On May 31st, I had a packed backpack, a passport, and a printed boarding pass, all ready to begin 3 flights and about 20 hours of traveling to arrive in my first Eastern Bloc country. I was heading to Budapest, Hungary. I arrived with my friend Dean, meeting my other friend Ben, to a city I knew nothing about. We'd chosen Budapest because it was close to Istanbul, a city we were visiting after, and because I'd heard that Budapest was an interesting city, despite not knowing the details.
Budapest turned out to really surprise me with its beauty and history. The city is located along a bend in the Danube, and is separated into the hilly Buda on the West side, and the flat Pest on the East. Because the river divides the city, there are tons of old bridges that cross the river. And each bridge has its own style and its own history.
During WWII, a large portion of the biggest European cities were bombed, and many old buildings were destroyed. However, Budapest was largely left intact. The bridges were destroyed, and some buildings near the river were also bombed, but away from the river, there is still a ton of very old historic buildings. This made for really great walking as there were lots of great sights.