Christmas Comes Early to Budapest

Christmas Budapest 1

The main tree lit up at the Christmas markets at St. Stephen’s Basilica

I awoke Saturday morning to a text from my roommate with an announcement that it was snowing outside! Being from Southern California and never having seen snow before, I immediately bolted from my bed and raced to the living room window. Sure enough, she was right. There were white things falling from the sky! It wasn’t cold enough for the snow to stick so it just melted the second it hit the ground. It was still a magical sight and I felt like a kid waking up Christmas morning to a bunch of presents. I can’t even imagine myself finally having a white Christmas.

Christmas Budapest 2

Ice-skating in the snow. Dreams were made. Pre-fall.

Since the API Krakow students were in town this weekend visiting our lovely city, API scheduled an ice-skating excursion for all of us. The outdoor ice-skating rink is located in City Park next to the Vajdahunyad Castle. I have ice-skated several times before; however, I can never seem to achieve enough balance to glide gracefully for five seconds. Music played in the background and skaters could groove to either top 40 music or Christmas music. I could not believe I was ice-skating next to a beautiful castle listening to Michael Buble and catching snowflakes. It was one of those moments where you had to keep pinching yourself and reminding yourself how fortunate you are.

Christmas Budapest 3

Spa + party = sparty

After freezing in the cold on the ice, we all went to the Szechenyi thermal baths to warm ourselves up. When you’re in Budapest, thermal baths are a must on your to-do list. Szechenyi has three outdoor pools and a bunch of indoor ones as well, if you are tired of your hair turning into icicles. It was like a huge pool party with all my friends, complete with underwater lights. Since it was a Saturday and Saturdays are when the spa parties happen, the baths were gearing up to be incredibly crowded with groups of young people chanting, getting ready for the night.

Christmas Budapest 4

What’s a better way to get yourself into the holiday spirit than checking out the Christmas markets on Fashion Street in Vorosmarty ter!

Opting for a more relaxed night, I decided to leave the baths early and head out to peruse the various Christmas markets throughout the city. What a better way to end the day than strolling through these festive booths sipping on mulled wine and stuffing your face with yummy cinnamon kurtoskalacs. There are 8 Christmas markets in downtown Budapest (Vorosmarty ter, Fashion Street, Deak Ferenc ter, Basilica, Four Seasons Hotel, Erzsebet square, Goszdu Udvar, and Varkert Bazaar) and I intended on checking out all of them. I planned on buying beautifully handcrafted souvenirs and artsy Christmas gifts for loved ones. The whole city is lit up with twinkly lights, trees are adorned with glittery ornaments, and huge Advent wreaths with giant purple candles are placed in the center of main squares. In a few days time, all the yellow trams will be decorated in lights and I am incredibly excited to ride it all throughout the city. One can never have too much of Christmas and no city does Christmas better than Budapest!

Quinn Kim is a student at California State University, Fullerton and an official API Blogger. Quinn is studying abroad with API in Budapest, Hungary.

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