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Published: June 23rd 2019
We had set in motion ideas for our 10th Anniversary quite some time earlier. I had always fancied a cruise and so a cruise to Norway was booked. In the meantime several life events have overtaken us and the high price tag and Southampton departure meant it wasn't such a good option. So thinking caps back on and a trip to Hungary, Slovakia and Austria with rail connections ticked all the boxes 😅
The Ryanair flight ✈️ to Budapest was mid afternoon and although it was more costly than our usual flights, it wasn't bad at £216 for the both of us which included the priority and extra leg room. The timing was perfect though - time for me to get my nails done 💅 in the morning without rushing, along with a late lunch at the airport. As usual the flight left on time and was generally uneventful. It wasn't long before we landed in Budapest. Budapest airport was a bit of a nightmare and it took well over an hour to get through passports 😡. Thankfully our booked taxi was still there and we were soon at our hotel - Hotel Parliament 😅 . The hotel was well
appointed and about a 10 walk to the nearest tram stop, situated in the 'Pest' part of town. As a nice surprise the hotel had put in our room some fresh orange juice, chocolates and an anniversary card ❤️
The transport system in Budapest consisted of trams 🚃 and buses 🚌 and it appeared that regardless of distance you used one ticket each. A book of 10 tickets cost 3000HUF - about £8.25
By this point we were feeling quite hungary so headed out in search of food 🍽 . Within a couple of minutes we were seated in this lovely cosy restaurant down one of the back streets. We enjoyed a great meal of goulash and ratoutulli and several drinks. Although it was getting on for 10pm the weather was still really hot - about 30'c 🌞 and the salty nature of the food meant we gulped back several pints of water . . The bill came to a pleasant £25 approx and we couldn't fault the service. The money in Hungary had quite a complicated exchange rate so it was difficult to work out but hopefully we gave a sensible tip. The restaurant seemed
happy so all was good 😅
Wary of the hot weather and how it might be hotter in the morning, we decided to head into the town and have a look around. The Parliament building was the first thing we came across, and what a sight it was, especially with the night lights and moonlight . Apparently it is the largest building in Hungary and we were certainly in awe of it's splendor. Next we came across the chain bridge 🌉, again another amazing structure and gave great views of the river and over to 'Buda'. The riverfront was actually quite busy with party go-ers but it was soon time for our bedtime. We decided to go back via the 'Shoes on the Danube', a very poignant reminder of the people who were shot during WW2 😥. Our 6th anniversary was filled with lots of WW2 and to be honest we felt rather emotionally drained towards the end so were determined this wasn't going to be the case this time. Nevertheless we felt we had to pay our respects at the shoes.
Then bedtime....and thankfully very comfortable! 😅 🛏 No coffee machine or kettle
After a refreshing night's sleep we woke up and enjoyed the breakfast which was included in our room rate. The spread was quite impressive and the staff were all very helpful 😋 . We were soon waddling out to start our day in Budapest. The heat was intense 🌞 , around the 34/35'c so we decided a trip on the Danube was in order ⛴ . Sadly there had been a major incident a couple of weeks earlier when a lot of tourists sadly lost their lives when two boats collided .😥 , this meant that trips on the river were temporarily suspended. So off for cocktails (non alcoholic of course!) whilst we decided on our next move 🍹
So plan B consisted of a trip on the children's railway 🚂, so called as the majority of staff are in fact children. This did mean a trip on both a bus and tram totalling about 40mins to get there. The actual railway was quite blissful. We travelled in the first class coach on our own at no extra cost, so in all a good afternoon and quite cost effective 😀
We were then back in Budapest,
or rather Buda where we enjoyed great views looking over the city and the Danube before heading down the Funicular back to ground level.
It was then dinner time and again we struck lucky with a nice little cafe down one of the quiet streets. Then it was time for bed...the long way round as we got to grips with the Budapest transport system.
The next day, after our usual gluttony at breakfast, we made a quick dash up to Hero's Sq. This impressive monument forms the gateway to the City Park and depicts 14 major figures who have have an impact on Hungary's history. As the weather was still quite unbearably hot we decided to try the river cruise again. There was one where you started off on land and it turned into a boat on the water and today it was running so we hopped aboard the 12'oclock departure and enjoyed a nice trip around the city before entering the Danube. Sadly it was cut short due to the recent events but nevertheless it was quite fun.
