Note: This was a live blog post that was continuously being updated as the trip occurred.

26 March 2023 — Hungary officially became the 30th country that I have ever visited today after landing at Budapest Airport.

The bad news is that I am only here for a day or a night.

So I asked ChatGPT to provide me with a full-day itinerary which I will test tomorrow before I continue my trip to Munich, Germany.

ChatGPT is also a friend for travellers but it remains to be seen if it gives realistic recommendations.

Live blog begins.

Jó reggelt kívánok! (“Good morning” in Hungarian, however is that pronounced 😁)

8:00am – I woke up to a rainy morning in Budapest. Checked my favourite Windy app to see the hourly weather today and oh no, it looks like it is going to rain all day!

No hope for sunshine in Budapest today.

I brought the weather from Roubaix, France, with me! 🙈😂

This hostel has a fancy lobby hall. It was clean and I slept well for 12 Euros.

After I groomed for the day, I picked up my backpack, had a final glimpse of the hostel’s chic lobby hall and checked out right away. I paid 12 EUR for a shared room with 4 beds and I shared it with another European guy with whom I had very little interaction with except for a friendly smile.

It’s time to start my itinerary according to ChatGPT!

First stop: Breakfast at a café

ChatGPT recommended me to go to Espresso Embassy or to another café for a cup of coffee and breakfast. When I brought up Google Maps to locate where the first café is, I was shocked to see that it is located over 2 kilometres away. Wtf? So it’s a “No.” This felt like a negative first impression of what ChatGPT has churned for me.

So, I opted instead to go to another one which is located about 600 metres away from my hostel.

9:15am – I arrived at the cafe called Massolit Books and Café and I was greeted with a “Closed” sign at the door. Oh no… then I noticed that there’s another sign saying that they open from 9:30am daily. Why would ChatGPT recommend me to come here then at 9am? 🤔🙄

Sorry, but we’re closed for now.
This café also looks fancy. It’s located in a quiet neighbourhood.

Luckily it was not raining so heavily so I waited for a couple minutes outside until a young Hungarian guy who spoke very fluent English came out from the café at 9:20am and asked me if I wanted to go in and wait inside instead. “Of course!” I said.

And here’s the view that greeted me inside:

Nice, relaxing view from the inside and I was the first customer of the day. 🥇
Breakfast-y arrives ! I ordered myself an Americano and a cake with poppy seeds.
I haven’t heard of that cake but it sounds druggy and adventurous so I ordered it.
Decent breakfast overall for 1500 Huf or 4 Euros. I just wished I were into books for today.
Loved the atmosphere in this café and it’s coffee. I was alone so I spoiled myself with it!

After a quick breakfast, it was time to walk to the Liberty Bridge located about 1.5 kilometres away.

I find covered sidewalks like this rare in Europe.
Budapest is full of large buildings like this. It reminds me of Vienna then a quick Google search revealed that Austria and Hungary were once a dual empire. It makes sense now. 😁
The first Jewish Synagogue I’ve seen in my life occurred here in Budapest, Hungary. Stunning architecture.
Looks pretty and sophisticated from a distance.
Wet on the street but at least I could see these trees blooming.

Second stop: Liberty Bridge > Great Market Hall

10:05am – ChatGPT recommended me to head over to the bridge but just a few hundred metres from it stumbled upon this intriguing building which irresistibly called me for an immediate exploration.

What is this building and why does it stand out?
And it appeared to be the Great Market Hall. Let’s go in there!

And it turned out, this place ChatGPT was supposed to be my fourth stop for today. But because it was already on my way, it did not make sense to ignore it, so voilà, inside I went!

This vantage point would have been so incredible if it wasn’t for the inclement weather!

Oh wow.
I was fascinated with the interior of this building. Didn’t expect it to be a vibrant market with plenty of local souvenir shops.

So it appeared to be an indoor market! So, I looked around the indoor market and observed the things they’ve sold there. I figured that paprika must be of national importance to Hungary (or to Budapest) as many souvenirs were themed after it. Of course, I bought some because they were really affordable.

The Great Market Hall in Budapest, Hungary.

