon as you exit the airport there’s a little yellow building labelled ‘taxi’, you go up to the booth window, give the attendant your destination address, and they print a small ticket that has a number on it. You go to the taxi waiting with the corresponding number, give the driver the ticket, and you’re off and away! The drivers all accept cash and card, and before I knew it I was at my home for the next 4 weeks.
I stayed in a studio Airbnb just halfway between the city centre and City Park, in District VI. In hindsight, I would have booked closer to the centre, and I actually bought a skateboard after 2 weeks as the 40min walk just got a bit much, but it was a good area to be in.
My first week there was a bit difficult, and I’m starting to see that as a common feature of moving to a new place; when you’re not vacationing, rather living, it takes a little while to find all the things that make a place comfortable; for me these are a good grocery store, a gym, a few good cafes/restaurants, and a place to work. My Airbnb was not directly within the city centre, and I didn’t really have my bearings, so I didn’t know where to go to find all of these comforts. Luckily it only takes a week to get these settled.
Once settled, though, I found Budapest to be a friendly, bustling, modern city with a whole lot happening. I absolutely loved it.
General city impressions of Budapest:
- The whole city is super walkable, and the Pest side is completely dead flat. Bike lanes are everywhere, there are multiple, wide footpaths, and people really take advantage of it; I can’t remember the last time I saw people rollerblading, let alone this many!
- The cafes are insanely good. There are heaps of them, they all serve delicious, cheap food and coffee, and they all have speedy WiFi. I loved this about Budapest. From a practical perspective, I didn’t really need a co-working space, the cafes were numerous and good enough to go without. But more on this below.
- The grocery stores seem to range hugely in quality. Most seem little more than big warehouses with shelves, with exposed wiring in the ceilings, even the more well-known brands like Tesco. I eventually found a chain I liked called Prima though.
- On that topic, most of Europe hasn’t seemed to have discovered self-checkouts yet. I didn’t see them anywhere in Norway, or anywhere I’ve been since Budapest.
- Summer in Budapest is hot. Like, land-locked, 30+ degrees every day, covered in sweat hot. If you stay as far out of the city as I did then you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and arriving home super sweaty every day is just not ideal.
- In saying that, winter arrives very suddenly; it went from 30+ degrees every day to below 20 every day within 24 hours.
- The roads and footpaths aren’t the cleanest, with people not really picking up after their dogs, and some streets smelling of piss.
- There is fast, free WiFi everywhere! Which I looooved. Almost every cafe and restaurant has WiFi available, with the password on the wall or the menu. It’s a very tech-friendly city.
- I completely changed my mindset to co-working spaces while in Budapest. I always viewed them as an optional luxury, something I could easily do without and save the money. However, after meeting Norbert, Nadia, and Jurn via NomadList, and working at their co-working space (Millenáris Startup Campus), I completely feel they’re worth every cent. Just the feeling of sitting down in a beautiful workspace, surrounded by other people working on projects, does wonders for productivity and happiness. I’ll be signing up for co-working spaces in every city I go to from here on out.
Places I visited/worked from in Budapest
Life1 Gym at Nyugati – The gym I signed up to! Life1 was on a blog post I found listing English-speaking gyms, they’re a chain with a few locations around Budapest. This was closest to my Airbnb, as well as right outside Budapest’s main train station and a tram station. Awesome gym, nice and modern and clean, and they had a smoothie cafe right inside where you could get protein shakes for about $1 AUD right after your workout. Loved it. The view of the awesome train station across the road isn’t half bad either.
London Coffee Society
London Coffee Society – I looooooved this place. They have amazing English breakfasts with fresh orange juice, fast WiFI, funky decor, and right in the centre of bustling Budapest. I ended up here for brekkie or lunch at least 3 times a week.
Cafe Brunch – Another great breakfast spot, however not as delicious a menu (in my opinion, however they did serve dairy-free porridge, so major points there), not as friendly staff, but more room to sit and still fast WiFi and plugs. A solid breakfast choice.
Ramenka – An awesome lunch choice right in Budapest’s happening Jewish quarter. Simple, cheap, filling ramen. Doesn’t taste anywhere near as good or authentic as the ramen from Japan, or even home in Sydney, but still filling and delicious.
Magvető Cafe – One of the best cafes for working I’ve ever seen. Half bookshop, half cafe, fast WiFi, dog-friendly, cool owners, and in the city centre, this place is awesome.
Naspolya Nassolda – A bit niche, but this is a raw food dessert cafe, and everything inside, all the cakes, drinks, sweets, and treats are all dairy free. For someone like me with a dairy allergy, this place is heaven.
KARAVÁN Budapest – Okay, this is the holy grail. Smack-bang in the Jewish quarter, right next to all the trendy work cafes, is this street-food courtyard/caravan…thing. A sectioned-off courtyard filled with two lines of caravans serving some of the most delicious, and wide-ranging, food I tried in Budapest. And, being Budapest, everything was around $10 AUD for huge meals. I visited here 12 times in the month I was in Budapest for dinner, it was perfectly placed and had such variety (burgers, Italian, Thai, Hungarian, vegan, desserts, etc) that I was never bored. Amazing place.
Konyha – Probably the best cafe I worked in while in Budapest, due to its available space, WiFi, huge brekkie and lunch meals, location, and friendliness of staff.
Millenáris Startup Campus
Millenáris Startup Campus – A beautiful co-working space on the Buda side of the river. The coolest industrial/shipping container interior decor, awesome offices and open work space, great location next to a bunch of cafes and restaurants, and super friendly staff. If only all co-working spaces were this funky.
PASTA. – Jurn took me on to this place and it was incredible. A tiny, hole-in-the-wall takeaway place in the city centre that only has 3 changing menu options at any given time, yet serves huge, delicious portions. Loved it.
Belvarosi Disznotoros – Norbert and Nadia took Jurn and I here for our first lunch together and holy crap if you like meat, this is the place for you. Meat. So much meat. MEEEEEAAAT. Hungarian food is apparently very meat-heavy, and this is a place the locals love, so it was great trying some delicious Hungarian food.
Pre-orders for the latest clothing release ended at the end of August, so I spent all of September working with the printers and manufacturers, the fulfilment team, and keeping customers updated. Not much to report here, just the usual organising products and shipping.
I used the peace and quiet of my Airbnb, as well as the perfectly placed overhead lighting, to record the next course for Pencil To Pixel; The Complete Intro To Monoline Lettering. It was received really well, even being featured by Skillshare in their Illustration category, but unfortunately still hasn’t attracted as many students as my first course.
After launching last month I saw some great growth with HOM through this month, mainly getting new coaches on board and refining what the website does and how it does it. Users are loving the Directory, however the Academy still needs some growth before it starts gaining proper traction.
This month I started working with one of my friends back in Australia on some animation and motion graphics for his company. More to come on this, but it was nice experimenting with some new styles and refining some new skills in After Effects
I was really happy with how September’s fitness went. After finding a very good gym close to my Airbnb, and setting a schedule of morning workouts and working at the co-working space for the rest of the day and into the evening, I really enjoyed having a regular routine in my life. The only downside was a strange leg strain that kept me from tricking the entire month. But aside from that, Budapest is excellent for keeping fit, with lots of choices of gyms, and many paths along the river to go running if that’s your thing.
And that was September! I went with a more visually-led post format for this month, let me know if you liked it, as well as anything else you’d like to see in these wrap-up posts. Next month will be interesting; my mum’s visiting from Australia and we’ll be travelling through Prague, Scotland, and Portugal together. For now though, thanks for reading!