Friday 5 to Saturday 13 September
After receiving glowing reports of Budapest, we planned a trip to Hungary. It seemed easy enough – a few days in Budapest, hire a car to see some of the important sights such as Lake Balaton and the Danube River and back to Budapest.
Budapest was indeed a lovely city. Actually it is the twin cities of Buda on the western bank of the Danube River and Pest opposite. They were merged in 1873.
We managed to stay on both sides of the river. Before we headed out for our Hungarian road trip we stayed in a trendy hotel on the Pest side, which gave us a wonderful view of the castle on the Buda side. When we returned we stayed at the fabulous old Gellert Hotel described as Art-nouveau extravagance – the world’s most famous spa, opposite the Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge). Who could resist?
It was hot. The hop-on hop-off bus gave us the chance to get acquainted with the city. We walked, taking lots of opportunities to rest in the shade and/or rehydrate.
Summer was in full swing. There was a contingent of Danish football team supporters, enjoying a much cheaper holiday in Budapest. They were rowdy and the police were just close enough to check for trouble.
Much to our delight we found a wine festival was being held at the castle. Perfect combination.
Part of the city was ‘under construction’ as they were extending the transport system. The Millennium Underground Railway or Yellow Metro is the oldest in continental Europe and began operation in 1896, the thousandth anniversary of the arrival of the Magyars. And I thought it referred to the year 2000! It is simply built in a shallow ditch under Andrássy út a beautiful wide avenue, to protect it’s streetscape. Of course it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I am addicted to visiting markets and The Great Market Hall was not disappointing. It was close to the Liberty Bridge.
We had a strange encounter on the Liberty Bridge. I was standing admiring the view of the boats on the Danube when I got chatting to an English gentleman. He was on a two week holiday. He explained that he had come to Budapest to have crowns put on his teeth. It was a package deal, all planned and paid for in London. The package includes initial consultations in London, then the dental treatment, accommodation and transport in Budapest. He estimated it was a third of the cost of the same treatment in England. And he was having a holiday between treatments.
The city is just a s beautiful at night, so it was magic to wander around and try night photography. Unfortunately the parliament house was under renovation, so not lit up as spectacularly as we had hoped.
The hot weather lasted until our last day. As we boarded the train to Slovenia we were in jumpers and coats.