Third stop: Gellert Hill > Liberty Bridge

11:30am – After some shopping at the Great Market Hall, I have reached the Liberty Bridge! I loved that trams were passing on it but such a shame that the weather was not cooperating. It still felt nice to be here!

Finally reached the Liberty Bridge despite the heavy rain.
This bridge was all to myself because of the rain. Good!

This vantage point would have been so incredible if it wasn’t for the inclement weather!

Stunning view from the Liberty Bridge of Budapest. Added some nice music for some nice feeling. 😊

I didn’t stay so long on the bridge because of the rain and some winds. While traversing it, I saw a hill in front of me. It must be the Gellert Hill, my next stop.

Here are some pics I took on the way.

Some nice building on the foot of the Gellert Hill.
We shall Google later what this hillside architecture is but it looks old and religion-related.

Fourth stop: Great Market Hall > Gellert Hill

11:45am – And now it’s time to climb to the Gellert Hill!

At first glance, I did not think the hill was too high to climb… but it was raining. So, I had to be careful and made sure that I won’t slip!

Wet and slippery slopes on the Gellert Hill.
The climb to the hill proved to be arduous thanks to the rain and my heavy backpack. Maybe I should have specified these elements to ChatGPT. 😅
The peak is close! So near but yet so far. 😂

12:05pm – After about 20 minutes of ascent to the hill on its watery slopes, I finally reached the top… err, almost! Instead of reaching the peak, I was greeted with a barricade. I searched around for a way to get through until I finally learned that the peak is closed and sealed for renovations.

This is a failed destination on this ChatGPT-powered itinerary.

What the actual f?

Nooo… the peak of hill is closed. 🙈 So much effort to climb to here.

Ladies and gentlemen, this again just proves we can’t fully rely on artificial intelligence yet. It’s not updated and aware of current events.

So, from here, I had no choice but to start my descent.

12:40pm – On the way down, I chanced upon another café and thought it was a great place to have a cup of coffee and to recollect my thoughts for what just happened. lol

It’s raining and I’m going in!

Fifth stop: Lunch at Fakanal or Belvarosi Lugas Vendegio restaurant > Lunch at a café at Gellert Hill

It was really cozy here so I decided to scrap the lunch suggestions by ChatGPT and ate here instead, plus a cup of Americano and cheesecake dessert. Felt cheaper here than in France.

2:00pm – The trip-to-Budapest-for-a-day continues for the second half of the day!

The café turned out to be an excellent toilet stop. When travelling to a new city, it’s always good to know where you can “unload” as this can sometimes because a real emergency. And I don’t want to use free, public toilets for hygiene reasons and stressful pressure from (often) line of people waiting for their turn outside the cubicle.

Feeling lightweight and free, I continued to descend from the hill until my attention my drawn to the large, imposing wall of building in front of me…

It’s the Buda Castle. The enormous size of the castle complex speaks of the power this place used to hold in the past.
It’s really large even from a distance.

My next stop was supposed to be at the Hungarian National Museum. After I googled it and realized that I have already walked past it in the morning (the white sophisticated building shown earlier in this post), I decided to go rogue from my itinerary and head to the inviting Buda Castle instead.

This is the beauty of travelling solo. You can change your itinerary on the fly!

Sixth stop: Hungarian National Museum > Buda Castle Hill Grounds

So, to another hill I went! I climbed stairs after stairs and more wet slopes until I reached the castle grounds of Buda Castle.

Almost there!

The more I went up, the more I noticed that the rain had stopped. Nice, but it was replaced with freezing winds. So, I brought up the Windy app again and learned that Budapest is about to be hit by a wind storm. 🥴

Buda Castle’s castle grounds complex. From here, there’s a nice overlooking view of the western section of Budapest.
The Castle Hill town on the right.
The more I explore the castle grounds, the more I get stunned with the sights. It was basically a town inside the castle wall!

3:30pm – And after a short walk, I bumped into a breathtaking church: Budapest’s Matthias Church!

According to history, this church has served the citizens on the Buda Castle Hill since 1015.
Matthias Church on Budapest Castle Hill.

At this point, the winds began to blow hard and the gusts felt freezing.

As I walked by this church, I suddenly noticed a crowd of tourists gathering at the other side of the castle wall. So I went there and voilà, I discovered the best view of the city of Budapest!

