Beautiful Budapest and the Blue Danube

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September 28th 2007
Published: April 7th 2008
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Day 8: Friday 28 September 2007

Beautiful Budapest and the Blue Danube

Wake up 6am bags and Breaky 6:30am Leave 7:30am

We headed off for Budapest this morning!! It began pouring rain. Perfect timing. At one point we had to make a detour for roadworks. There was only one sign then nothing. We ended up on a country road through some quaint towns. This was great as we didn’t have to look at highways. There were lots of interesting little towns to drive through.
We stopped for morning tea at a Maccas. FREE clean toilets. Even though they had neon lighting and were playing Kylie Minogue. Felt wrong. 
Apparently the other local ones were only a hole in the ground, so needless to say we all went here.
We moved over the Slovakian border. They didn’t want to see our passports. We were all desperate to use the loo - so we used the truckie stop. This is where our tissue paper came in handy!
We arrived in Budapest at 1:30pm and had a short orientation. The column with the lion was to celebrate the beginnings of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
The town was very pretty with it’s colourful buildings and not busy like Prague.
We walked around and had a look at the stalls. I bought a Christmas bell for my ornament.
There were some village ladies sitting there talking wearing traditional costume.
It was hard to find something to eat here. The cafes were all advertising big meals or the menus were not in English. We walked down a quieter street and came across a Wenceslas festival. There was some sort of celebration taking place.there was much singing, stalls and beer.
We found some others sitting at a pub called “Slang Pub” and it looked nice. The menu was in English and sounded nice and cheap!
I ordered baked potatoes with cream sauce and bacon. A MASSIVE plate with about 4 potatoes came out. VERY yum. Rob had a spinach pancake. While we were sitting there sipping our drinks, a big thunderstorm blew over. The rain came teaming down,but we were under an awning. It was pleasant sitting there watching the rain and feeling happy. The yellow leaves were blowing down the esplanade. The storm blew over as quickly as it came. Children were out in the streets collecting and throwing chestnuts.
This was a lovely little town just to sit back and relax in.
We met Gary at 3pm and walked along the Blue Danube.
We reached the Hungarian border at 4 and had to wait while all our passports were stamped and checked. When we came closer to Budapest - about 12km out, we hit traffic congestion. It took us forever to get into the city. The signs were all Very foreign. Like nothing we’d seen yet. They almost looked Arabic. We had fun trying to guess what they were actually advertising.
So far, Hungary looked very poor and you could really see the effects of communism. I think some people were a bit concerned about what we were in for at this point.
Gary had warned us that while many people are looking to Prague being the highlight, they are gobsmacked by Budapest.
When we crossed the Bridge, the coach was filled with oohs and ahhs as we caught our first glimpse of the Beautiful Danube and parliament building. We knew we were in for a treat.

Eventually we made it to our hotel, the Hilton West End. It was VERY nice and spacious with all the amenities. We only had about an hour to get ready before our optional cruise on the Danube. I was really looking forward to this.
Dora was our local guide. She was fantastic and had a great sense of humour. She taught us how to toast in Hungarian “Eggie” for short. She taught us how to say “You’re a cat” and “You’re an apple” phonetically. We had fun with that all night.
When we arrived at the pier, we hopped onto what we thought was our boat. Nope - we had to walk through it to the next one - nope - not it either. Shame, because they looked glorious. The third boat was ours and the spread was to die for! The set up was very impressive. Every table had a selection of wines and soft drinks on it. We had a welcome glass of champagne (and every body elses. ) and started eating.
The buffet was traditionally Hungarian and WONDERFUL. This was my favourite meal of the whole trip.
There was plenty of cold food that I promptly ignored. The cabbage rolls were to die for. I’m so glad I tried them! I smothered them in sour cream and went back again and again. There was sausage goulash and paprika chicken with very tiny potato dumplings. Both were spectacular. The paprika is very strong here.
The fruit platter was impressive.
As we turned to cruise back down the river, we braved the cold and went to the top deck to watch. The view was spectacular. The illuminations were mesmerising. The statue on top of the hill of the woman with the Olive branch was amazingly beautiful. Her role is to oversee Budapest. It was a glorious night out. Everyone was relaxed and just in awe of the view. The downside was, it made our later trip to the Seine, very anti climatic
Back at the hotel, we continued our evening and had after dinner drinks in the bar with a group. The barman was Irish and made a mean Irish coffee.


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