2015 Budapest Long Weekend

Friday 11th September

Flight to Budapest is 2½ hours & we are staying at the Buddha Bar Hotel. Bought Andrew some Bulgari Man aftershave in duty free, as it smells gorgeous on him. We went out for a walk and had lunch at Cafe Gerbeaud, then a look around Paprika where we bought a pretty watercolour of the Houses of Parliament on the river Danube & a fridge magnet. Found a C&A and went in as I used to like the clockhouse stuff we bought a cotton blouse & cotton t shirt both white the as it’s raining went back to hotel to check in as it’s after 3pm. We’ve been upgraded at the Buddha Bar from a Corner suite to a Sauna suite, which is lovely but the 2 balconies have brick walls rather than views. We do have a fabulous huge bath & the sauna upstairs & super king bed & lovely bathroom, a sitting area & separate loo downstairs. The suite is all in black & red and very dark, no adequate lighting except in bathrooms which is a shame. All singing & dancing toilets though electronic seat up & down, wash & blow dry for your bottom and a light for evening & heated seat. Couldn’t book in for a massage at Buddha Bar so we decided to try Spirit Thai massage which was brilliant & a third the price for a hours massage which was very relaxing. We went round the corner for wine tasting at Vinolia which was good & I had a glass of the Cabernet Sauvignon afterwards & Andrew had a beer. It’s stopped raining & warm enough to sit outside now. Wandered around a bit more, then we found the Monks Bistrot & as the menu looked good we stayed for a fabulous dinner. Wandered back to the hotel then & ordered a drink at the bar to take up to our room - wine by the glass here is not good, won’t be having that again! The lovely comfy huge bed will make up for that though.

Saturday 12th September

Coffee machine only does espresso, so that woke us up! Shower is fine but door seal is gone so the floor got very wet. Breakfast was not so good – long life orange juice, stewed coffee & part cooked porridge in water! Andrew fared better with an omelette. Off out for the day now in lovely sunshine so we walked by the river the Liberty Statue is high above us, and the lovely Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion are across the Chain Bridge. Walked over the bridge & bought 48 hour tickets for the big bus co.hop on hop off bus. Went up in the funicular {included in bus price} to wander around the old town area. Cappuccino & freshly squeezed orange juice at Var Cafe both really good. Wandered all around the old town, the Fishermans Bastion is really lovely & we climbed up to the top for lovely views all over Budapest, the best view of the Parliament Building across the river Danube is from here. Took photos of the Bastion reflected in the Hilton hotels frontage. Also bought a Budapest booklet to identify the lovely buildings. Matthias church next to Fishermans Bastion is stunning, not allowed in unfortunately as there is a wedding on. Took loads of photos & video as there are beautiful buildings everywhere you look. Went briefly into the Hilton hotel as Margaret had told us that they built the hotel around the ruins of an ancient monastery, preserving it being the only way to build on that site. Fabulous old ruins, but didn’t seem to be any way in for a proper look, so just viewed it through the hotel window. Walked passed the old Post Office & all the way down to the Mary Magdalene tower then the ethnography museum a wonderful 18th century building. Walked up a parallel street then to the Hospital in the Rock. Lunched at Arany Hordo - stew & gnocchi for Andrew & robbers spit for me, walked around the old square here & bought me a Budapest T shirt. Went into the old Labirintus {Labyrinths below the castle} and wandered for a while, getting lost & finding the Dracula caves. We missed the tour bus, driver doesn’t want to wait for people, so walked back into town down hundreds of steps. Walked along by the river to the Parliament Building next and had a look around the outside - have to book online to go in, so went for a drink over the wibbly wobbly bridge instead at Proforma & Andrew booked a table at Prime for dinner. We were given scrumptious black bread with creamy butter while we waited for our fantastic 4 fillet steak tasting with caramelised onion roast potatoes & garlic spinach, accompanied by Penfolds Bin 28. Pudding was gorgeous Profiterole cake with a glass of Tokaji the Hungarian dessert wine each. Got a taxi back to the hotel, grabbed a cardigan & jumper & rushed down to the dock in time to catch the 9pm boat cruise down the Danube. This was incredible, Budapest looks magnificent in the evening with all the wonderful buildings all lit up. Watched a flock of birds circling over Parliament House for ages until they were out of sight. A lovely evening with a glass of Penfolds back at the hotel before bed.