Next on the list was a trip to the Eastern Railway station,
which had been recommended due to its stunning architecture and it didn't disappoint. By this point we had seen most things on our 'must do' list so it was time to think outside of the box. Andrew. predictably wanted a train ride out to the end of the H5 suburban railway 🚇 . I wanted to go to somewhere pretty. As luck would have it, one of the places on the 'pretty list' was also at the end of the H5 - Jackpot! 🤗 So we were soon on our way to Szentendre. Andrew, of course loved the train cos it was old, but then that meant no air conditioning so I was certainly relieved when we eventually landed....it was a long 30mins!
Szentendre was a quaint but obvious tourist destination, full of pedestrian cobbled streets lined with tourist shops. First stop had to be ice cream before we started to peruse the shops .🍦 . Amazingly despite the 34'c heat, the thing which caught my attention was a gorgeous winter wool hat 👒At an approximate cost of almost £60, I really couldn't justify it especially since I have been known to leave them on trains so
we plodded on into the nearest bar. As we drank our way through some more non alcoholic beer, Andrew decided that it was our anniversary and a new hat was definitely needed so back we went .💏 . The shop owners were thrilled to see us and even threw in a fridge magnet as a thank you. We are probably the only tourists in history to actually go back to a tourist shop! 😊
The only other thing left to do was the tram across the river and thankfully this trip was actually the route back to the hotel. We figured dinner would be an easy find en route and it wasn't long before we found ourselves in a self service turkish kebab shop. Once we had got to grips with the system, the meal was nice and very good value. So back to the hotel for an early night as tomorrow we were heading to Bratislava.
After breakfast we headed to the Railway Station - Budapest Nygati for our 11.40 train to Bratislava. The journey was just over 2hrs long and amazing value at 24e for the both of us. Resident train expert,
however had got his trains mixed up and thought this was the 45min journey between Braitislava and Vienna but it wasn't, and on his 'must do' list was a meal in the dining car 🍴. So despite still rolling from breakfast we sat ourselves down. Andrew, somehow managed a pork and potatoes main meal 😮, whilst I struggled to get through some bread. But nevertheless it was a lovely atmosphere and comfortable ride. The staff were very helpful and allowed us to pay with all of our remaining Hungarian money and the rest in Euros. It worked out amazing value for money.
We soon arrived in Bratislava and made our way to navigate the trams to our hotel. One 15min journey cost 0.70e which proved perfectly adequate for the journey to the hotel. We soon found out that a 3.50e ticket covered us on everything for the duration of our visit.....bargain! We were booked to stay at the Danubia Gate which was about a 10 walk from the no 1 tram stop and the entrance to the old town. There were supermarkets and small cafes nearby too. We were welcomed with a glass of bubbly 🥂 which
proved very welcome after doing yet another battle with a telephone cold caller. It was still amazingly hot, so first 'job' was a shower and an afternoon siesta. Once we had suitably freshened up, the first port of call on our list was a trip to the UFO tower. This, apparently is the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world and renowned for its great views. I had done a bit of research prior and found that the restaurant menu wasn't really us which was a shame but still we were looking forward to the views. The cost to get in was less than 15e for both of us and we had an additional discount from the hotel so all good. Despite the heat, the walk to it was quite pleasant as it was mostly shaded as we walked across the river. Up on the observation deck the view was amazing and you could see clearly the castle and old town. We decided to try the cocktails up in the restaurant....we were on holiday after all. Sadly though the area was not air conditioned and 2 non alcoholic cocktails came up almost 18e! We definitely had a lucky escape where
the restaurant was concerned but nevertheless the actual tower was well worth it 😅
Dinner time was definitely calling by this point so we headed towards the old town. The old town had a lovely old fashioned feel to it with its cobbled streets and no cars. However it was also tourist heaven and the majority of services on offer were either tourist shops or restaurants. We soon found a restaurant that wasn't too busy...as it happens there was a reason for that, the food wasn't great and within a couple of hours we were in Mcdonalds snacking on a burger! 🍔
Then it was bedtime......which again thankfully was very comfy and this time there was a kettle ready for the next morning 😍
Breakfast, again was included in the rate and although not as good as Budapest, it was a decent enough spread. First job on the list was to go sandal shopping. My trusty sandals had bitten the dust in Budapest, and although my new shoes were very comfy it was definitely sandal weather .👡 . Luckily there was a Tesco near the hotel so I figured it would
