Beautiful Budapest

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August 7th 2015
Published: August 7th 2015
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NOTE: This Blog has been amended as I now have the contact details of the person who found my phone. He went a very strange way about it, but it can be retrieved!

Thursday 6 August:

A famous and infamous day in history today. The 50th anniversary of LBJ signing the Voting Rights Act into law and, of course, the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Nothing quite so momentous for us though as we were up just after 7. Breakfast and showers and then time to start getting ready to move on. Zachary and I took the new suitcase and his backpack downstairs and the handle of the new case broke off. This caused me to drop it of course and one of the feet broke off too! Anyway we headed back towards the port – on the way there on Tuesday we had passed a big play area. There was a Metro stop at the place with the same name but I didn’t know where they were in relation to each other. I didn’t have a map for there and of course, this was the morning I was having major trouble getting online so I couldn’t look it up. We got off the Metro and had a walk around but couldn’t find it. We ended up finding a grassy spot by the football stadium that hosts Olympiakos which was near the water and we finished off the bubble mixture. We headed back to the hotel to meet Heather around 1215. We tried to catch a tram to do this but they run infrequently so it didn’t work out. Public transport in Athens needs a boost for sure, but I guess the money isn’t there. Meanwhile Heather had finished stuffing the packs, dropped them off downstairs, and headed for the National Archaeological Museum which she enjoyed.

We made the transfer to the Airport Metro. Once again, there were buskers on the train, and once again they were children. A local lady told Heather that often these kids don’t go to school and their parents send them out to busk to earn money for the house. Times are tough indeed.

It would have been good to have seen a bit more of the city, especially the ancient ruins and associated museums. There were a lot of interesting places we didn’t get anywhere near. But we are all tired (especially Z) and a bit over the heat.

We printed our boarding passes and headed for baggage drop off. We were re-directed to a special line for families. This is a good service by Aegean Airways. We were concerned about the exposed screw on the bottom of the case after the foot broke and asked if it could be hammered in. The lady told us to go to the special baggage drop off with it. We did and showed it to the man on duty and he showed no interest in it whatsoever. We made it clear that we had shown him and if someone got hurt or some equipment got damaged from it then it was on his head!

We had to have lunch and time was running short so we managed to wolf something down before heading to security and the gate. Security was slow and the gate was actually directly below us but to get there you had to walk quite a distance to nearly the end of the terminal, go down some stairs, and walk back again. Pointless and stupid. We arrived at our gate about 25 minutes before we were due to take off to find a line going nowhere fast. One busload had already gone to the plane on the tarmac, and we were waiting for it to come back or another one to arrive… So 5 minutes before we were due to take off we got to the plane. To give them some credit they at least boarded from both back and front doors so that sped it up a bit. Somehow we got away only 20 minutes late.

Not a great start I thought for the airline voted Best Regional Carrier the last 2 years. Service was a bit slow to get underway and while we did get a decent meal by the time it came for tea and coffee we were descending, I think the first few rows got some but most of the plane missed out (including us).

Things improved in Budapest. It was a bit of a round-about walk to get baggage (nice airport by the way) but by the time we were there so were our bags. There was no security control at all so it was straight out and our booked transfer to the hotel was standing there with our name. So not too long after landing we were on our way.

We got to our accommodation which is very central in the Pest side of the city (the city has two parts, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube). We have an apartment in a condominium complex. It isn’t flash to look at, but the apartment is pretty spacious. We have a huge combined lounge / dining / sleeping area plus a bathroom (with washing machine). It has a fan which will hopefully do enough to keep us cool as it is unusually hot at the moment.

We had a look at some tour / activity options and went to change some money. The local currency here is the forint (HUF) and the rate is about €1 = 300 HUF. This means you are dealing with big numbers. €250 got me 77,000 HUF! We have a Burger King just down the road so we went there. As we suspected from looking at the tours / activities and also noting the petrol and taxi prices, this is a cheap place to visit. Our dinner (combos for us, kids meal for Z) was 3400 HUF – about €11 or $NZ17. Compare that to Zurich or Copenhagen …

We also did some grocery shopping – again ridiculously cheap. I went back to get drinks separately. Bottles of beer are the about $NZ1.25. All other booze as well as water and milk also very cheap. Meat, bread, and other necessities also super-cheap. Great for tourists! We have excellent cooking facilities at the apartment and we will use them as we need some more “normal” food. Ironic though that, in a place where eating out is dirt cheap and western food is the norm, we have good cooking facilities.

A HUGE battle getting Zachary to bed tonight so not sure what sort of state he’ll be in tomorrow. He was very contrary from the moment he got off the plane (he slept the whole flight). Maybe they have a shop here that sells functioning ears. We will investigate the Big Bus as it is incudes a river cruise and you can buy a combo ticket with Aqua World which is a huge indoor water theme park with 11 slides and 17 pools – may of then especially for kids! Looks like a fun way to spend at least half a day. We’ll suss out some more things to do over the next 4 days and then it really is winding down to go back to NZ.

Oh, and I know it isn’t at all nice to laugh at other people’s misfortune but I checked the Ashes score online and Aussie 60 all out, sorry but hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Friday 7 August:

Despite his very late night Zachary was up just after 6 this morning and was NOT going back to sleep. We had breakfast and then Heather battled with the washing machine. She had it on overnight and the towels in there were sopping wet with undissolved washing powder. After multiple attempts to get it to do what it is supposed to she went to reception to ask them to have someone come and have a look. She was assured they would be there in “a few minutes”.

