A few blissful days by the Danube


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Europe » Hungary » Central Hungary » Budapest » Pest
August 23rd 2016
Published: December 21st 2016
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We took a morning train and after a very uneventful journey got to Budapest shortly after noon. Then a few metro stops and soon after we were walking along the Danube towards our apartment. No rain here for days it seemed... and no rain and clouds for the next few days either... Temperature in the high 20sC... I liked it here already. The girl from the apartment was already waiting for us in front of the building and a few seconds later we jumped on a dodgy elevator and got off at the 4thfloor... It was definitely a one of a kind elevator - it was surrounded by the staircase and when you stepped inside, it felt as if the bottom of it dropped down a good few centimetres... On top of that you were not only locked inside by the elevator’s door but another door was sliding right behind it... I have experienced my fair share of dodgy elevators when living in Poland – probably most of them are still in use to this day, but none of them freaked me out as much as this one... The best was yet to come though as the moment we stepped out of the elevator I almost got a small heart attack – open courtyard with super narrow path leading to the apartments and the only thing protecting us from hitting the bottom floor was a very low, old barrier... Walking as close to the wall as possible we made it to the apartment... Pheeew...

It was a beautiful day outside, so we dropped our bags, closed our eyes, made it through the scary courtyard once again, survived the elevator ride and were ready for our first stroll through Hungary’s capital. I had no doubt that every time we would have to get to or from our apartment I’d be getting shivers... I never really had a fear of heights or open spaces but I think it might be a work in progress... The older I get, the more I am freaked out about looking a few floors down... Maybe it’s just the gravity that’s pulling me down a bit stronger the older I get... Anyway... It was time to check out the centre of Budapest...

First a search for a place to eat of course... We were staying close to the Great Market Hall, so it only made sense
My favourite sculpture in BudapestMy favourite sculpture in BudapestMy favourite sculpture in Budapest

Miniature Budapest with king and queen reaching over to each other from both sides of the river... so romantic!
to check if they had any good snacks or street food there... The actual section with the ‘fast food’ was quite small though and way overcrowded, we stopped for a quick beer instead and just observed the crowds for a while. The prices around were slightly higher than I thought they would be, I guess we would just need to find some places to eat a bit out of the tourist zones if we wanted to pay a bit less... There was no time to do that at that moment though as the bellies were rumbling so we just sat down at one of the restaurants close to the market. I thought of ordering something unusual, some local speciality and for a moment was really contemplating on tasting some livers, goulash cravings after Bratislava were still very strong though so settled for goulash in the end while Grant tried some sausages with stuffed cabbage. Pretty good meal, it would have been even nicer if it cost a bit less though... As we were sitting down enjoying our late lunch, we have noticed quite a few people walking around with some gigantic ice creams – dessert sorted then! And we didn’t really need to walk too far away searching for it as a few steps further there was an ice cream stand and the portions were veeery generous! As we later found out the portions sizes and prices were very different around the centre and as far as we were concerned this place beat all the other ones in both – 500fl for a gigantic and tasty scoop, a real bargain! We were back a few times of course...

As usual we didn’t have anything planned for our first day there, just walking around, trying to get the general atmosphere of the place. And after that day we knew we were going to like it here for sure! Beautiful architecture, quite a few people around and yet it didn’t feel too crowded at all, plenty things to see around, not to mention an absolutely beautiful weather, if we the only thing we did here was strolling by the Danube, we would leave very happy... We decided to check out a thing or two while here though...

Rather than walking aimlessly the next day, we actually had a look at the map and put a few things on the agenda. First on the list was the Jewish neighbourhood. We headed straight to the Great Synagogue. It was quite impressive from the outside for sure... We were slightly less impressed about the entrance fee to the synagogue and the museum so after a short deliberation decided that what we saw from the outside would just have to do... Instead we just circled the different streets of the neighbourhood until we came across a street food market. It looked really welcoming and even though it wasn’t exactly lunch time yet, we thought why not having an early bite then? Especially that they had some of the local dishes – the main one being ‘langos’ of course. My friend was raving about it after she came back from Budapest, so I put my hopes high and taste buds wide open for this one. I have to say that... I was slightly underwhelmed though... The dough was very greasy and in general the dish was simply lacking in flavour – they say that simple food is sometimes the best and I couldn’t agree more, only not here unfortunately... I didn’t cross ‘langos’ off my list yet though and thought I might give it a second chance in the following days... At least beers didn’t disappoint, but do they ever? 😉

Next we headed in the direction of the Heroes Square. Since we were passing next to the Museum of Terror, we thought we might as well learn a bit about Hungary’s history straight away. The Museum is located in the building which was the headquarters of both – Nazis and the communists, which already made it very interesting. I have to say I was really impressed by this museum – it was very informative, interactive and had lots of interesting items on display. Not to mention that we were walking through the actual prison at the end of the tour... After a visit here I have realised how little I actually knew about Hungary’s involvement in the World War II. I guess in every country the main emphasis in schools is put on teaching mostly that country’s history... On top of that there are so many subjects and so much to learn that students hardly have time to broaden their knowledge about particular subject... So it’s only in museums like that is where we have a chance to learn a bit more and from a different perspective and this museum certainly ticked all the boxes...

