So, carrying on with my Eastern European exploration, I booked a weekend trip to Budapest!
Well, once again I was totally bowled over by such a beautiful city!
I happened to book the one weekend where flights were being cancelled due to the snowy conditions here in the UK, so it was touch and go whether I was going to Budapest or not! I’d even cancelled my hotel booking using the free cancellation option with www.booking.com, and literally re-booked the same hotel at the boarding gate as we were about to take off, and which also turned out to be an inadvertent stroke of luck, as the same room for the same weekend was £100 cheaper than my original booking!
I’d also once again arranged return transfers from the airport with www.hoppa.com who were waiting at arrivals. These worked out at €42 return, whereas a one way taxi from the airport was around €30.
Hoppa.com also sent me a reminder text for my collection back from the hotel to the airport, with the driver arriving on time to collect me, so once again very good service!
45mins later after being collected from the airport, I arrived at the Bohem Art Hotel which is situated in the Pest side, as that’s where I’d chosen to stay. It was a lovely hotel very close to the Liberty Bridge, minutes from the River Danube and the Great Market.
After checking in, I decided to go wandering to get my bearings and ended up at the Great Market Hall which was full of fresh produce stalls, souvenir stalls and food stalls, where I ended up eating my first ever Langos. A thick doughy type of thing with fresh toppings of your choice almost pizza like. It was incredibly filling! After a quick wander around the market, I then decided on a Big Bus Hop on Hop off tour which was situated right outside the Great Market Hall. This was definitely worth doing, as it takes you around the whole of the city in about 1hour 40mins. I bought the 48hour pass for €20 which was sufficient and which also included unlimited riverboat cruises !
Budapest unlike Prague is vastly spread out, it’s a much bigger city and as there’s more to see and experience here, you definitely need at least a good four days as opposed to my usual whistle-stop 72 hours!
I did get to see everything on the bus tour I.E. The worlds second largest Synagogue, Hősök tere with its Statue of the Archangel Gabriel, The Budapest Zoo, Botanical gardens, the Ice skating park, Széchenyi thermal baths, and the many museums including the Terror museum. Also, the famous Chain Bridge, Elizabeth Bridge, Margaret Bridge and Margaret Island, and of course the Famous New York Cafe! Plus when the bus crosses over the River Danube you get to see The famous Buda Castle, and Fisherman’s Bastion.
I also took advantage of the pass and found time to see the lovely riverside sights on a daytime river tour up and down the Danube, and decided on returning later on that evening (Friday) to do the night sight seeing tour on the bus so I could then plan do the evening river boat tour for the following night (Saturday.) That was pretty stunning and spectacular, especially the Hungarian Parliament!
After the friday night bus tour, as it was snowing heavily and temperature was around -5, unfortunately I wasn’t able to wander around much and look for much to do in regards to nightlife but ended up quite by chance at the Ruins Bars. These are bars that have been built in the ruins of abandoned buildings in Budapest’s old district (The Jewish Quarter) and are actually really cool, filled with quite a few stag do’s, eclectic pieces of furniture and decorative items and all totally different! After that incredibly hip experience, I headed back to my hotel. Thank goodness for google maps!
The next morning I went down for breakfast and encountered one of the most outstanding “Sparkling” breakfast selections I have ever had, outside of Dubai and Las Vegas, and I certainly did it full justice!
After stuffing my face, once again I headed off to have a wander around The Great Market for some souvenirs as it’s closed on Sunday, before catching the hop on hop off bus to go to explore the Buda side of the river and Buda Castle. They have a mini tramline (Funiculur) that takes you up to the castle and from where you usually have great views of Budapest, unfortunately for me it was snowing again and very cloudy.
After all that, I headed back to the River Danube for my evening river boat tour that was so beautiful! The architectural delights of Budapest all lit up along the river was stunning! I totally recommend that boat tour which was again included in the pass through the Big Bus company!
After that to warm up I headed to a local restaurant called Szazeves Etterem, this had been highly recommended to me and once seated I ended up being serenaded by a trio of live musicians! The food was good apparently, but as I’m a newly converted vegetarian, I ended up with just a bowl of mushroom soup, which was nice enough I guess, but no bread to accompany it unfortunately. So I left a bit hungry!
After that I wandered upto and spent the rest of my evening in the Budapest Icebar (as obviously I hadn’t experienced enough snow and ice already!)
As a solo female traveller I felt totally safe walking around on my own everywhere, even walking back to my hotel at night. I’m not sure how much the extremely cold weather had to do with the factor but apart from tourists, there were hardly any locals, or homeless people or beggars around.
Unfortunately on this trip I didn’t manage to get time to go to any of the Thermal Spas so it will give me an excuse (not that I need much of an excuse) to book another trip back to Budapest, as there was so much that I didn’t get to see, due to time constraints and bad weather!
Budapest is certainly lovely, but Prague is still my favourite so far!
The next trip in a few weeks is FINALLY going somewhere warm, Crete and Athens!
Soooooooooo watch this space!