Sunday 13th September

We were up fairly early & after an espresso in our suite we walked over the Elizabeth bridge to the Rudas Thermal Baths - 5 pools of different temperatures in all plus a steam room & sauna. Spent a couple of hours there relaxing, it’s a really feel good experience, and now a beautiful warm sunny day too. We returned to the hotel to freshen up & change. Off out to find the tour bus then & stayed on it till we’d been round most of the route, alighting near the St Stephens Basilica. Found a gorgeous scarf in one of the little shops here. Found Le Bourbon restaurant next the church so we stopped for lunch – scrummy pea soup with wasabi yogurt, chicken pancake with goulash sauce for Andrew & smoked duck with aubergine for me. Shared a sour cherry & poppy seed eclair & tried a glass of Tokaji each. We then went to St Stephens Basilica and found we could go in and have a look around, this is a stunning cathedral with wonderfully painted ceilings. Next we walked up to the Opera House which is very beautiful too, lovely carved & painted ceilings, all very sumptuous and with opera arias being played as you walk around. Time for another stop then at Porto di Pest cafe where I had a Baileys latte & Andrew had a beer. From there we walked across the city again to the New York Palace cafe in the Boscolo hotel, where we stopped for coffee & a trio of tiny Hungarian cakes, totally over the top décor, truly sumptuous all decorated in burgundy and gold, it reminded us of Obecní dům in Prague. Across the road from the cafe is a statue of what looks like Mr Tumnus the Faun in Narnia. A last stop on the way back to the hotel was the Great Synagogue of Budapest, built in beautifully patterned brick in the early 1900’s. It has 2 huge towers and apparently is the first synagogue built in the oriental moorish style. One of the wings is the Jewish museum & you can take a tour around it – must remember that for the next visit! Back at the hotel we decided it was time to try our sauna & use the ginormous bath instead of showering. Both were lovely and we spend a couple of hours wandering between the two. Later very relaxed we made our way to the Szimpla Ruin bar which is fairly close to the synagogue. We had a fantastic evening there, a Mojito for Andrew & a Bahama Mama cocktail for me, a wander around the whole ruin area which reminded us of Camden. A burger & beer & a pan full of chicken & a large red wine for me cost around £10. We listened to a live band, smoked an apple shisha, drank more cocktails & generally had an amazing evening, the atmosphere is so relaxed & friendly – love ruin bars!!

Monday 14th September

An espresso or 2 for breakfast, then I packed whilst Andrew went down for breakfast, we did the check out bits & arranged to leave our luggage at the hotel. Stopped at Kawha cafe for an espresso about halfway to the market. The Market is in a huge lovely building and is brilliant, downstairs is all food, meat, fish, lots of different types of sausages, smoked meats, spices & of course fruit & vegetables. Upstairs is packed with all the other souvenirs, T shirts etc. We bought a lovely cat candle holder, lighters, a little print of Budapest, a scarf for a friend, a T shirt for Andrew & a Lango {huge pancake style thing filled with lots of different meat & veg then folded over & sliced in half – very yummy} for lunch. Andrew found a lovely little street of shops to look around & we stopped at cafe Frei where they made coffee from all around the world Andrew had a Cuban espresso & I tried an Ethiopian caramel & ginger latte! Opposite was a great hippy style shop where we bought a green T shirt with flowers & a butterfly print floaty top for me. Only an hour before we have to leave, so back to Kawha for a beer & some water before returning to the hotel to change into jeans & boots then a taxi to the airport. The usual sitting around having coffee & last ciggie, bought duty free Tokaji to bring home & an ok flight. That is until we reached Luton where we circled in a queue to land, waited forever for steps to alight, queued for another hour or so to go through passport control & finally got to the car around the time when we expected to be home having stopped for dinner on the way!! Having stopped for lovely but quick steak dinner at Middleton’s we reached home & after a quick cuddle with the cats went to bed.