Phew! Survival of the night train meant a stay in Budapest for two days!
A quick journey on the metro lead us to our hostel ‘Happy Flat’ and we really did get a flat! Two bathrooms and enough beds for six. We quickly learnt that we had arrived on a Hungarian national holiday – St Stephen’s Day, which is a day to commemorate the foundation of the state.
Our hostel man advised us there would be fireworks over the river at 9pm! He gave us some advice as to where to go, which was handy! We visited his recommended restaurant, Bali Caffe, for some lunch and then headed off up to the north east of Pest, to the Szechenyi Baths, just north of Heros Square (see picture!). Budapest was originally Buda and Pest, divided by the river Duna.
It was amazing in there, so many different baths, different temperatures, some inside, some outside. The sauna was insanely hot, and right outside it there was people getting straight into a pool of 16°C. Which may not sound that cold, but trust me, it was cold!
We chilled outside for a while. I say chilled, I mean baked in the heat. Then sat in a warm 37°C pool, which was surprisingly nice. We followed this up with some dipping in the thermal spring spa pools – temperatures between 20°C and 40°C.. I didn’t dare go in the 16°C pool, thought my heart would stop. If that’s 16, I don’t even want to imagine freezing!
As we’d spent quite a lot during the day (on a budget you see) we bought dinner, drinks and breakfast at a 24/7 shop. Sadly, we burnt our chips and the fish fingers were horrendous. I mean literally, bird’s eye would be mortified. They went in the bin. At 9pm however the fireworks cheered us up and we got some good shots on the SLR.
Tuesday we headed North up Andrássy Avenue to the House of Terror. The building had been occupied by two systems that dominated Hungary in the 20th century. The Hungarian Nazi Party, followed by ÁVO, and ÁVH, notorious communist terror organisations. Many people were tortured in the dungeons here, and the museum has been created to commemorate the victims and also as a memento to remind us all of the dreadful acts of these terrorist dictatorships.
Hearing the story of Hungary and how it was affected in many ways by the communists and the Nazis, added another piece in the WW2 puzzle, which I have learnt to be so very complex, controversial and confusing! So many countries and their people were affected by the horrors that war brought about.
After lunch, (I had Hungarian pasta), we walked over the Széchenyi Chain bridge to Buda. Took the finicular to the top of the hill for a view over the river, overlooking Pest and not to mention a look the Royal Palace and Castle Hill. It was so hot, and we spent a fair bit of time sitting in bits of shade to avoid melting in the sunshine.
Our evening meal was priced well and tasted so good. Found on trip advisor, it was just a 10 minute walk to Belvárosi Lugas. We had beer and soup and tasty chicken dishes. A fabulous second and final evening in Budapest.
Today, a three hour train to find out what Vienna has to offer…