I can't remember the last time I flew from Gatwick but my gad, it was a trek and a half from the station. Every time I thought we were there, my sister said, 'you know, we are still in the train station'. For me it was long. I have been too used to just getting trains when travelling or just a car ride to Heathrow. Anyway, when we finally got to the airport, I was getting excited.
Slightly uncomfortable in the plane, small cramped seats are great, even though the journey was 2 hours. We were picked up from the airport in Budapest by the guy whose flat we were staying in. We were ever so grateful, especially as the airport turned out to be quite while away from the city.
The flat was perfect. It had everything we needed and was situated in a district that had most of the places we had been recommended. Our flat was in a sort of complex, our front door was actually a shop on the first floor and then we had several other doors to get through to our flat on the second floor. My sister became the key master for the trip.
Since we arrived in the late afternoon, we didn't have much time to explore the city. Usually we arrive at the accommodation early in the morning and look round but this time we were at a disadvantage. We ventured along the main road near to the flat, bought a few provisions then a little later went out looking for a drink. Not far from where were were in (can't spell or pronounce area) we walked along a road filled with bars, clubs and cafes. El Rapido, a little bar underneath a burrito shop. Two guys were performing some blue grass music, complete with harmonica (and sang all in English). We enjoyed some Hungarian beer, Arany Aszok, two half litres each, which we worked out as roughly £1.50 a glass, super cheap and super delicious. After the beer, my sister sampled a burrito, of course.
The next day we planned to start our early, we didn't. We had a small breakfast and set out for one of the oldest coffee houses in Budapest, The Gerbeaud Cafe. Luckily our waiter spoke excellent English and we order some coffee and ice cream sundaes. Both were amazing, as you can see.
After stuffing our faces with delicious sweet things, we walked it off by making our way to the river. We had amazing sunny hot weather and the Danube River looked so beautiful in the sun. We tried our best to avoid all the people trying to coask tourists on their tour buses and out run a heard of of other tourists across the Chain Bridge, said to be the best bridge on the river. We were making our way to Buda, the side of the city that had the Buda castle or as we later found out, the castle district. Feeling lazy in the hot sun and being turned away when trying to walk up the hill, I convinced my sister to take a ride up in the funicular. It was a short ride but i was very excited, then terrified of the heigh at the top.
We both noticed that there were endless statues everywhere in the city, whether it was Buda or Pest. There was a particular statue of what I eventually concluded was an eagle near to the gates of the gigantic beautiful building on the hill top. We also got to witness the changing of the guard of the building opposite, an added bonus to the trip up that hill.
We admired the view for a long while at the top, it was amazing and dare I say it, breathtaking. I pestered my sister to go inside what we still thought the castle was, but it had Hungarian Art Gallery outside. We asked a very helpful woman inside about the castle and she told us that the castle no longer existed and hadn't for many years. Fantastic. She looked quite sad that we asked about the castle Labyrinth instead of seeing the art, although I would have liked to have a look around.
We walked past a few more amazing statues and up the hill and around the streets. We found a small sign that simply said 'Labyrinth' but in Hungarian and a few feet along, a doorway with steps leading down into a dark cave like area. It was very dark down there. On the walls, there were various well lit photographs of the labyrinth and a description of the place. We went in, my sister intrigued, me, already terrified. I was right to be. The tunnel were dark, barely any light except when we came across the next scene from the opera that was being depicted with wax models, costumes and opera music. After a while the opera stopped and was replaced with history and darker tunnels. At one point on the maps provided in the walls, there was no indication as to where we were. We stumbled on until we could hear opera music again and followed it. We went through a slighting flooded area, dripping ceiling until we found a room with a project of another opera and a few chairs, then we (I) dashed outside and climbed the steps to freedom.
After being terrified, we were still exhausted. We walked back down the hill to the bridge and walked towards food. In fact we decided to walk to the Great Market Hall along the river, mostly because we didn't see any point getting a tram and because we thought it wouldn't be that far. Roughly 30 minutes later we reached the market, an impressive hall, an indoor food market, and I was starving by this point. I gobbled down something and my sister had some delicious looking mini scones.
There were also a lot of stalls selling chilli related food products, as well as various ways to buy chilli. I didn't know this but the Hungarian chilli is their speciality, as well as their goulash dish.
After walking for felt like months, we gave in and got a tram and metro train back to our flat, where I literally collapsed and fell asleep.
I wasn't too tired to go out for dinner and drinks though. Later we ventured back out to a restaurant that had been recommended to us. Menza, decorated in 70's patterns and next to the 'tourist trap' area. We edged past all the dire bars and restaurants, including a Hooters filled with men shouting, and made it to safety and damn fine food. I enjoyed a cocktails and we both had wine. It was relaxing and I liked the fact the place was close to our flat. I think best part of that meal was definitely the beetroot risotto.
Although a very tiring day of walking and eating, it was a great first full day in the city.
#trip #holiday #citybreak #budapest #Hungary #coffee #cake #Menza