Sunday, May 19, 2013

Budapest

On our bus journey from Prague to Budapest, I realized that I had developed a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of each place we'd visited so far. I had decided that for Budapest I should make an effort to write about the good things for once. I need not have worried because we absolutely loved Budapest.

There were the inevitable irritations which I will dedicate only a single paragraph to. When we arrived at the bus station and I asked the information counter where I could change some money, the lady took her time finishing off her text message, looked up at me, considered killing me, and then managed to utter the word “ack”On the way to the apartments, we were met with a storm which was a bit off-putting as we splashed though puddles trying to find the address. The next issue was with the accommodation itself. It was my fault because I took my directions from the website instead of the email, so we ended up on the top floor of a decrepit old building with a rusty lift for almost an hour. After running out of ideas to rectify the situation, a lady came and informed us that we were at the incorrect address.

Now to the positives, of which there are many.Our apartments were great. We had it pretty much to ourselves, and it's location could not have been any better. When exiting the building we were right next to St Stephen's Cathedral. Budapest was a city which we didn't expect to have too much going on, but we were pleasantly surprised by what was on offer here. The river front on both sides of the Danube is dotted with historic buildings. On the Pest side, there are obviously the parliament buildings which are reason enough to book a visit to Budapest. On the Buda side there are hills with royal palaces, fortresses, castles, and far more than a single day worth of sites to see. The views from the hill tops were incredible, and again I'm glad for the time of year we came as nowhere did we feel as if it were too crowded.

Pip and I spent our first full day sightseeing and our second day relaxing at the Szechenyi thermal baths. The baths were built in 1913 and still retaining much of their splendor. People from all walks of life come to the bath in the mineral waters and sauna's. Again, we picked a fantastic time of year as there was plenty of room for us, although there were still lots of people around. The baths are similar to the Roman baths in England except here they are still in operation, possibly because they are not as ancient. We made use of the indoor and outdoor baths for a few hours, and I must say that they were worth every Forint, as Pip, and I both felt very relaxed for the remainder of the evening.

After dinner, we visited an ice cream shop which made it's ice creams into shapes of roses and we then ate on the steps of the Basilica. Over the past few days we have discovered three amazing ice cream/Gelato flavors (Dark chocolate, chilli dark chocolate, and orange sorbet). Our final evening in Budapest had an amazing sunset so we went for a big loop around river and over some bridges. We took some really nice photos of the sunset and the lights of the buildings as they came on, and night took over.

So Budapest is at the top of my list of destinations so far. We have now joined a Busabout tour where we head across Hungry on our way to Croatia and the Plitvice lakes.

View of Pest from the palace area

The baths

Huge market

St Stephen's

Our rose ice creams

Parliment

Chain bridge

Me and the chain bridge

Memorial to those shot and pushed into the Danube