Tag Archive: hungary

Today was going to be a lazy day in Budapest for a couple of reasons. One, the weather isn’t that great, overcast and the occasional drizzle. Second, we went to the Szechenyi Baths to relax, and to see how Hungarians relax on the weekend. These are the, described by the concierge at the hotel, “the nicest, most popular, and most expensive baths in Budapest.” I’m not going to argue that point, seeing it’s the only one we’ve been to and will go to. But it was great. The baths are heated by hot springs, which are all over Hungary. They have three pools, but one was closed. So they had the “swimming” pool open, which was 80 degrees, and they had the “hot” pool open, which was around 100 degrees or so, and was packed. It’s like a hot tub for 500 people in which most people are just sitting on the steps people watching while they relax. Others float around, while some vets to the scene play chess on built in boards on the side of the pool. The hot bath would actually be a lot hotter, since the water coming from the spring is actually 180 degrees, but then is mixed with cold water at the surface.

We hung out there for about 3 hours. That was just enough time for the hot water to suck the life out of us and relax every part of our body. I think some locals must spend 10 hours there at times. Some people didn’t move the whole time we were there, but they grew up with it I suppose. From there we took a walk back to the hotel down Andrassy Street, which is the “Champs Elysee” of Budapest. It has all the high fashion stores, and is designed just like it. On the way back, we picked up a pastry that they sell all over this town which looks like a funnel cake, but not like we are used to. It’s an actual funnel, kind of like a hose wrapped up, with cinnamon all over it. It’s delicious and very cheap. That along with enormous pretzels seem to be the most popular street food around here. We could have eaten 10 of them.

yes, this felt amazing and was over 100 degrees!

yes, this felt amazing and was over 100 degrees!

We finished the night out at dinner at a restaurant recommended by the hotel. Today is Annemarie’s 29th birthday, so I figured it was the least I could do and take her out. She had a great dinner, and enjoyed her grilled goose liver and venison. I did enjoy my goulash soup, and my rooster (tastes like chicken), but not my dessert so much. I though strudel was supposed to be sweet?  Maybe not, who knows. We also didn’t like the fact that the sommelier for the restaurant asked what we liked…and then pointed out the most expensive wine on the list…for a type of wine we didn’t like? Not sure what he was thinking, other than discontent after I said I’d pick one myself and took the wine list from him. He also brought us a drink that locals like to have called Palinka. It comes in bunch of different flavors, but honestly hits your throat like whiskey. Not a fan, and we thought it was given to us as a good gesture by the restaurant. No, it wasn’t. They also brought us water, but was it on the house? No. Gotta love it when you have to pay for water. Annemarie also was ticked because they had no problem bringing us all types of things to drink we didn’t want, but then when our wine glasses were empty, no one came to fill the. Note, we ordered a bottle, but they wouldn’t leave it on the table, so we always had to wait for them to come around, which wasn’t often. Ok, rant over. Food ok, good wine that we chose, bad service.

We enjoyed getting a Skype call from my family today back in Pennsylvania, on top of all the calls for Annemarie’s birthday. We had been asked if our marriage was still strong after being within 5 feet of one another for the last 3 weeks or so. We said yes, but the hotel here in Budapest must have thought we needed a break. They hooked us up with a suite, but as you can see in the picture below, must’ve thought we needed a break from one another. So I’d like to adjust my comments to aunt, uncle and grandmother and say that our marriage is doing great, but currently, we are experiencing a trial separation…of 12 inches! 🙂

It only took 9 countries to put space between us :)

It only took 9 countries to put space between us 🙂

Ok, going to watch the rest of the UNC/Oklahoma game, yes we get it live here, and find some good places to hit tomorrow in case we head over to Slovakia and check out Bratislava. Cheers!


Our journey to Budapest started out with some humor that we found on a couple of our flights. As you know, all of our flights on the trip are in business class because of this award we are on, but on some flights there have been very few people in business class, probably just because of the cost and it’s not the high tourist season…anywhere. This was no different on our flight with Malev Hungarian. Once we board we wait for everyone else to board and then they close the door to the plane only to find that out of 19 business class seats….we are the only ones in the section! It was pretty humorous, as the seats on this airline are no different from coach to business, other than they have a flap on them that said “SkyClub.” Guess there aren’t that many members.

Anyway, we got a small meal, blah, blah, blah, but the flight attendant was the nicest we’ve had on the trip to date, even better than the Cathay Pacific attendant on our flight from Hong Kong to Dubai. She was pleasantly surprised that we were visiting Budapest and not just connecting there. She was very proud of her small country and city, but said it had a lot to offer and was beautiful. She was right. The city is small compared to Paris or London, but definitely has some charm, with the Danube running right through the middle of it. As soon as we got into the city, which was a debacle since I read directions wrong, again, we loved it. It definitely does remind you of Prague, for those that have been, but much less touristy, which was nice.

Our hotel is dead center, and right off the Metro, and the hop on/hop off tours leave from right in front, so that was even better. We are very near the pedestrian streets as well, which just reminded us once again that they should have these in the States. We grabbed some dinner, and then caught up on some work and emails and called it a night so we could tackle the city the next day. And that’s exactly what we did.

Heroes Square

Hero's Square

We were going to walk the city for the day, but since we wanted to spend Sunday at the thermal baths, and then Monday head off to Bratislava for the day, we decided to take the hop on/hop off tour around the city. All in all we probably could have done without it as it wasn’t that great, but it did get us up a few hills that we could’ve done without, and took us down some roads that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The city is split into two parts, Buda and Pest, with Buda being the more residential side, and Pest being the work, social, and commercial side of the city. Buda is almost more on a hill, and looks over Pest, which at night is really nice with all of the bridges lit up going across the Danube, including the Chain Bridge (most infamous bridge in Budapest).

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

After the tour ended, we ended walking around Pest a bit, which is very walkable. We hit the pedestrian street and decided to grab a few beers and relax and people watch. Keep in mind, it was only about 50 degrees out, but it seemed they take any chance they can get with having tables outside, and complemented those with space heaters and blankets on the seats. It was pretty nice, as long as the wind kept down. We had some local brews, including Annemarie trying out Amstel Pulse, which tastes better than the Amstel back in the states, and comes in a pop off bottle instead of a twist cap, kind of cool. We also finally had some Hungarian goulash, which is nothing like the stuff we grew up with. It’s really more of a broth, with potatoes, vegetables, and beef, and tastes excellent. You can eat quite well in Budapest for not that much money relative to most major cities in Europe. Hungary still works on the Forint, as the adoption of the Euro some feel would destabilize things too much. It’s about 230 Forints to the dollar right now, which actually really works in our favor, unlike most European countries.

Another area we saw while out, and one of the main attractions in Budapest, was Heroes Square. It’s about 2 blocks wide, and is right in the middle of the city. Picture below is courtesy of our handy tripod again in front of Heroes Square. We walked around there for a bit, and then walked around the park which was behind it. There were people everywhere, including a motorcycle rally that was about 500 deep, including some trikes. That was our day in Budapest, and we crashed hard once we hit the hotel…at least Annemarie did. I got to see a little bit of the NCAA tournament until I passed out at halftime of the Pitt/Villanova game, argh!

Next up will be our lazy day at the Szechenyi Baths!