Budapest is a tough act to follow, but if you are heading back west, why not stop in Zagreb? It's a place with a synthesis of old and new--a tough city with edge.
Croatia is a country renown for the natural beauty of their lakes and beaches. I strongly encourage you to visit in Summer, or at least sometime before September, to enjoy these nice nature-bits. I didn't, and it was literally freezing at night. But there is still much to enjoy in Zagreb!
Great people! Cheap alcohol! It's part of that region of Europe that you can hang out for a while and not worry about all of your money disappearing via cost of living osmosis. So you can hit the town and try quite the range of Croatian drinks, which involve several brewed with honey and other berries, and a variety of artificially flavored beer! And any place where alcohol flows cheap is a good place to keep an eye on the pulse of Europe.
And cemeteries! Do you like cemeteries?
As far as free things to do, Mirogoj Cemetery is a beautiful place to walk around and tell ghost stories. Note: it is especially Pretty during the day, and less creepy. Definitely pretty with better light levels.
|Insert plot here.|
|Flowers are so last century.|
That's a weird request, Italics, but no problem! Zagreb's got that.
So check out Zagreb! Croatian hospitality can't be beat. And be sure to try the ajvar. Have a drink or three. It might set you back $5. Go thrift store shopping, and try to find a leather jacket for under $3 (I know I did!). Eight dollars well spent! Tour the city and take in the inspiring architecture above, and the inspiring architecture below!
|Bonus yellow. Trams!|
|Maybe less inspiring. Cubist, cubist.|