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June 2nd 2009
Published: July 23rd 2009
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View of Danube from my room 2View of Danube from my room 2View of Danube from my room 2

Looking toward the Parliament

Budapest Day 16-21 (June 2-7)

It was another morning of increasingly larger trains for our journey to Budapest our last stop of the trip. Time for sourcing more currency this time the Florin (twelfth currency from 14 countries visited). We had a short orientation walk and then headed down to view the Danube. It is really wide at this point and crossed by many impressive bridges. The main one being the chain bridge.

On the Buda side of the river stands the castle/palace (now used as a gallery) and on the Pest side is the very impressive Parliament building. Budapest has many magnificent buildings, some cleaned and renovated and others waiting to be. It is a city that is warm and somehow welcoming because it hasn’t been pristinely cleaned up yet (it appears to have once been a great city like Vienna, but I found that I preferred the feel of the slightly more run down Budapest).

We had our final night dinner, with most staying on in Budapest independently a few extra days. Three of us went on a guided bike ride around town, with another great local guide who gave us good insight into the history of Hungary as well as orientation around town. The roads where fairly flat, until we crossed the Chain bridge and headed up the hill to the Castle. I certainly had to walk my bike toward the end despite it being a well geared bike.

The view from the top was worth it, and of course coming back down the hill was a pleasure. It was moving day for me, as I had booked a different hotel on the Buda side. I collected my bag from the hotel and decided that I could walk to my new hotel (it was a 45 minute walk).

The hotel had a fantastic view over the Danube and I knew that it would be a good place to relax in. The balcony was not really one, but there were French style doors that opened with a railing there to lean on. From this vantage point I could view the river traffic, the chain bridge and the magnificent Parliament building.

I then headed back to Pest side where I had left laundry to be done, and bumped into fellow travellers again and said farewells for the third time. Collecting some supermarket fair for tea, I headed back to my hotel for what I thought was a well deserved rest after a day of exercise. I would sleep well that night.

I had four days in Budapest before changing hotels to begin my next trip. I spent the time exploring the town, as well as taking a day trip with the trip leader who was waiting for her next trip to begin. The little town of Szentendre about 50 minutes by train from Budapest. It was very nice but not very large and we had explored it well and truly before the return ferry (that we had thought of taking back via the Danube) would run, so we opted to just return the same way we had come - by train.

I also took a guided tour of the Parliament building, with our guide translating into English and German. It makes you feel so lazy not to have learned any languages. The inside of the building was as impressive as the outside, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera. The Parliament building design was the winner of a competition, with the second and third place buildings also being liked so much that they were constructed for other purposes nearby. However, it is clear that this building was far and away the best design.

The last day I met my leader for a coffee on an Island in the middle of the Danube. It was a very hot morning, and coffee places were scarce but we eventually found one, just before a weather breaking storm broke. We rode out the storm for a couple of hours and eventually was able to head back and say our farewells.

I made my way to my new hotel via the subway. My next trip was a basix trip and so a lower grade of hotel was one of the features. I found it but encountered no record of my stay recorded and a helpful but only Hungarian speaking man on reception. I had heard from my previous leader that there was just me and another couple so tried to explain I was with a group and there should be a room for me only. Some calls to an English speaking manager and much confusion saw me put in a room with someone else who I hoped was on the same trip.

I watched some of the French open to fill in some time before we were meant to meet with our leader. My room-mate came back and fortunately she was on the same tour as a late booking. We went down stairs at the right time and waited until we began to wonder if we both were in the wrong place. Eventually our leader arrived, followed closely by the couple who had been delayed at the airport and had not known that they had been travelling together from Istanbul. And so another trip’s first night dinner and meetings were under way.

Having spent almost a week in Budapest, I’ve decided that it is probably the Capital city I have enjoyed the most. It is warm and welcoming, with an unfinished fell to it. I will look forward to a brief return at the end of the next trip.

Additional photos below
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Budapest TramBudapest Tram
Budapest Tram

I don't know why Melbourne thinks we are so special with our trams...they are everywhere in the cities I've been to!

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