HUNGARY

Budapest

We got the bus to the first metro station then exited at Oktogon station to find EasyHotel Budapest. It was clearly inferior to its sister hotel in Rotterdam. We stayed in an economic room. The air con is controlled by the reception, the room was much smaller, the duvet wasn’t long enough to cover your feet, but worst of all they charged for the WiFi! On the plus side it was cheaper than Rotterdam and just round the corner from many restaurants and walking distance from the sites. It was only 3 mins from Oktogon Metro Station, on line 1 (yellow line). £28 per night, but there’s a fee for checking out a couple of hours later than 10am, and £4 to leave your bags in the storeroom per 24 hours, regardless of how many.

St Stephen's Cathedral, Budapest Opera house, Buda at night, TGI FridaysWe went to TGI Friday’s on our first night and had some delicious steak. After dinner we wandered towards the Danube, past all the designer shops and a beautiful opera building. Then we saw the impressive St. Stephen’s Basilica, before catching our first glimpse of the breath-taking Buda Hill, the Cable Bridge and the magnificent Parliament building, all lit up for our viewing pleasure. What a fabulous site! Worth seeing at night from the river bank but best visited during the day for its stunning views.

The following day we walked to the Chain Bridge then took the funicular railway towards Buda Castle (1,100 florints one way up Buda hill and 1,600 return), where we took in the views and saw the changing of the guards. Compared to the Buckingham Palace one, there were a lot fewer guards, but beautiful in its own way. We then strolled across the hill to Matthias Church, where the Hungarian Kings are crowned, checking out the amazing colourful roof tiles. Just next to it is the Fisherman’s Bastion,St Mathew's Church, The Fisherman's Bastion, Cable car, Buda Castle, Changing of Guards, Parliament. another breathtaking site. What an amazing place! It has Disney-like towers and arches, a calm atmosphere and some fabulous views of Pest and the Parliament building, which by the way was inspired by its London counterpart. We found our way down the hill (no need to pay for return ticket for the funicular railway). It took us only around fifteen minutes to walk back to the Cable Bridge. We stopped for lunch on the way to the Parliament. After that we saw the heartbreaking Holocaust Memorial; dozens of pairs of shoes (adult and children’s sizes) left on the bank of the river to represent the Jews killed. People had left flowers in them as a sign of respect. Finally, we wondered to the Parliament building. What a grand building! It was definitely worth visiting it.

The following day we strolled down Andrassy street, following the route of the Metro, out-of-town to Heroes’ square. There we saw statues commemorating the Hungarian Kings and other notables, in a geometrically paved square flanked by the Mucsarnok museum on one side and the Szepmuveszeti (Fine Arts) museum on the other. Behind the memorial lies the park where we saw the beautiful Vajdahunyad Castle, and the pedalos on the river. Wandering through the park, we saw some ducks diving, sticking their bottoms in the air which I found really funny. We saw the open air Szechenyi Thermal Bath (fed by the natural hot springs), an amusement park and a circus. Even the cool wind couldn’t spoil the spectacle. We walked back to the hotel, stopping to use the WiFi in a cafe, and getting some lunch at Oktogon. There we bumped into a jovial bunch of Brazilians from Minas Gerais before we grabbed Subway to eat later, while killing time waiting for our flight in the airport.

Heroes' square, Memorial, Szechenyi Thermal Bath Spa and Vajdahunyad Castle.

Heroes Square

We flew to Baku in Azerbaijan for 3 to 4 days, then flew back to Budapest to stay another day before flying back to London.

We checked in a larger room this time at EasyHotel. The only difference was that the room was a bit more spacious.

In the morning of our last day we walked to the Budapest Central Market Hall, which was a good 20 minute stroll but worth the effort. The hall was situated at one end of another one of Budapest’s pretty, oldOld Markert and their handicraft bridges. It was a huge, yet elegant brick building chock full of stalls, split across two levels. I was window-shopping for their exquisite handmade table cloths, all about £50, and Mark was enjoying the different souvenirs available such as the comedy T-shirts.

We then strolled down a pretty street, popped into another Burger King to use the WiFi and the toilets, before heading back to St Stephen’s Basilica, where we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view. We then picked up the luggage and made our way to the airport to end the first leg of our trip.

Four full days are enough to visit all the sights. However, you won’t get bored staying longer. I personally would have loved to have spent another couple of days there just to relax and enjoy the city. What a lovely place!

———

Our five day, four night trip to Budapest cost 64,350 Hungarian Florints for two people excluding flights. (Prices accurate as at May 2014).

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Travel, history, tourism and entertainment.

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