be cheap enough not to worry if the 'new' sandals weren't suitable. So sandals bought with the aid of a stranger's discount clubcard and we went off to start the day. Bratislava wasn't like a typical capital city, it was very quiet with not much happening. Most of the things on the 'to do' list had already been achieved the previous day so again we went in search of a 'pretty list' which led us to a place called Trvava. This was a lovely quaint little town about 30 minutes out of Bratislava. The town was full of history and stunning architecture, not to mention ice cream bars so we spent a lovely afternoon strolling around 😍
Back in Bratislava, we still had the castle to do 🏰 . Since it was at the top of a big hill, lots of thought had to be given on how to get up there especially since the popular method was to walk up. Luckily after a nice dinner near the Palace we found a trolleybus to take us up 🚎 . Sadly by this point my new sandals were causing me some problems and blisters were definitely evident 😖
, but nevertheless a brave face was put on and we thoroughly enjoyed the views from the top of the castle before braving the walk back down to the old town. Thankfully down was much better than going up would have been. By the time we reached town and bought a couple of souvenirs, my feet were really sore so a bar was definitely in order. Luckily there was one near to where what seemed like a classic car show was going on .🚗 . So result all round....Andrew went to gawp at the cars whilst my feet recovered. Plasters however were still needed and the only option it seemed was a 24hr pharmacy around the corner. At 3.40e for a couple of plasters, it was hardly cheap but certainly worth every penny. Needless to say the 'new' sandals went straight in the bin!
The next day was market day which luckily was just over the road from the hotel. Despite high expectations it failed to deliver anything but Andrew had already been on the case researching model shops so guess where he headed next. I decided my best talents would be best spent packing up the
hotel room ready for our train to Vienna. Andrew of course came back gleaming clutching another engine 🤗 . It was then time for the train to Vienna 🚈 . Luckily we had already booked an open ticket which cost 28e for the pair of us which amazingly included a return ticket though we didn't need that. The train was comfortable and quick and we were soon in Vienna. At the time we didn't realise we could have got off at an earlier stop which would have been more convenient for our hotel, but then of course Andrew would have felt cheated for not doing the whole way so nothing lost. The main station was very big with lots to navigate. We decided on a trip to Burger King before trying to work out our way to the hotel. Feeling all refreshed and gaps filled we headed to the metro part of the station. Not wanting to mess around with tickets whilst we were there we decided to go for a 72hr Vienna ticket which worked out approx £30 for the 2 of us. It was actually the best move as Vienna is quite sprawling with lots to do and
the heat of course meant we didn't fancy walking much anyhow. We found the transport system to be excellent and very easy to use thankfully😅
Our hotel was the Courtyard by Marriatt and was situated away from the main thoroughfare on the U2 line. Because of our anniversary the hotel upgraded us to the 5th Floor where we enjoyed nice water views, a bathtub and most importantly a kettle! After a quick freshen up and unpacking we headed to the first port of call on our must do list - the Prater Ferris Wheel .🎡 . Constructed in 1897, its one of Vienna's top attractions and gives you great views across the city. Luckily it wasn't too busy and at a cost of 24e for the 2 of us, it was good value. It took about 15minutes to complete a circuit and we were lucky enough to stand next to the air conditioning vent. The views, as promised were amazing.❤️
Next we decided to head into the centre and find somewhere for dinner. The architecture that surrounded us was stunning as we walked through to the pedestrian area near St Stephen's Cathedral. The area,
however was extremely busy and sadly most of the restaurants we tried didn't have air conditioning. Eating outside was always a risk because of the high number of smokers around. It soon became clear that the answer was to get back on the metro and head out for a couple of stops. Near the Vienna Mitte Station we found a pizza place 🍕 that cooked your dishes right in front of you. Not too busy, air conditioned and good value so ticked all boxes. After an enjoyable meal it was time to find yet another 24hr pharmacy. Sadly the high temperatures had caused me to suffer with migraines every day and rather stupidly I didn't bring enough of my sumatriptan 💊 for that amount of usage. Luckily we found a pharmacy easily enough but the 17e price tag was infuriating...lesson learnt. Bed time...