From there we strolled further along through Andrassy Avenue all the way to the Heroes Square and next we walked through the Vajdahunyad Castle, which actually turned out to be no castle at all – just a model built for some late 19th century celebrations. We also checked out the famous Széchenyi baths, which are meant to be one of the largest and most popular baths in Budapest. It was certainly a popular place as we only had a quick look inside and it was packed! Quite steep price as well – for a short visit at least, but I guess that once you go there, you probably spend most of your day there... It wasn’t something we had in plans to do though – not only we didn’t have anything to change to, but also sitting with Millie in a crowded pool like that just didn’t seem like the best idea, so a quick peek through the window turned out to be our whole adventure with the Budapest baths in the end.

The following day we decided to check out the other side of the river so we crossed over through the Liberty Bridge to Buda for the day. Pushing the pram up to the Citadella on the Gellert Hill was a bit of a struggle... Not only it was steep, but there were also numerous paths everywhere and we could only guess which one would take us to the top as there were no signs anywhere... Over 30C heat didn’t help either... Once we got to the top though we were rewarded with a beautiful panorama of Budapest so it was well worth it. From there we walked to the castle. We wandered around the castle grounds and after we found a piece of grass with a little bit of shade just sat down and munched on the enormous peaches we bought at the Central Market earlier on – fruit here looks great but tastes even better! I was quite impressed by Matthias Church – loved the contrast between the colourful roof and the white outer walls. The Fisherman’s Bastion was quite interesting as well – at first it seemed a bit out of place but at the same time coexisted well with the surrounding buildings... It seemed like a long day, but we really enjoyed walking around and getting to know some parts on Buda’s side.

We ended up going for a meal to the same street market as the day before, even though it was a bit out of the way... What can I say, the pulled pork bun Grant had the day before was on my mind the whole day... Once we got back to the apartment I realised we have been walking the whole day in a 30C heat without drinking hardly anything – except for Millie of course... As a hungry and thirsty baby is a cranky baby so we make sure she has plenty of food and water throughout the day... Too bad I forgot to get some water for myself and flush my body out of toxins though... Peeing the two drops when I got home turned out to be quite painful... Oops! Straight to the shop we went hoping it wasn’t bladder infection just yet and that some cranberry juices would work their magic... Gulping down a big bottle in the supermarket turned out to be not such a great idea as I saw it in my mind at all as I barely made it home afterwards... Hoped for the best for the next day though...

We had in plans to do a short day trip to Szentendre that day but put it all on hold to see if my bladder would behave first... It seemed all back on track in the morning though so we decided to stick to our plans. I’ve read there was an open air museum worth visiting in Szentendre but the buses from the town to the museum weren’t that regular so decided to go there first just in case. Three metro changes and a 45-minute train journey and we were in Szentendre. Than a bit of a frantic run around the bus station to find our bus – the train was a bit late and the next bus to the museum was in three hours so it was either now or never... We were in luck though as we did catch the bus and a few minutes later were in the museum already. There were only a few people around – it was going to be a really quiet visit it seemed. We got the tickets and jumped on the old ‘sightseeing’ train. In the leaflet it said that they tried to stick to the original features and that even the train conductor would be dressed in the traditional clothes... Hmmm... Nike’s shoes and some other brand’s T-shirt? I guess the hat was supposed to compensate for the other parts of the outfit... Sorry but I didn’t buy it... The train ride was quite a bit of a disappointment as well – no information as to what we were passing by and on top of that you could see hardly anything as the trees were in the way... We jumped off at the last station and decided to slowly walk back through the exhibits. The museum was divided into little villages, each representing a different region of Hungary from the 18th to 20th centuries. As interesting as seeing different style of buildings and old items was, I thought there was a lot of room for improvement though... The museum was really large – way too much empty space in between the villages... These spaces could’ve been used in so many ways – playgrounds, coffee shops, restaurants, maybe some other entertainment areas? We came by one playground but it was placed totally in the middle of nowhere – wondered if anyone ever stopped there actually? Also there was hardly any information in English and many houses were closed... In the end we skipped some parts and after an hour and a half walking, decided to have a drink somewhere and wait for the bus instead. As we were sitting and sipping our beers at a restaurant by the entrance, a big group of Americans came in (it looked like some organised tour from a cruise ship). They got a private cooking show on how to prepare traditional goulash – I wondered then why they didn’t have shows like that planned throughout the day for the tourists who made it to the museum on their own? Ah well... In the end we didn’t really regret coming here, but simply wished there was more to it than what we have seen...

