I’m enjoying Budapest. Slept well and started the day with a very large full breakfast which is included in the room rate. Usually on the Continent the breakfast is just that – Continental. But they also do cooked breakfast here. So I had both. Fried eggs, bacon, toast, mini pain-au-chocolats, pain-au-raisins, bread rolls, etc.
It was as well to stock up on a full breakfast because it sure is cold out there. We headed to Castle Hill on which the palace sits, plus the really old part of the city. We were going to get a tram or tube but ended up walking as it’s really not that far and is actually quite a pleasant walk.
Budapest is actually the name of two places. Buda and Pest. Buda is the hillier part of the city where the castle and old town are, on the western bank of the Danube. Pest is bigger, about 2/3rs of the total city, on the eastern bank. This is also flatter. We’re staying in Pest.
This photo shows the Pest embankment, taken from a bridge, as we walked over to Buda. The big gothic structure is the parliament building.
Having walked across the Danube (very wide, wider than the Thames!) we took the uphill mini-railway to the palace at the top. Just as we arrived the changing of the guard was taking place:
From the top there were great views out over Pest. It was very cold up here. The whole day has been cold. Temperature wise it was just above freezing, but a very cold breeze blows off the Danube that goes right through you.
After walking around the perimeter of the palace (which is now the National Gallery) we came across some stalls selling tourist stuff. We both bought a hat as I had left mine at the hotel (the one with CANADA inconspicuously written across it in bright red alongside a maple leaf). S bought a normal black woollen hat, I bought one of those snowboarder type ones that cover the ears (and it does an extremely good job of keeping both head and ears warm – much needed in this weather).
We then wandered around the old town which is a UNESCO world heritage zone and very beautiful.
We found a small cafe to have lunch. You couldn’t see in until you’d opened the door and it was very small. Only when we were in and starting to sit down did we realise the small joint was also playing host to an Italian family group of 14 people in there having lunch. Noise aside, we decided to stay there and take the weight off our feet and warm up.
In the afternoon we headed to city park in Pest that has follies and castles and wotnot built within it. It was quite beautiful especially as the sun was out. The lake was drained but the whole park is very pleasant and we liked what we saw.
The above is quite a condensed version of the day as I’ve been out for dinner (and broken my 9 day alcohol amnesty). Well, we went to a beer cellar specialising in food. Not drinking would have been sacrilege and disrespectful to the establishment was my thinking.
On returning to the hotel from the park late afternoon, we decided to hit the sauna which is free to use. I’d brought swimming trunks (the tight fitting kind as imagine that those will be the type stipulated when we get to the spa baths, probably tomorrow). So we headed down to the sauna, changed into trunks and then headed into the sauna itself. Bear in mind this is a unisex sauna and that the hotel has international guests from all over staying here.
Well. On opening the sauna door I was met with something that momentarily threw me off balance. A young-ish (I think German or Austrian) couple, stark naked, lying on the sauna ledges. The manifestation of a fr*nt-b*tt*m in such close and unsolicited quarters was jarring but the shock did thankfully pass. Meat and two veg I’m at ease with, I might add. This couple looked fractionally perturbed that their Adam and Eve paradise had been interrupted, but settled back down. Eve then left to head to the shower room next door but Adam stayed on quite a while. I don’t massively mind same sex nudity but not overly fond of unisex nudity quite frankly, prudish as that sounds. Oh well. We’re on the Continent, you have to expect such things. And after Adam had left, S turned round to me and said “did you see the melons on her?” to which I said “WHATT????????????” This guy is not meant to have any interest in women, voluptuous though the woman may have been. Without his glasses on, however, he said that’s all he could see….
Anyway. I’ve taken a lot more pictures but after a HUGE dinner – Hungarian goulash soup for starter, then roast pork ‘Czech’ style (with dumplings and sauerkraut) followed by chestnut filled pancakes covered in chocolate sauce and cream washed down with the beer cellar’s own beer (2 pints worth), I’m fit for nothing but bed now. I have taken a lot more pictures and hope to post them in due course.