We decided to have a lazy morning in the hotel and enjoy one of their breakfasts. Sadly it wasn't included in the rate and at 22e each, it wasn't cheap but we thought sod it. Breakfast, however didn't live up to expectations 😡 and certainly didn't warrant the high price tag but hey ho...another
lesson learnt. Next, on the list was a trip to the Vienna Central Cemetery . An amazing and vast place, totally immaculate. It took us a while to see the graves of Falco, Beethoven and Strauss amongst others. There was also a memorial to Mozart. It was very interesting, all of the gravestones were very elaborate and impressive, especially for their age.
A quick drink and a slice of chocolate cake at a nearby cafe had put Andrew in the mood for more chocolate 🍫 so we headed to the chocolate museum back in Prater. Sadly this was a disappointing place. At 30e for the 2 of us, it was more expensive than the Ferris Wheel but nowhere near as good. We were around it quickly and the lack of chocolate samples on offer was dismal and disappointing 😡
Continuing the Mozart theme we decided to head to his actual resting place which we discovered was in a place called St Marx Cemetery. This place was a vast contrast to Central Cemetery. Despite the similar age of the stones, these were overgrown and crumbling. The place had a very authentic and eerie feel to it. We
found Mozart's grave (or as close to it based on the evidence). It was probably the only grave in the cemetery that was looked after ❤️
Dinner time was now calling and we found a noodle place based in a food court of a local shopping centre. Excellent value and filled a gap quite nicely. 😋
We decided to spend the evening at another tower. The Danube Tower also known as the Donautrum is the tallest tower in Austria at 252meters and obviously provided excellent views across the city. It was a bit of a walk to reach it but was definitely worth it as the views were amazing in the evening light. Thankfully the journey back wasn't as taxing as we found a bus to connect us with the Ubahn so we were back at the hotel in no time.
The last day was our actual anniversary. In usual Andrew Wylde style, he had solved his lack of organisational skills by having Moonpig send a card directly to the hotel so big relief all round .❤️ . We had booked a table at the famous Cafe Central for an Anniversary brunch. The Cafe Central
building is certainly stunning but sadly the chaotic service and the food let it down rather. A service charge was automatically added to the bill but then they asked for another tip whilst paying...! Cheeky to say the least 😳
Since we were in the centre, on the must see/do list was a tram ride 🚃 on the 49 through Neubeu so off we went. I don't know whether it was the heat or something else, but it certainly wasn't very exciting sadly. The only plus on that route was a model shop called Ingrid's Second hand where of course Andrew was in his element and we came out with a variety of coaches etc 🤗 . This, of course meant the next sensible thing to do was back to the hotel to unload! We were wondering about the previous tram ride and wondered if we had made a mistake (unlikely!) so decided to try the Ring Tram as someone on Facebook had mentioned it. Sadly the price wasn't included in our current travel ticket but at 10e each it didn't seem bad value. Again we weren't bowled over by it, most things we had already seen and the
heat was very oppressive in the older style tram car even though the windows were open.
We were now down to our last few hours and still had a few things on our to do list list. Next stop the Palm House or Palmenhaus. The building from outside was certainly breathtaking and we were looking forward to seeing the butterflies and having ice cream in the cafe. So we paid our 6e each and in we went, only to be surrounded by what looked like a tropical rain forest, no signs of butterflies or a cafe for that matter. Having no interest in plants we were rather disappointed to say the least. The staff weren't very helpful when we explained our expectations. It actually turned out there are 2 Palmenhaus in Vienna and naturally we were at the wrong one...doh 😖 . Thankfully we did find an ice cream shop to take the edge off 🍦
Next on the list was the Mozart Statue...since we have done the cemetery, it was only fitting to find the statue which as you would expect was stunning and busy!
Food time - A friend had pointed
us towards a place called Salm Brau which thankfully was only a short tram ride from the Statue. The place was very busy but we managed to get a spot sitting outside. The service and food were pretty good but our usual nightmare occurred when people in the next table lit up! Time to go...😖
As we had a reasonably early flight in the morning, we decided that an early night was probably sensible so back to the hotel.
The taxi was booked to pick us up at 8am the next morning so we had decided that breakfast at the airport was a good plan. We had arrived by 8.30am for a 1115am flight, so plenty of time. The airport, however was very confusing. They don't do security until the boarding gate so we were left unsure of time and what we could buy etc. Nevertheless we did get breakfast and thankfully our Easyjet flight back to Edinburgh was uneventful!
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