Friday, 1 December 2017

Budapest travel blog - September 2017

What with moving house and getting Barney, we hadn't been abroad for three years. We also hadn't been apart from Barney since we got him fifteen months earlier (I know!), so a trip away was long overdue. We managed to find a willing volunteer to look after him for a long weekend and thought we should take the opportunity to get away. We considered various options but settled on Budapest. We'd enjoyed our time in Prague, and hoped Budapest would have a similar feel to it.

We flew out of Heathrow, which was surprisingly easy to get to now that we live in Wiltshire, even if the M4 was a bit sticky. It was a late flight and so not full, so we spread out and took over three seats for a bit more space. I'm not a keen at flying but it went well and we landed before my boredom had got too extreme. I'd booked airport transfers in advance so we headed through to arrivals and were met and handed over to our taxi driver when he arrived. The journey to our hotel took about half an hour, after check in we were glad to get to our room as it was the early hours of the morning due to the late timing of the flight.

When we got up the next morning it was a bit of a miserable looking day. We headed down for breakfast to set us up for the day and then headed out. We thought a rainy day would be a good day to spend on indoor sightseeing and so started off heading for the Great Synagogue. It's the largest synagogue in Europe and interesting as it's not set out in the usual Jewish style. It was sobering and fascinating, well worth a visit.
Great Synagogue, Dohany Street
Great Synagogue, Dohany Street
Great Synagogue, Dohany Street
Emmanuel Tree memorial, Great Synagogue
We then headed to St Stephen's Basilica, stopping for street food on the way. St Stephen's is the largest church in Budapest and is dedicated to Hungary's first king, St Stephen. It is home to Hungary's most sacred (and most bizarre?) treasure, St Stephen's mummified right hand. 
St Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen's Basilica, christening in progress
A bit of an odd relic, the mummified holy right hand of St Stephen
We headed back to our hotel afterwards to drop off our cameras and to decide on somewhere to eat, after a bit of Googling, we settled on the Tuning Bar and Burger. We were both tired after our late night and just wanted good, easy food. This was a great choice, the food was excellent and service prompt. We headed back to the hotel afterwards happy and full.

The next day we got up and were pleased to see blue skies when we drew back the curtains. We had a quick breakfast and then headed off for a full day of sightseeing. We walked down to the riverside and then up to the Chain Bridge before walking over. 
Chain Bridge
Buda Castle from the Chain Bridge
Once over the Chain Bridge we headed to the funicular railway and took this up to Buda Castle. 
Funicular railway
Looking back over Chain Bridge from Buda Castle
We had a walk along the frontage of Buda Castle and took in the sights looking over the river. From here we walked through the streets to Matthias Church. It was much smaller than St Stephen's Basilica, but just as impressive in a different way.
Matthias Church
Matthias Church
Matthias Church
After visiting the church we crossed the courtyard to Fisherman's Bastion, a viewing platform looking over Pest. 
Fisherman's Bastion
View of Matthias Church from Fisherman's Bastion
From here we headed back down to the riverside and walked up towards Margaret Bridge. On the way we stopped to take in the view of the Parliament Building across the Danube.
Parliament Building
By this time our legs were starting to feel like we should be heading towards the hotel, so we stopped off at Margaret Island for a late lunch and to rest our feet with a stop to watch the dancing fountains.
Stunning fountains on Margaret Island
After a break we crossed back to Pest over Margaret Bridge and headed back down the riverside, passing the Parliament building and Shoes on the Danube, a memorial to the thousands executed on the riverbank.
Shoes on the Danube
We found ourselves heading back towards St Stephen's Basilica and decided to stop for an early evening meal in the square outside. The food was good and the view spectacular.
We woke on our final day to another grey day but had half a day to fill before we had to head home. We packed and left our suitcases in the luggage room and then headed out. We walked over to City Park, which was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. There was a protest camp and renovation work underway. It all looked a bit rundown and tired. We headed through the park to Heroes' Square, which was more what we expected.
Heroes' Square
Once we'd visited Heroes' Square we headed back to the hotel to collect our bags and wait for our taxi. We were back at the airport in about half an hour and then had a painful wait due to our flight being delayed. Again, we had a row to ourselves on the flight home, the views over London were spectacular, we circled around and saw the O2, the London Eye and Tower Bridge, a perfect sightseeing end to our holiday.
London at dusk
My Fitbit told me that I'd walked 36 kilometres over the three days on holiday, so I was happy to do my final bit of sightseeing from my seat. Budapest was a really interesting city to visit; I'd been anxious before I went that I didn't speak any Hungarian, but everyone we met was friendly and spoke good English so I needn't have worried. I think our choice of city for a long weekend was perfect, we got to see everything we wanted to, but without feeling like it was a rush. Perfect.