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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Budapest or Bust

A cheap flight from Easy Jet and a super low price for Intercontinental Hotel on the bank of the Danube led us to Budapest for the weekend.



Julie was being all loyal to her employer, so she flew Air France, arriving 20 minutes after us. Upon arrival we discovered that our terminals were 7 KM apart. We also noticed how many fewer words it takes for a greeting in Hungarian, as in 1 word Koszonjuk vs. 9 Thank you and have a great time in Hungary. Granted, the word in Hungarian is as hard as 9 words in English, but still...


We all met at the hotel and proceeded to explore our neighborhood
Alex was most surprised to see the changes in the past 10 years as Hungary has moved toward full blown capitalism. The typical assortment of high end retailers made us feel right at home, if not exactly charmed by the sameness of all European high streets. 

We also found an old world shopping center
maybe in the process of being restored?

And a second hand store with
clothes by the pound.


We traeted ourselves to a hot mulled wine and shut off our inner voices for the weekend.




Friday included dinner at Halaszbastya, within the Buda Castle. Best view in town 
without a close second, and fairy tale evening. Excellent food, wine and company, 
all in a glamorous setting made us feel like royalty.


Saturday after breakfast we all agreed to cross the Danube at the Chain Bridge, 
and "funicular up" to Castle Hill.
Chain Bridge












The area around the palace and castle is charming and full of beautiful sights: statues, monuments, church and  castle that made us linger for a very long time






Julie, Alex, Alison, Melanie
We even found a famous cake shop








Good thing about the cake shop, because when we stopped for bean and sausage soup, it had only one of the key ingredients. The waitress could not understand our criticism. Okay, she could not understand our English either, but she really didn't think it mattered if bean and sausage soup had sausage or not.
Alex begged off anything that might turn into a shopping spree (admittedly after buying a few little things) and headed off for a nap. Alison, Julie and I checked out a few more shops,(I bought a scarf and hat)  walked to the palace, and down a series of steps to get back to the river and home.

Fountain of St Mathias

Saturday evening we strolled along the main shopping street, with its Christmas market stalls. Alex asked "Has anyone in the history of mankind ever bought anything at one of these markets?" and ended up with 2 bags of goodies. A bit later we were innocently walking along Andrassy when a shirt store reached out and dragged us in. Poor Alex suffered the most with at least 6 new shirts attaching themselves to him. Julie and I were luckier, managing to shake off all but one. Alison must have been secretly vaccinated before the trip; only she emerged unscathed.
Following the trauma of the shirt store, we were forced to find a cute little street and have drinks and dinner.


Bohemian Restaurant - Excellent food
Bohemian Restaurant - very tiny drinks


Sunday morning was all about the spa for me. This is a beautiful oasis of calm, and the services are very reasonably priced compared to other cities. I do recommend it.

If you have not spent a weekend in Budapest, please do so. You will find good restaurants, nice people, beautiful views, and lots of fun. I know we did!

If you sit still long enough in Budapest someone will bring you a delicious cake.
If you still sit for too long someone will charge you double or quadruple for a drink.

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