While we were waiting we finished getting ready to go out. 20 plus minutes having now passed we gave up and headed out. We stopped to let them know and were told the handyman had just left to go to our room.

We headed for a bus stop to catch a “Big Bus” – a hop-on hop-off tour (same company as Istanbul) that looked pretty good. A two day ticket is €25 for adults and includes a hop-on hop-off boat and also one evening river cruise. We got front row seats upstairs and headed off. Budapest is full of beautiful buildings and historic sites. We crossed the mighty Danube via the Elisabeth Bridge to the Buda side and went up the hill to the Citadel and Freedom Monument. We got off here and looked around, admiring the views. The Citadel has an interesting history – built by the Austrians and then used by the Nazis as a base during the occupation of WW2 and then by the Soviets as base to crush the 1956 revolution. We got back on and the next stop was the large indoor market. This is quite interesting but the bottom floor is all food and the top all clothes and souvenirs. However we did manage to have our lunch, buy another pirate tee shirt, buy a gift, and get some blackberries. Our next stop was the funicular at the bottom of the castle area. We got off only to discover a long queue for the funicular. We didn’t fancy standing for half an hour or more in the direct sun (temperature 35 in the shade so add some more for the sun) so went for a walk along the adjacent Chain Bridge instead. Buses are supposed to go every 20 minutes so we times our arrival back to the bus stop so we would wait only 5 but there was some sort of hold up and we waited at least 15! The bus went up to the castle area so we got off there. We got Zachary another pair of sunglasses as the ones we bought him in Athens broke after a day! We had a look around and saw another Changing of the Guards. We thought about going to Buda Castle where there is an underground labyrinth but, as we wanted to do the evening cruise, and Zachary needed a sleep, we decided to try and do this tomorrow. We went down some stairs so Heather and Zachary could do a toilet stop. While I was looking after our gear I put everything down and re-organised bags and pockets. We then went back up the stairs where we were now at the top of the funicular. As there was no queue we decided to go down this way and get the bus again at the bottom. We got our tickets and got in when I realised my fairly new phone was not in my pocket. A quick check established it wasn’t in either bag so we got out before it left. We explained the situation to the lady in charge and no problem. She let me out of the area and I went back down to where I had been standing. Alas, no phone and nobody had handed it in at the desk by the toilets, the café, or the tourist info stand.

We went down the funicular and got on the next bus. We got off at a point that was about a 10 – 15 walk from the hotel and headed back (discovering a playground near the hotel which may come in handy). We arrived back to see the handyman had indeed been. Our towels were in the sink and an “Out of Order” notice was stuck on the machine. Zachary went to lie down but could / would not fall asleep. He had been told he had to have a sleep if we were to go on the cruise so we decided not to go. We can still go tomorrow evening. Heather headed over to reception to find out what was happening with the washing. They said we could take it to them and they would wash it and housekeeping would hang it on our drying rack so we’ll do what we have to do. She had no credit on her phone so tried calling mine from reception to see if someone would answer and we could get it back. But it went straight to voicemail so whoever found it has taken my sim card out or turned it off. However he then called my mother to say he had it. Unusual way of going about it but I'll get it back (I would have handed it in or just waited for the owner to call it...)

After a very good local malt beer I started dinner and went to the supermarket while Heather finished it off. Lots of pots but some more helpful utensils would be handy. Then a nice simple home cooked dinner with plenty of veges, followed by some ice cream and bed for Zachary. Again a battle getting to sleep. He should be exhausted! But we all slept badly last night and I can only blame the unrelenting heat. We have now had 25 consecutive days of temperatures of 32 degrees or more, with the last 9 being 36 – 38. It is fair to say we wouldn’t mind some cooler temps but I see Munich, our next stop, is having the same and Darmstadt had 39!

So tomorrow we’ll hopefully do the labyrinth, do a day-time Danube cruise and maybe an evening one too. Sunday perhaps we’ll try to look for some indoor things and do AquaWorld on Monday.

The 4th cricket test is nearly all over as I write and England are getting the Ashes back. Well done them and a nice way for my very favourite Australian (Tui billboard alert) Michael Clarke to finish his career.

Finally here's a link to an amusing and clever summary of the Greek Financial Crisis (thanks to Astrid for this):


8th August 2015

Heat and sleet
Hi Ed Sounds too hot where you guys are ! NZ is once again experiencing extreme weather and lots of roads are closed in the South Island. Tough I imagine with Zachary not sleeping that well and the parentals following suit. Lots to sort out on your holiday eh. ( Settling back into NZ should be interesting ) Been watching lots of Rugby today..nephew in the morning at Ngatea, HBHS 1st xv in the afternoon and the ABs tonight. I reckon Sonny Bill is going to hammer Giteau. Richie is going to equal Odriscolls test caps as captain as well. Steve
8th August 2015

Heat and More Heat!
I generally enjoy the heat, but too much of a good thing at the moment. I spotted on the news about the latest cold snap. Should be starting to warm up a little bit when we get back but will be a shock to the system!

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