Day 10: Exploring Budapest Part 2

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Budapest
Tags: , , , ,

Today I woke up bright and early at 6:30 and snuck out of the apartment without disturbing the sleeping she-beasts… Everybody was pretty tired last night so I figured I’d sneak down to someplace with free wifi and let them sleep while I updated the blog. Turns out the only place with free wifi was McDonald’s and it hates our blog for some reason. But I was able to type out drafts for the last two posts while I sat at one of their outdoor tables waiting for them to open… The wifi was sporadic but it was nice and cool outside and the street was pretty quiet at that time of morning.

I went back up around 8:30 to see if they were up and about but not a creature was stirring so I snuck back out and did some more work on the photos (so far we’ve taken just over 1000 photos – at this rate we should finish up with about 6000 images from this trip so keeping track of them and backing them up takes a bit of planning and time). Eventually I made my way back up to the apartment to see that they were partway towards getting ready… We eventually left the apartment heading for the docks to take advantage of one of our free boat tours (we got coupons for two of them with our hop-on hop-off bus passes). Our plan for today was to use the boat tour to get us to Margaret Island (a little island smack dab in the middle of the Danube) where we were going to rent bikes (also a freebie with the bus package) and then explore the island by bike for an hour (it’s only 500 metres wide by 2km long so we’d have plenty of time to explore). Then we’d get back on the next boat to come along and it would take us back to our starting point…

It was a great plan. The only thing that thwarted it was a colossal thunderstorm that blew in (literally – the winds were awesome and arrived out of nowhere) and threw a wrench in our plans. Seeing what was coming, Marie was all like “let’s just keep riding… it won’t rain that hard…” I was more like, let’s take shelter under this conveniently placed arch in the ruins of an old nunnery ’cause this is going to get ugly.” I won’t say I told you so… but I told you so… For the next twenty minutes the rain came down in buckets and the lightning flashed all around us and the thunder boomed. We were nice and snug and dry in our little arch (gee thanks dad… excellent man skills to find such awesome shelter before the storm drenched us) until Marie decided that we should risk thousands of dollars in camera gear and electronics by cycling in a tropical monsoon just so we could avoid paying a $10 late charge for bringing the bikes back late… So we dashed out in one of the minuscule breaks in the rain only to get caught in several epic downpours on the way back to the rental place… You should have seen Caitlin riding in the pouring rain with her head down and her sunglasses on (they worked great as goggles to keep the rain out of her eyes). Fortunately, the little rain cover that comes with my camera pack kept out most of the rain so my camera and other gear stayed dry… not so for us. We were pretty soaked – but the beauty of thunderstorms in 30°+ weather is you dry pretty quickly when the sun comes out.

Our plan was pretty much toast at this point so we decided to walk off the island and walk to Buda Castle – one thing about these trips… we do a lot of walking. It’s usually faster and easier to hoof it from point A to point B than trying to figure out bus routes and timetables and all that stuff so we’ll often just walk the distance. Besides you get to see more of the place that way. This part of Buda (between the Margaret Bridge and Buda Castle) wasn’t too interesting – a few impressive old buildings, some important-looking government buildings and a pretty cool looking church… And lots of puddles that some drivers went out of their way to drive through at high speed in hopes of soaking the tourists… We eventually came to the castle area (couldn’t tell you how long it took… maybe half an hour, maybe more) and paid to take the little “funicular” (basically inclined elevators that haul elevator cars or gondolas or trains up the side of hills to avoid walking) to the top of the castle. Once up it was clear that this was more of an acropolis-type set-up with a castle and a small town and government offices and a church, etc. all on top of the fortified platform at the top of the hill. We wandered around for a bit (couldn’t really go into the castle itself unless you went into one of the museums or art galleries… and we were taking a break from museums), grabbed a bite to eat from one of the tourist self-serve restaurants (a little pricey but food wasn’t bad at all) and then wandered over to the cathedral area. We missed opening hours by about 15 minutes so had to content ourselves with just looking at it from the outside. Then we made our way to the bus stop for our hop-on bus and hopped-on to head over to the Citadella… Basically a late 19th century fort at the top of Gellert Hill… For some reason the citadel and all the museums, etc. in it are closed right now with security guards blocking the entrance so all we could do was make a loop around the outside and take some pictures of Budapest spread out below us then it was back on the bus to go back home.

We stopped at a little corner store to stock up on some cold drinks and then headed home to freshen up (as in wash the dirt left over from our soggy bike ride off) and change clothes then headed out to do the 1 hr night boat tour (also a freebie with the hop-on pass we’d purchased). We piled on the boat (your typical long and low Danube tour boat) and then spend a very nice hour touring the water from the Margaret bridge at one end to the newest bridge (I can’t remember it’s name) at the other – along the way we passed most of the major sites and the setting sun, early evening light was very pretty. It was well worth the time (especially given that we didn’t really have to pay for it as our bus pass has more than paid for itself in freebies and discounts and useful bus routes). Atfer the tour, we spent a fair bit of time wandering around looking for a reasonably priced place to eat that also had free wifi (harder to find in the Fashion Street area than you’d think) and eventually settled on a place called Jack’s Burgers – it was quite reasonably priced (a chicken sandwich, a chicken burger and fries, two slices of pizza, a beer, a big bottle of ginger ale and a water came to $20) and the food was very good – Marie’s chicken sandwich was one of the best she’s ever had… And their wifi was fast and didn’t hate wordpress so I was able to get caught up on blog posts while Marie did some banking and Caitlin caught up with friends via Facebook (and played Candy Crush… I think we might need to do an intervention before this trip is over)

This was our last night in Budapest – tomorrow we’re going to check out the Grand Synagogue and then maybe Parliament (Marie’s choice) or one of the thermal baths (Caitlin’s and my choice) before heading to the Keleti train station to catch our 7pm sleeper car to Sighisoara, Romania. We’re going to miss Budapest but after 3 big cities with lots to do and see and all the tourist hurly-burly we’re looking forward to 2 days of relative downtime in a much smaller village (I think there’s around 27,000 people in Sighi compared to 2 million in Budapest!) Tonight will be our first of three overnight train rides so we’re hoping all goes well and that we get a decent sleep… Otherwise we’re going to be those crashed-out tourists you see sacked out on park benches as we arrive at just after 6am and won’t have a room until much later (although the pensioné has agreed to let us drop our bags there as soon as we arrive).

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  1. Debbie Frank says:

    Üdvözöljük a Budapest!(Welcome to Budapest).Boldog vagyok, élvezi a gyönyörű város Budapest (I am happy you are enjoying the beautiful city of Budapest). A képek a Budapest szépek (your pictures of Budapest are beautiful). Én honvágya most, és azt hiszem, lesz majd a következő évben (I am homesick now and I think I will be going next year). Biztonságos utazik. Alig várom, hogy a tárgyaláson minden az Ön utazik, amikor hazaérsz (Safe travels, and I look forward to hearing all about your travels when you get home). Take care, Debbie

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