The bus came right on time and soon after we were on our way back to Szentendre. And then it all started again... Sudden urge to pee, thankfully the bus ride was really short, then another frantic run around the bus station trying to find a toilet... Pfeeeeww... For a few minutes at least... A quick visit to the pharmacy and some over the counter medicine, hoping it would fix my ‘annoying problem’ at least a little bit... As we started to walk towards the centre I knew I had to sit somewhere close to the toilet – it would take a while before the pill would start working its magic and I probably needed to drink some big quantity of water to flush out the bad stuff from my body anyway... We found a nice little restaurant and 1,5litre of water and 4 visits to the toilet later, I seemed to be getting slightly better but was getting really annoyed and exhausted though... We couldn’t just stay at the restaurant the whole day so it was time to move on... Another visit to the toilet here and there and finally it looked like the pill started working... Pfeeeeww... Finally a chance to do some sightseeing then...

And what a lovely town Szentendre was! We actually started regretting now not coming here straight away rather than going to the museum... Ah well... We still had a good few hours to spend here... Charming narrow streets, colourful buildings and that cosy atmosphere of the little town... We loved it here! We walked around the narrow streets, stopped for another beer here and there – for Grant only this time as I tried to stay away from the toilet for a while – way too many visits for one day! We strolled by the Danube as well and after seeing some boats offering cruises from Budapest to Szentendre and back wondered why we didn’t come up with that idea... It could’ve been a nice short cruise for sure, ah well – at least we made it here at all! As we were making our way back to the train station we came across a little playground and just couldn’t help ourselves and let Millie out and play with other kiddies for a while. And what a joy it was to see her get right into it straight away! She certainly is not shy at all. Soooo proud! 😊 Overall we enjoyed our trip to Szentendre and even for a moment thought about coming here the next day again but decided to spend our last day wandering around Budapest instead. We love little towns like this though and were looking forward to seeing more little gems like this along the way.

On our last day in Budapest we just strolled around our favourite places – long walk by the Danube watching the numerous cruise ships docked all along the river and wondering whether one of them was the Australian ‘bargain deal’ for ‘only $15,000 a fortnight... We hanged around the Liberty Bridge as well – cut off from the traffic, so empty during the day and yet so vibrant during the late afternoon hours (probably during the evening/night even more so – we never really lasted that long though), full of people with chairs, hammocks, blankets, having drinks and little picnics all around... Absolutely incredible atmosphere! You could also see quite a few daredevils here – walking all the way to the top of the bridge to get the best selfie or some simply slightly mad, going all the way to the top to drink a six pack or two... Wasn’t I just getting old(er) and boring to think that this was just plain stupid? I sure did my fair share of silly things when I was in my early twenties, don’t think whether back then I would feel the urge to be climbing bridges like that though... but then who knows... Thankfully there were no bridges like that to climb in Elblag or Gdansk... 😉

We spent quite a bit of time that day doing pretty much nothing, just sitting somewhere on the grass, letting Millie crawl around making sure she didn’t pick up any cigarette buds, observing people around and relaxing... It was another beautiful sunny day and we really enjoyed every moment of it. Our day wouldn’t be complete without a stop at our favourite ice cream stand of course and a lovely farewell dinner – why not having a goulash once again? Or something similar – this time it was called something different, but to be honest it still looked and tasted like a goulash to me!

We really enjoyed our time in Budapest and thought that we could’ve easily spent a few more days in Budapest – we really loved this city and there was no doubt that there was still much more to see and do around here. It wasn’t the end of our adventure in Hungary just yet though. We were heading to a different region now, to see the biggest lake in Hungary – lake Balaton. And we found just the right place to stay at. Next stop: Tihany!


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23rd December 2016

Cheapskates of the world unite
We are so glad we are not the only ones to balk at the entry fees to sites. We both were shocked at the cost to enter the Great Synagogue and the baths and decided to give them a miss and you sort of feel upset that you don't see them and also angry that they are so expensive, but it is always compensated when you can get a cheap meal and a beer. Looking back at our trip we both really loved our time at Budapest and you reminded us of what a fantastic place it is.
26th December 2016

Cheapskates of the world unite
Well said! I also do feel bad for skipping some places, but some entrance fees are simply way over the top... Happy to hear I brought you back some good memories from Budapest. :)
24th December 2016

Blue Danube
Song have been inspired by the great beauty of this area. Historic and modern day converge. Love the food photos!
26th December 2016

Blue Danube
I can't say I know this song, so will have to check it out but I have no doubt that this place inspired a lot of people as it sure has a special kind of aura around it.

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