Remember to enjoy it!

The first obstacle showed itself only hours after my dad dropped me off at the airport – I remembered that I hate flying! My family usually travel using ferries or a car so it had been quite a while since I’d got on a plane. So I squeezed my armrest so hard that I’m surprised I didn’t leave marks and babbled nervously away to the bored businessman beside me, as the aircraft (which suddenly felt very flimsy) screamed and vibrated as it sped into the air. It didn’t get any better once we were up either, I tried to read but couldn’t concentrate so instead stared out of the window at the distance we’d drop to the ground if we crashed. Luckily there was a very kind air host who brought me a cup of tea to calm me down, and if you’re reading this – thank you so much!

When we touched down I’d never been more relieved to stand on solid ground and couldn’t get off of the plane quickly enough. I had a cigarette in the sunshine and calmed myself before preparing for the next step of my journey. I’d planned it well and knew exactly where the shuttle stopped and where to alight in order to get my train to Firenze. It was at the train station that I realised my first big mistake – I spoke no Italian! Everyone had told me that anyone I spoke to would speak English but they were wrong: no one could understand me as I begged them for directions to my platform and the screens were all in Italian. Panic stations? Nope, nip outside for a quick cigarette and some breathing exercises, a cheeky bit of mindfulness because I’d left enough time before my train. Eventually I found it, sat in my reserved seat and took a deep breath.

The next step was to catch a bus from the station to the plaza near my hostel. I’d looked this up on google maps and thought I knew where it stopped, but I couldn’t find it. So it’s here that I’ll pause to give my next piece of advice: if you’re tired and struggling, give yourself a break! It’s better to fork out the extra cash for a taxi than to stand panicking at a bus stop where you can’t communicate with anyone. So if you need to change your plans and just get to the hotel/hostel and have a rest, do it! There’s nothing wrong with accepting that you’ve taken on a bit too much and need an easier route. I took a taxi.

It dropped me off outside of my hostel, I was tired and hungry and couldn’t find any food. I was also slightly panicked at the thought of going back outside into the land where nobody spoke any English. I was meeting a friend that evening to attend the dance together and he agreed to meet me. We had to ask the hosts of our event to help us in ordering food, and they gladly obliged. So the next piece of advice – if you need help, ask for it! People in hostels or hotels will normally speak some English, if you find yourself stuck just ask for assistance rather than sitting around feeling tired, hungry and helpless!

You might not be able to move at the same pace as you anticipated before arriving. I certainly found myself a lot more tired than I’d predicted and had to cancel a few visits in order to catch up on some sleep. There’s nothing wrong with that. The important thing that I had to remember and think you should too, is that it’s more important to enjoy the trip than to see everything you could possible see in that area. I prioritised the organised aspects, attending dances in palaces and going on a walking tour of the city, above trips to museums and lesser sights in the local area. I missed out on seeing some thing which I’d have liked to see, but the most important thing was that I stayed healthy enough to enjoy the things that I did. So I guess my point is to prioritise your health and stay flexible when  you might have to change plans.

The last point in this short series is that you should probably stay in touch with your family and friends if you can. I made sure to call or text my parents every day so they knew I was okay, and I think this is important. They can’t see how well you’re coping or how much fun you’re having, but sending that one text that only takes thirty seconds can ease a lot of worry for them and let them know that you’re safe and enjoying your trip.

So my final advice to you is:

  • Give yourself a break – it’s ok to struggle while you’re there. Just focus on remembering your coping mechanisms and staying calm
  • If you need help – ask for it!
  • Prioritise your health – don’t push yourself too hard to see everything when what you really need is a break.
  • Stay flexible – sometimes plans may have to change, try to enjoy whatever the trip throws your way
  • Stay in touch with loved ones, they’ll be keen to know how it’s going.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this very short series about travelling with a mental illness. Remember that mental health problems don’t have to stop you living your dreams, if you work hard you can do anything that you want to do!

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A five minute flick through Budapest.

A five minute flick through Budapest.

As you may know, my posts have been a bit out of sync recently due to a little weekend trip to Budapest for my birthday. *Insert birthday singing here* To make up for this, and as a prelude to my March series on travelling with a mental illness, I’ve decided to include you in my holiday experience, by giving you a five minute run-down of some of my favourite places.

