Szentendre to Budapest

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September 14th 2018
Published: September 20th 2018
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We started today’s route riding on quiet lanes and dykes. It seemed that we didn’t read our navigation instructions properly and ended up on a busy road, on the wrong side of the railway tracks, though thankfully only for a few kilometers. We eventually found the route and cycle lanes into the centre. The route into the city follows the Danube, passing Margaret Island and a number of bridges. We were aiming to cross at the Chain Bridge, where we would be within a kilometre of our accommodation at Wombat Hostel. The entrance is spectacular, passing impressive buildings and monuments, including the Parliament building on the opposite bank. To the right are the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and the citadel. The roads were busy, but the bike lanes were good. After crossing the Chain bridge, we made our way to Wombat City Hostel, (1061 Budapest, Kiraly u. 20), a massive bustling place with lots of young students and travellers. Bearing that in mind, we had booked a private room with ensuite rather than a bunk in a 40 bed dorm! It was very comfortable, very central, in an area full of bars and restaurants. Soon after checking in, we met up with friends David and Ilona, veterans of Bratislava, having an apartment here and visiting the city for 10 years. They have witnessed many changes in the city. When they first arrived, there was much less traffic and the cars were ancient relics of the Communist era. The city has seen huge redevelopment, restoration of historic buildings and it a much busier place. David and Ilona were perfect guides, leading us on a tour, and enabling us to see much more than we would have managed on our own. We ate in a new waterfront bar, simple but delicious food. Next day we set out on foot to explore the Buda side of the river. We also visited the extraordinary Market Building, with unbelievable displays of fruit and vegetables, homemade pickles, fish, meat and lots of Hungarian Paprika!. We then crossed the Elisabeth bridge to climb the Citadella, enjoy the superb views, and to see the Peace Lady, the monument at the top, which dominates the skyline. The views over the Danube and the historic buildings lining its banks, are fantastic. After a beer or two (we’re developing a Hungarian lifestyle) we were back on the bikes and heading to Margaret Park, where we were lucky to see a Son Et Lumiere performance, based on the colourfully illuminated fountain omnidirectional water jets, while listening to Hungarian classical music. The synchronisation between the water jets and the music was superb. We ate in the Drum Cafe, not far from the Wombat Hostel where the food is great quality and ridiculously cheap for a city. Had to wait a while for a table though, there was quite a queue for a table. Unfortunately we had only two days in this fascinating city, and will need to return. You need a lot of time to enjoy the riches of Budapest! Packing up tonight, then heading by train tomorrow from Budapest Deli to Balatonföldvár (2 hour journey) to spend a few days exploring the “Hungarian Sea”.

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