It's been all work and no play so far this year, with launching some of my back catalogue projects, preparing for the network transformation at the Post Office I manage and trying to keep up with my Goodreads challenge, so I thought it was high time to book a couple of city breaks to have some fun and see off 2014 in style.
I've just stepped off a plane from Budapest with my mum and I'm off to Chicago with my best friend in November. Good times!
So, what did we get up to in Budapest? We only had 48 hours. How much could we cram in? We actually did pretty well considering I didn't take a guidebook. I wanted to go with the flow and see what happened on this trip, although I did book a few things on Viator beforehand - just in case. All I knew about Budapest was that one half of the city was called Buda and the other was called Pest and the river Danube splits them down the middle. Pest is a lot older than Buda. It was a BA holiday so I got some lovely Avios airmiles and you know with BA that everything is going to run smoothly. The tried and tested BA holiday formula.
To kick start our holiday, I booked a retro airport transfer to our hotel on arrival (with Viator). Our fun loving driver was passionate about his beloved fleet of Trabants and we had a great ride to our hotel in Pest. Actually, our hotel was a perfect base doing a super breakfast and only 15 minutes walk from the riverside. We couldn't have picked better. The check in was easy and the receptionist gave us a map and we were soon off out exploring our immediate surroundings. We got as far as St Stephen's Basilica, which looked beautiful all lit up at night and then had late night pizza, before heading back for bed.
The next day, after a delicious, relaxing breakfast, we wandered down to the riverside, taking pics of the fabulous architecture en route to do our Floatbus tour of the city (another Viator pre booking). It was fantastic, we had a great tour guide taking us around, full of information and, of course, the highlight was splashing into the Danube as our bus transformed into a boat. We spent the afternoon souvenir shopping in a market by the Eye where I bought this wonderful little wooden toy. I'm a sucker for wooden handmade toys that have some kind of mechanism. I used to design and make automata. It was back to the hotel to change, then down to the Danube Palace to catch our champagne dinner cruise with traditional Hungarian fare (the final Viator treat). Incredibly relaxing experience and seeing Budapest lit up was special. I love cities at night. I also love cities on rivers.
I wanted to get pics of this impressive green building I'd spotted Saturday evening when we arrived, so we were on a mission to find it the next morning before we flew home. I finally narrowed it down to being the Applied Museum and got my photos. As we headed back the other way again towards the Danube, we visited another market to pick up an extra little suitcase for our souvenirs. That mission accomplished, it was time to walk over the Chain bridge and set foot on Buda.
All in all, it was a great trip, albeit very short and sweet. We really loved our hotel and already have a list drawn up for next time - explore more of Buda especially the castle and take the cable car, visit Heroes Square, take a tram ride and check out the underground opera house and theatre experience.
Here are some pics to enjoy...
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.