Seeing the sights.

This country is just beautiful! Everywhere you look there’s an incredible piece of architecture or landscape which you can’t take your eyes off. We walked to the top of
Gellert hill from which you can see the city laid out in front of you. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a trek and in the ice it probably wouldn’t have passed English health and safety laws, but then again what does these days? It’s well worth getting painfully out of breath for with breathtaking views over the city, when we went it was quite foggy and still well worth it, so I can’t imagine how incredible it must look on a clear day.

gellert
The view from Gellert.

 

fishermans-bastion
The Fisherman’s Bastion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s history you’re after there’s Buda Castle and the Parliament buildings. Both are structurally gorgeous and filled to the brim with history. There’s a museum in the castle now and all the panels are (helpfully) in English, although the guy in the cloakroom was a little scary. Talking of scary, the guards at parliament are possibly the most terrifying I’ve encountered.  The tour guides are friendly though, and give a lot of information in a short time. Even if you don’t fancy listening the building and rooms are so elaborate that there are plenty of selfies to be taken.

Finally (there’s loads more but I’ve limited myself to five minutes!) is the Fisherman’s Bastion. It was originally a fishing port, but now it’s mainly restaurants and viewing platforms. I loved its gorgeous white stone and little fairy tale turrets, I felt like a princess! The view’s pretty good from here too, and if you eat here you can see some lovely sights across the lake.

I’d also recommend St Stephen’s Basilica… but there aren’t any words. It’s insanely beautiful.

basilica
St Stephen’s Basilica.

Unusual entertainments.

The thermal baths are a big thing here, which is actually a problem because it leaves you with way too much choice! We choice Kiraly (after hours of discussions and research) as it was close to where we stayed and apparently one of the most authentic. We were pleased with our choice. It was fairly busy, but not even close to what some of the TripAdvisor reviews made it appear to be like. It was also significantly cheaper than most of the bigger baths. We don’t have any photos because we weren’t allowed but I’ll do my best to paint with words. The central baths are in a big circular room with a huge domed roof, which is pretty dark and full of steam coming off the many pools. The central pool was the busiest, but not quite warm enough for us, as we prefer our baths to almost scald us, there is however a much warmer pool which we never wanted to leave! There’s also a sauna, steam room, some sort of cold room and another bath outside the main room. There are water fountains too in little sinks jutting out from the corner of the room. All in all, they’re a lovely way to relax in the evening, especially if you visit while it’s cold!

buda-castle

We also went to the Flipper Museum. A museum underground that contained a huge number of pinball machines. It’s pretty cool and not too expensive and you could spend hours in there working your way through the various machines. There’s a little tuck shop style thing in there too which was pretty cool, and though you’re not allowed to eat or drink by the machines you can always pop up there for refreshments.

Eating & drinking.

We found loads of cool places to eat here. The first night we went to a ‘Sailor’s Bar’ which had been recommended to us by our host and although the service wasn’t the best we could have hoped for, the food was tasty and we were served in a reasonable time. The decor is also really cute and there’s a view of the river which is always good. We also ate another place which was ridiculously cheap, at only 5000HUF each! There are a lot of meat and potatoes going on, and they’re much better than ours. My favourite restaurant was a incredibly romantic. The waiter took my coat, pulled my chair out and even put my coat back on at the end of the night: I left feeling like the most important person in the world! The food was amazing, and came in really good portions, but that’s not the best bit. The best bit is the music. Live. A violinist and pianist who play throughout the evening, take suggestions and sometimes even serenade you. I’ve never been anywhere like it, and if I could, I’d go every day.

It’s time to give the Ruin bars a mention. If you want to go out drinking, these are the most unique places we found. They’re built in ruined houses or factories and instead of renovating them, they’ve simply found ways to bring out their old charms and re use them as bars. They are some of the strangest places that I’ve visited, but they’re also strangely nice.

bridge

I had the best time here, and surprisingly, since I’m always shivering at home, the cold didn’t bother me that much. My last word to you? Get a coat on and book a flight!