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Archive for the category “Hungary”

Daytripping out of Budapest

On our last full day in Budapest, we were treated to a personal tour of the Danube bend. Daniel, our excellent guide, drove us 60 km north of Budapest to Esztergom, the former capital of Hungary from the 10th to 13th century. At the top of Castle hill we explored the neoclassical Basilica, which is the tallest building in Hungary and also the head of the nation’s Roman Catholic church. Impressive features include the pipe organ and relics of saint Marko Krizin and archbishop József Mindszenty.

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We then drove to Visegrád where I climbed over 300 steps to see the mountain castle. I got so warm that I melted the plastic nosepiece and frame of my sunglasses while they were on my face! The views of the Danube panorama were well worth it, across the river is Slovenia.

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Our last stop on the tour was Szentendre, (translated it is St. Andrew’s), a baroque city built on the medieval ruins. We took a nice walk throughout the shops and then walked the promenade along the river. We even stumbled upon a movie set where they were using cotton to make fake snow on rooftops and had decorated Christmas trees long that street.

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It was a hot day, but we really enjoyed the tour and would gladly recommend it to those visiting Budapest.

The ultimate way to relax

We decided early on in our planning for Budapest that we wanted to set aside one full day for relaxation. For me it was one of the best days of the trip. Of the many baths in Budapest we chose Gellért Thermal Baths. These baths were built in the art nouveau style in 1918, yet references can be found to healing waters on this site dating back to the 13th century. The thermal baths get their mineral rich water from the hot springs under the Gellért hill.

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The indoor effervescent swimming pool is cooler at 26°C while the indoor and outdoor thermal pools are 36 and 38°C. There is also an outdoor wave pool and sauna with cold dip. The grounds are beautiful, filled with lounge chairs for sunbathing. We spent over 6 hours and felt relaxed and refreshed upon our exit.

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Later that night, completely by chance we stumbled upon the most amazing sushi restaurant. Nobu Budapest is owned by celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, who is known for blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients. We were very lucky they had a table available and before the meal ended we decided to make reservations for the following night. It was expensive, but it ranks in the top 3 of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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Hopping on and off in Budapest

We bought a 2 day pass for the giraffe line hop on hop off busses in Budapest. It was affordable and it also included a Danube river cruise. An added bonus was the free wifi because the Internet connection at our flat was not working on the first day. We caught the bus on Andrassy ut and took the red line all the way around. The most amazing view was from the Citadella, a former fortress that sits on the top of Gellert hill. The liberty statue looks down from here on the Daunbe, close to the Elizabeth Bridge.

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We got off the bus after a complete loop at the opening to City Park at the beautiful Heroes’ Square. The Hungarian version of the Voice was filming at the Palace of Arts on this square. The Millennium Memorial is situated in the middle of the square, complete with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century.

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We walked back along Andrassy ut and had lunch at a cafe. We then took a tour of the Hungarian State Opera House. Not quite as lavish as the one in Paris, but beautiful all the same. The iron curtain on the stage is very impressive and was installed as an important fire safety element in the theatre.

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That evening we cruised on the Daube river. It was a warm night, and I left most of the picture taking to Alison as it was a long day. It was a beautiful way to wrap up another amazing day of sightseeing.

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Beautiful Budapest

After having rain showers follow us through most of our travels, we have finally found the sun in Budapest. Temperatures are in the high 20s to low 30s and I’m applying sunscreen hourly. Our flat is located close to the opera house and the famous Andrássy Avenue, where we found great shopping and restaurants. The Veuve Cliquot terrace at Callas restaurant was the perfect place to spend an afternoon relaxing.

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Our first evening we decided to take a walk down by the Danube river, see the Chain bridge and Parliament building. The sun was just starting to set and the light was beautiful. We walked across to the Buda side of city and then strolled back to the terrace at the Sofitel hotel for mojitos and a late supper. Sitting there chatting away, Anne spotted us and came to join us for the evening.

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The next few blog entires will be all about our bus tour, our relaxing day the the baths and our day trip outside of Budapest.

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