Taking the Long Way travel blog

I'm not sure what this one was for but there are monuments...

Walking through Pest

The main square of Deak Ter


Gellert Hill with Szabadsag Szobor (Independence Monument)

Sightseeing boats on the banks of the Danube




Kiralyi patola (Royal Palace)

Elizabeth Bridge


I wasn't able to see what this was for but it was...

Parliment House



Soviet memorial

Chicken Goulash

SzentIstvan Bazilika

Inside the Bazilika

The mummified hand of St Stephen is in there

Changing room cabins at the Szechenyi Furdo

Indoor thermal pools

Showers, and entrance to a sauna

Whirlpool spa that carries you around in a circle, and is difficult...

Relaxing in a 38C pool

A popular 34C pool

Water aerobics anyone??

The outdoor pools



Opera House

Out for dinner in Pest; Sean, Nicole, me and Luke

After spending more time in Croatia that I have in any other country for some time now it felt strange to be moving on to Hungary and leaving behind the land of pizza and ice-cream. I took the train from Zagreb to Hungary but very sensibly decided on a day train rather than another sleepless night sitting upright. Coming into Budapest was an education; I had no idea that the city is not in fact called Budapest but rather it is two separate cities on the western and eastern sides of the Danube river that are called Buda and Pest, respectively.

I stayed right in the heart of Pest which seemed to be the more vibrant of the cities, in the central square of Deak Ter and although initially was only going to stay for two nights, ended up staying for three. Pest is the city’s commercial centre, with culture, restaurants and nightlife, smoky bars and shady gardens, museums and bath houses.

Walking along the Danube, which is the main artery of the city, there are numerous passenger ferries and sightseeing tours that trawl up and down the river past many of the main city sites and through to Margaret Island, which is located smack bang in the middle of Buda and Pest. I did it the old fashioned way, by foot, but after covering about 7km in one day was really wishing I had revised that plan.

Over on the Buda side was Gellert Hill which has a statue of a gigantic lady with a palm leaf proclaiming freedom throughout the city. The monument was erected as a tribute to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Hungary in 1945. Just next to the monument is the Citadella; it was built by the Habsburgs after the 1848 revolution to ‘defend’ the city from further insurrection but it was never used as a fortress. The massive Kiralyi Palota, Royal Palace, is also in Buda and is an enormously impressive building, or collection of buildings really.

There are lots of other sights and museums scattered around Pest but arguably the most spectacular is the riverfront Parliament, which was modelled on London’s Westminster but with crazy spires. I also went to the colossal Szent Istvan Bazilika to see the mummified hand of St Stephen (big let down, it just looked like a brown log in a glass case).

But the finest activity that pest had to offer, in my opinion, was the Szechenyi Furno in the city park. This place is an amazing thermal bath house built in 1908 that has 3 enormous outdoor pools, all set to different temperatures, then inside there are multiple thermal baths, saunas, steam rooms and massage areas. The steam rooms and saunas each ranged in temperature from 35 degrees up to 100 degrees with the temperature of each clearly displayed outside the entrance. I wasn’t game to try 100 but I did get up to 80 degrees; for about 5 minutes. Similarly with all the pools, they ranged from a chilly 18 degrees right up to a toasty 38 degrees. Most people hire an indoor cabin to get changed in, which I found quite unusual as there were change rooms, toilets and lockers available for free.

Nicole, a friend that I used to work with at Bankstown JIRT in 2006, has been living in London since 2007 and is travelling with her fiance, Sean though Europe before moving back home so it was fantastic that we were able to work out where our paths would cross and that happened to be Budapest. It was great to see Nicole again after so long, to meet her Sean, and above all to see a familiar face from home! It looks like we will probably cross paths again in Poland and a game of Scrabble is on the cards, much to my excitement!

The public transport system was easy to use, with basically three main metro lines to take you anywhere you wanted to go. The funniest thing was standing at he tickets counter two English little old ladies in front of me who were trying to buy tickets and were quite taken aback when the ticket seller, who spoke no English, repeated yelled at them ‘2 dickheads, 2 dickheads’. It was a few minutes before we all realised that he was asking if they wanted two tickets.

I’m not sure how it happened but somehow I have booked a hostel in Slovakia next and completely overlooked going anywhere else in Hungary so Budapest will have to remain my only memory of Hungary but it was a really great city, especially the goulash soup!

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