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mistybleu Budapest - A travel report by Amanda
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Budapest,  Hungary - flag Hungary -  Budapest
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mistybleu's travel reports

Chocolate Bananas

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Budapest is the perfect city for a quick getaway; whilst there are many things to see, it could be done over 2 days, even having time to enjoy museums. From the UK it takes only 2 hours flying and has the time the same as Western Europe, GMT +1.

The Parliament Building
The Parliament Building
I think I was lucky to have great weather in early June, but generally the hottest time of the year is during the summer months between July and August when the temperatures reach on averages 28 degrees, but the main tourist areas becomes a little like the centre of Prague with a mass of people milling around.

The transportation system appeared to be really efficient, with many trams and buses, with a limited metro network; I think three lines. The journey from the airport only takes around 40 minutes by public transport; but it is a bitty journey as you have to take a bus (200E), a metro (Blue Line) a tram (4-6) and depending on where you hotel is located a bus.

Initially my aim was just to enjoy myself instead of sightseeing; but the architecture drew me in; so here are some of my favourite spots:

1. Exploring Buda Castle Palace and wandering the streets of Castle Hill including Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion was really fantastic. Whilst entrance to Castle Hill complex is free, you will have to pay an entrance fee for the museums.

2. I marvelled at Heroes Square and spent a half an hour or so enjoy some performers doing tricks.

3. See the sights from the river especially the enchanting parliament building or take in an evening dinner cruise.

4. Experience the city from Gellert Hill and Citadel, the views are really great. Gellert is the patron saint of the city and reference to him can be seen across the city.

5. Enjoy coffee in one of the 5 star hotels like New York Palace; the newly renovated hotel looks positively opulent but has a great feel.

6. Relax on Margaret Island, located in the middle of the Danube; it is very quite there, and a great place to take some time out from all that sightseeing. There are quadricycles for rental, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an outdoor gym, as well as cafes and restaurants.

7. Or better yet spend the afternoon in a spa.

Even though the second language is German, English is widely spoken.

Favourite spots:
Fishermen's Bastion
Fishermen's Bastion
Heading up to Castle Hill has the making of a really great day out. The Buda Castle Palace area is full with museums and offers wonderful sights of the city. But even just looking at the buildings was good enough as the architecture is outstanding.

Moving up the road to see Matthias Church, another great building, the roof is made up of little coloured tiles, at present it was being renovated and to raise money you can sponsor a tile. I admired views of the church but didn’t venture inside, I then headed towards the river where I arrived at Fishermen’s Bastion. This group of seven fairytale like towers were almost destroyed in World War II and were built to celebrate the efforts of the fishermen who protected the wall in the middle ages.

Castle Hill is opposite the parliament building on the edge of the Danube and there is a wonderful little café there that has perfect views.

What's really great:
A city full of trams
A city full of trams
The ease of getting around the city was really great and fairly cheap – I suppose in comparison to UK. From the metro station I obtained a three day travel card which was cost effective (3,700 HUF) as each journey was 290HUF. In the airport you can also obtain tickets from the Relay store near the arrival gate.

The trams were very clean and modern, but some of the buses and the metro system were quite old or should I say retro. But with all the travelling around over the weekend I didn’t wait more than a minute for a bus, train or tram.

The new Europe; I was told that Hungarians don't like people starring at them; but what I found out was that they are happy to stare at others and make them feel uncomfortable; but hey that was just me. I speak slightly tongue in cheek when I say the people were very nice and welcoming. A few of the locals were very friendly especially in the hotel and restaurants.

The exchange rate is £1= 308HUF, €1=270, $1=190.

St Stephen's Bascilica
St Stephen's Bascilica
Here are some of the things to do and see in Pest:

The Hungarian State Opera House which was reopened in 1984 after extensive renovations. A performance here would be stunning. Heroes Square a wonderful expanse that leads on to City Park. The Parliament building, although the views from Buda are better, the parliament building is on the Pest side. The area is quite central as you can get to the Postal Savings Bank, the Academy of Science, which leads on to St Stephens Basilica (which took 55 years to build and it is said to have used 41kg of 24-carkat gold). Visit a few of the 5* hotels which are housed in wonderful buildings including the Hilton in the castle district, the New York Palace Hotel on Erzsebert Krt, Four Seasons on Roosevelt.

Do a bit of shopping on Andrassy Street, where you find some designer shops or head to Vaci Utca for more high street shopping, it also has places for buying souvenirs.

Atlantic Hotel
Atlantic Hotel
If time is short, it is probably better to stay in the heart of the city maybe over looking the Danube or you are forever travelling to and from the river between Buda and Pest.

I stayed a little on the outside but as I’d purchased a travel card it was fine.

The Atlantic hotel is a newly renovated 3 star hotel; and they really tried to make me feel welcomed. The staff speaks English well and gave some good advice; although asking them to recommend a local restaurant was a little too much to ask for. For some reason the hotel seemed more like an apartment block than a hotel. The rooms were basic but comfortable and they had cable TV with a few English channels.

Wine tasting in the park
Wine tasting in the park
During the summer months there are many festivals around the city, including the carnival that occurs on Margaret Island and the festival in the City Park. The weekend I was there one of the events was a wine tasting in the park and not only could you taste wine but also buy food and enjoy the local entertainment. I had a really enjoyable afternoon.

Folk dance
Folk dance
Budapest seems to be the stag weekend central, is it really important to choose restaurants and bars carefully. I ended up in a sports bar on a Saturday with a (thank goodness) local stag party. These guys seems to be having a really good time but wasn’t too loud. The service was good and the food was even better. You have to try the Goulash soup it is a local favourite and only coast 860HUF.

Paprika is the main ingredient in most Hungarian dishes and that includes the infamous Goulash soup, which is made with beef, potatoes, onions and is seasoned with paprika.

Box Utca is centrally located, within walking distance from St Stephen’s Basilica. St Stephen’s Basilica is located on the pedestrainised Vorosmarty and is a very nice area to stop for a coffee or a sandwich, but owing to its location it is quite expensive.

Other recommendations:
Heroes Square
Heroes Square
Definitely head out of the city for a day trip to maybe Pecs (a historical city located in the slopes of the Mecsek Hills between the Danube and Drava rivers) or to Szentendre a small town beside the Danube only 20km from Budapest. You can do a boat tour to Szentendre and return by coach.

But if you only do one thing here it would be to enjoy one of the many spas. The guide book recommended the thermal baths at Gellert Hotel. It costs around 1200HUF to enter but the building is truly magical with the stain glass windows etc. The good thing is that you can book an appointment before hand to really enjoy the experiences. But I went for the local recommendation and they suggested that I head to the spa in City Park.

Published on Monday August 31th, 2009

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Wed, Sep 16 2009 - 01:56 AM rating by bineba

This brings back many memories of my school trip to Budapest many, many years ago. Thank you!

Fri, Sep 11 2009 - 10:32 AM rating by marianne

What a joy to read. I was in Budapest about two years ago and loved it.

Thu, Sep 03 2009 - 01:48 PM rating by porto

Nice one Amanda. Budapest is on my list and your report and pics are inspiring,well done.

Thu, Sep 03 2009 - 07:11 AM rating by louis

Nice report Amanda. It bring me back a lot of sweet memories. I always regreted that I hadn't time to go to the baths. Thanks for sharing

Mon, Aug 31 2009 - 06:07 PM rating by krisek

Sweet report, Amanda. With plenty of practical tips. Thank you!

Mon, Aug 31 2009 - 07:56 AM rating by pesu

Fine informative report, Amanda. I have never been to Budapest before and you really activated the wish to go there. :) Thanks for sharing!

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