Tuesday, May 26, 2015

when in... budapest

rushes over you the beautiful blue Danube. Back on a train, back, even slavishly, to the blog. But it’s with real hesitation I keep returning to the blog because a few days more and then back to the not-so-dreaded reality of not travelling for three weeks straight. Because while the travels have been exceeding expectations in almost everywhere, as I love to say, travel is exhausting. And it is taking the toll on my body. All good things have a price I guess.

In Budapest, prices were wacko because of inflation and their own currency. It was a liberating feeling taking out 19,000 Hungarian Ft from the ATM (the equivalent of about 60 dollars). I really did feel rich even if it was only with basic monopoly money with guys with big mustaches on it.

Pat and I had quite the introduction to Budapest because we (along with a gaggle of other tourists) were dumped off at this random “station.” It was actually more of a platform in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain. It looked like we had just crossed the Iron Curtain and good luck to us. But, a hop on the metro, a weird bus, and a little walk, and soon (without TOO much travail we came upon the airbnb which was beautiful and very centrally located. I wish I could give you the name of the park we were situated on or the major avenue we were directly off of—but Hungarian is a super hard language and basically we made up the names for everywhere we went.

So day one, we get in the apartment, glad to see that Budapest wasn’t still a soviet country and actually was quite beautiful. And then the sun came out, so in excitement, we went out and about and started wandering. We peeked in the beautiful opera house—gorgeous. We stopped in this little museum all about Budapest during Communism complete with tiny scale models of the city with explanations. It was cute but it was like the biggest train display I’ve seen in my life. But really cool. We went to St. Stephen’s—there were TWO weddings going on there so we didn’t get to see his right hand which is there--- but then again, maybe that’s something I don’t really HAVE to see. Then we get to the river and WOW just stunning. The city is situation of actually two cities- Buda and Pest- and on both sides it’s a sea of colors and trees and gorgeous architecture, just amazing.

So, we cross the famous Chain Bridge and we decided to climb this hill which at the time I thought was the Citadel but turned out to be Castle Hill which was still amazing. The ruins of an old castle, a little part of town, a Hapsburg Palace, and really the most stunning view. Just taking in the view was worth it.

From there we finally worked our way down to din. And really nothing prepared me for the heavy meatiness of all Hungarian food. It’s like just chunks of meat and maybe potatoes with paprika and more meat. Good- but just these huge portions and SO much meat. Needless to say, I’ve been craving a good salad.

On Sunday, it was gorgeous weather. Just beautiful. So, we went to St Stephen’s for church (don’t ask me what they said, zoned out big time in Hungarian) and then since the day was so beautiful decided to go the famous thermal baths of Budapest. Which in hindsight may not have been the most carpe diem thing to do in the beautiful weather but we really wanted to go the baths. So we found a beautiful art deco bath and we went and it was great. The waters were so amazing and relaxing and the building was just beautiful. It was hard to believe it was built for pools, but it was.

Yesterday, we started the day with a free walking tour of Budapest which was really great and informative (I learned a lot even if we probably should have gone on day one, but cest la vie) and that took up some time. So then we got some lunch at a little place, relaxed and then headed to the Parliament for a tour. Initially we wanted to go to the Hungarian National museum but I always forget that museums are usually closed on Mondays. Turns out, going to the Parliament wasn’t just our idea because when we got to the visitor center of this just gorgeous building  ,they were all sold out of tickets. Drat.

But, instead we decided to walk to Margaret Island where we sat (I actually took a brief nap) and watched this amazing magic fountain that had this great music with coordinated water effects. The song choice was a little random at times but hey- it worked and I enjoyed it tremendously. Margt Island also has ruins—the ruins of the Dominican Convent where St Margaret lived (apparently she was so caste she wouldn’t bathe in more water than up to her ankles for fear of showing too much skin—forget the fear of BO, right?)

But after climbing all over the ruins- my fav thing to do with ruins- we had to bop back because were ending the Budapst trip in style with a luxurious dinner buffet about a river cruise with stunning views of Budapest while a folk orchestra serenaded the people. Really it was quite deluxe.

And now, flurried packing, restless sleep, early train later, I’m back on a train, feeling the snoozes come and ready for Salzburg. 

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