An overlooking view of Budapest and the Danube River from the Castle Hill.
The obligatory selfie at Budapest’s best view.
The best view of Budapest from the Castle Hill.

3:45pm – While I was enjoying the best view of Budapest from a vantage point behind the Matthias Church, I began to notice that the gusts of winds have gotten stronger. I looked on my weather app again and figured that Budapest was caught in the middle of a windstorm! What an eventful day.

35 – 63 km/hr winds combing through Budapest.

From the Matthias Church, went down multiple staircases towards the direction of the Danube River. My next stop was supposed to be the St. Stephen’s Basilica, but I realized I have been there already the night before during my initial glimpses and reconnaissance of Budapest.

Here are some pics of the St. Stephen’s Basilica which I considered among the most beautiful church I have ever seen.

St. Stephen’s Basilica of Budapest, Hungary.
A scenic avenue leading to the St. Stephen Basilica. Very Instagrammy.

And here are some sights I took on my way down the Danube River.

Descent from the Castle Hill.
At least I’m going downhill now after so many unexpected hill climbs today.

Seventh stop: St. Stephen’s Basilica > View of the Budapest Parliament building

4:25pm – The path towards the Danube River led me to a stunning, closer view of the Hungarian Parliament Building. I have noticed this from afar so it was nice to see its beauty a bit closer.

View of the Hungarian Parliament Building from the other side of Danube River.
The windstorm didn’t bother me anyway.

After this, I went to another café nearby for a cup of black coffee and some snacks. However, this was mostly an excuse to escape the freezing winds.

Eighth stop: Andrassy Avenue > Fashion Street

5:30pm – I have ultimately gone rogue with my itinerary at this point. I would have considered going to Andras at Avenue but I received an email notification from Austria’s OBB rail company that my night train to Munich cannot be fulfilled due to the transportation strike in Germany. Instead, I have been told that my train will stop in Salzburg near the Austrian-German border.

Knowing this, I immediately entered emergency mode as it was predicted to be snowing and cold in Salzburg and I expect to arrive there at 2am. I need to find mittens quickly to protect myself from the cold.

To solve this, I went to the Fashion Street and bought what I needed there.

Budapest Fashion Street near Deák Ferenc square.

Ninth stop: Gellert Baths or Szechenyl Baths > Budapest Keleti train station

6:30pm – The thought of having a nice, relaxing bath in a popular bath in Budapest would have been nice if it wasn’t for the uncertainty of my night train to Munich.

Instead, I went to Budapest’s Keleti train station and verified if my train was even still on.

One of the train stations in Europe with the prettiest façades.
View inside the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary.

On the way out, I was greeted with a nice sight of the evening dusk.

Early evening in Budapest. View from outside of Keleti main train station.

Final stop: Dinner at Blaha Lujza Square > Starbucks outside of Keleti Station

My final stop for the day was a dinner at a Starbucks near the train station. 😂

I would have wanted some local Hungarian food but I am on a budget and most importantly, I need to charge my phones! So, Starbucks it is, Starbucks it was!

After chomping a hearty wrap and a cup of coffee, I returned to the Keleti train station to take my night train to Salzburg.

It has been nice! Thanks, Budapest. I’ll be back for sure.

It has been a nice, one full day in Budapest and I have been satisfied of what I saw and experienced despite the challenging weather. I will definitely come back!

Quick Thoughts on Using ChatGPT in Creating a Travel Itinerary

My personal test on ChatGPT’s generated full-day itinerary showed that it cannot be fully relied on.

It didn’t know that the café it recommended to me only opens at 9:30am but suggested me to go there at 9:00am instead. The worst case in my test is when it suggested to me to go to the Gellert Hill only for me to find out that the place was closed. Also, if I fully followed it’s itinerary, I would have missed visiting the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, and the breathtaking views from the Castle Hill.

It would have sucked.

Wilm I use it again?

Yes, but only for generating itinerary ideas. However, if I ever had to follow its recommended places, I would most likely do a double check on the opening times of those places, and check whether or not they are still open at all, just to be sure that I won’t end up wasting time and energy.

This was a live blog post that was continually being updated as it happened.

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