Versiunea în română aici.
I thought I should start a series of trip reports from Central Europe with some pictures from a city-break in Budapest on December 1st (which is the Romanian National Day, making the date a bit ironic if you are a Romanian). There aren’t too many pictures because my camera passed away while being there.
Since WizzAir stopped serving the OTP-BUD trip, airline prices went up, so we decided to go by car. The trip takes about 11-12 hours unless you catch some big queue at the border crossing. We left at about 3 a.m. on fog and we arrived in a sunny Budapest, just in time to catch the afternoon rush hour. The queues were bigger that in Bucharest, but everybody (drivers, pedestrians and cyclists) was much more disciplined.
Usually, when going through Europe I search for hotels based on recommendations or I go with the big hotel chains, which offer virtually the same services no matter what country you’re in. This time, since we were 2 pairs, we thought it was more convenient to go with a 2 room rental apartment. We chose Lord Appartments, right in downtown Pesta, 3 minutes away from the Opera. The price was 120€/2 nights (+30€ for parking). The picture above is from the street we stayed on.
If you think the parking fee is expensive, you should know that throughout downtown Budapest you have to pay for parking, and rpices are quite high (up to 430 HUF – about 1,5 €/h). Once we got there we found out that parking in weekends is free, but given that the Lord parking was covered and guarded, I’d say it was worth paying for it.
What to see (in a day and a half)
After leaving the car at the appartment, we went for a stroll in Pesta.
Having enough of “road food”, we went on to teste some traditional Hungarian food in Liszt Ferenc square.
Afterward, we went for the Christmas market in front of St. Istvan’s (or John) basilica.
From there, you can quickly reach the Danube…
The next day, due to the cold and the limited time, we decided to take one of the many tourist bus lines. Since we wanted to pay by card, we got a “bonus” walk to the company’s headquarters in the inner court of a beautiful Art Nouveau building.
The bus leaves from the center on Andrassy st., the ex-central boulevard of Pesta, then reaches the Millenium square. The audioguide is available in 20 languages, including a very good Romanian, much over other audioguides I’ve used.
We were feeling courageous, so we went to the (uncovered) top floor – and freezed badly 😀
The look from below is cool, but the panorama from the Bastion is much more attractive. The curch in the back is called St. Stephen and it deserves the detour, even if it’s not comparable to the churches in other imperial capitals of Europe.
Below you can find some images from around the Castle.
The initial plan was to also visit the inside of the castel, but it was already getting pretty late so we decided to move on. The buses’ course would go on to the Citadel, a fortification used during the Second World War. Today you will find a wax museum inside.
You could get on the cannons from the yard and even look through the optical targeting system. Pretty cool, no?
At the far end of the Citadel there is a huge statue visible from the whole city of Pesta.
Back in Downtown:
An interesting church, build on a street corner:
The last few hours of daylight were dedicate to a small cruise on the Danube. The ticket was a combo with the panoramic bus, and the cruise has several stops from where you could visit various parts of the city. We wanted to see the Margaret Island, but the winter schedule meant that we only caught the last cruise of the day. At least we had the chance to catch some nice puctures at sunset. The camera was beginning to fail, so between pictures I had to warm it up under my jacket.
We had our diner at a medieval restaurant called Sir Lancelor. It looked much like the Excalibur restaurant from Bucharest, except it was bigger and it had much more entertainment (theater, fire eaters etc.). The effect of the entertainment on the slightly drunk tourists was quite funny, but I guess it was also pushing them to more eating and drinking.
The food also felt less medieval than in Bucharest. The menu contained plates such as bananas with meatballs in a doughnut-like shell (no idea what they’re called) which would have been difficult to prepare in the Middle Ages.
Sunday morning we went back on Andrassy str. and on the the eastern exist of Budapest. The neighborhoods further from the center have been very much influenced by communism, looking very much like their counterparts from Prague or Bucharest.
On the way to Bucharest we stopped in Deva to eat at the Ceapa Roșie (“Red Onion”) restaurant. The last time we were there we were impressed with the service and the food and we were eager to share this “secret” with the friends that accompanied us. Unfortunately we were bitterly disappointed this time – the food was terrible and the waitress seemed bored to an in inch of her life. If you have other recommendations from the area, please leave a comment – we would love to knon a good restaurant in Hunedoara county.
Would I go back?
Definitely! As a former imperial capital,Budapest has those dignified looks of the 19th century that make one want to explore it for much more than an weekend.