We’re back home.
I had a wonderful time in both Budapest and Prague but of course, my beloved Berlin will still be my one and only. Have no fear.
After Manchester of course!
Last week, I told you how amazing Budapest was and that did not change. In fact, Budapest turned out to be so much better than I ever imagined…!
I mean, after 11 years, I was hoping for miracles. And I found them.
Before I go any further let me remind you that I travelled from Berlin to Budapest. From Budapest to Prague. And then from Prague back to Berlin again. By train!
I also spent six (6) days and five (5) nights in two separate hotels.
I’ve spoken often about how I like to do things my way and also how if I like a place, I return again and again. Budapest might turn out to be one of those places and so we spent our time in the city.
We didn’t go to Slovakia.
We didn’t go to Austria.
We spent all our time in Hungary and all of that time in Budapest.
ALL of it!
In fact, quite frankly, there wasn’t even enough time at all.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET TO BUDAPEST?
We only went for six (6) days so this was a sloooooow cultural family trip.
We did so many things and went to so many places that I don’t even know where to start so I’ll just list them. You’ll soon get the picture.
There is plenty to do in Budapest. You can:
- Explore the Great Market Hall or Nagycsarnok which was built in 1897 and is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. We found the market interesting but you know, once you’ve seen a whole collection of pig’s snouts for sale, eaten a pig’s ear for lunch, seen a batch of fried chicken claws and boxes of crunchy spiders, cockroaches and worms, not to talk of pig heads in a temple, you soon learn not to get too excited!
- Be guided through the largest Jewish community in Central Europe and take note of the historically important Hungarian Jewish Quarter and it’s synagogues and museums. It’s the second (2nd) largest in the world!
- Explore quite a lot of the bridges which are all so nearby.
- Get excited and get hopelessly lost and confused in a live escape game.
- Hop-on-or-off on a bus tour.
- Check out Elizabeth Square – Lots of young people use the square as a place to hang out and chill. Practically every day, people paddle in the fountain and take a quick “shower.” There is also free drinkable water from the water fountain and hot steam spouting out of the waters.
- Bring your own beer and wine but remember it’s officially illegal to do so, but unofficially ignored!
Enjoy the moment!
- Go on a free walking tour around the city. We went on the United Europe Free Walking tour which not only has a free orientation tour and a free Jewish District tour, it also has a free communism walk too!
- Explore the history and architecture of Budapest.
- Understand the difference between “Buda” and “Pest.”
- Take photographs of the Buda Castle.
- Walk by the riverside and imagine living in the historic seat of power – The Parliament.
- Check out some of the lovely churches and places of worship which are just bursting to be visited.
- Go to the lovely Budapest History Museum.
- Take photos of the Liberty Statue and Citadel.
- Glide into the Danube Symphony Concert.
- Wander around the Fisherman’s Bastion.
- Stroll freely through the side streets.
- Visit the Memento Park or Statue Park.
- Be thoughtful and remember the people who were shot into the Danube, by visiting the memorial Shoes by the Danube.
- Go people-watching inside the beautiful Budapest Castle with its neo-classical buildings.
- Merely ramble along the cobbled historical streets.
- Check out the various cafes, ruinbars and restaurants for a quick bite and a few rounds of Hungarian beer and Hungarian shots!
- Visit the Castle Hill.
- Splash in the fountains, lakes, ponds and rivers.
- Wander through a huge number of churches.
- Marvel at the architecture of the railway stations.
- Take a stroll on Margaret Island.
I remembered that I had seen something about a Hungarian buffet restaurant somewhere on the internet, and so we went looking for the place. It was a real Hungarian place. So Hungarian was it that I didn’t even recognise the food. Especially the more exotic vegetables! The restaurant is called Gastland Bisztró. We went to the one in Oktogon.
- Don’t forget to go shopping.
- Take a river cruise along the Danube river.
- Go to the wide variety of saunas, spas and baths covered by open-air thermal springs, wells, jacuzzi-like bubbly spots, neck showers, massage jets, whirlpools and massages.
If you’re thinking I’m going to tell you that I went to the baths in all my glory, then you’ve got another thing coming!
I found Budapest to be a classical city of awe so let’s get down to some practicalities.
HOW TO GET TO BUDAPEST
We decided to travel to Budapest from Berlin and I explained about the experience in my previous post. The train ride was cheap and fairly easy to navigate and from Berlin took twelve (12) hours but you can break the journey by going to Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria) or Prague (the Czech Republic). You could come in via the Keleti, Nyugati or Déli train station. We came into Keleti.
If you’re flying in then most international flights would come into Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport or you could take the bus-coach and come into Népliget Bus Station.
I DON’T SPEAK HUNGARIAN.
Although Hungary is a young country most people seemed to speak pretty good English in either American accents or really weird working class English ones! And if you speak French, Spanish, Russian or German, you will be very catered for as lots of tours and pieces of information could be found in these languages. I also noticed Japanese and Korean tourists and they looked very happy LOL!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
I don’t think so. Budapest might be a city from Eastern Europe but it’s the capital so you’re definitely not going to be living in a cave!
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
I saw many hostels, other moderately priced accommodation and budget hotel possibilities.
I can’t give you any details but catering to the more budget conscious traveller is available just try to remember that it isn’t Poland. Hungary is cheap but it isn’t that cheap!
I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?
Oh good god yes!
There’s such a lot to say and such a lot of information to take in that in order for this post not to be a 5,000 word piece, I’m going to work backwards and write about the last hotel in Budapest first, and then the first hotel with all the delicious food that is to be had in Budapest, next week!
Our last stay was at the five-star beautiful boutique and musically inspired Aria Hotel Budapest.
Let me tell you.
That hotel was amazing!
I had come into contact with the establishment because I was originally doing some research for my husbands’ birthday in 2016. I wanted to do something really nice for him and was thinking of perhaps taking him on a long weekend to New York, when my eye caught on a venue called The Library Hotel.
A library collection and a hotel with books?
On seeing it’s splendour I wondered whether they might have hotels in Europe.
And so I contacted them.
From that moment, they stayed in contact with me even sending a “we can’t wait to meet you” picture on Twitter which I thought was pretty awesome!
The Aria Hotel Budapest was a very new hotel with a musically inspired concept of luxury, a Hungarian experience, world musical heritage, a warm atmosphere and an exquisite rooftop that isn’t just a rooftop, but a rooftop that is almost parallel to the St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest!
Located in the historic city center on the Pest side of the Danube River, the Aria Hotel was a former 19th century bank that looked small on the outside but was distinctly large on the inside. It had 49 guest rooms and suites that each celebrated a major musical genre such as classical, opera, contemporary and jazz.
A bit like the Tardis of Dr. Who…!
The living space. Not the music!
We were in the Grand Luxury Room with 2 Full-Sized Beds – City View!
It was so nice to have a huge bed Queen-Sized Bed with lovely white cotton sheets and loads and loads of pillows, and cushions.
Our stay at the Aria Hotel was an extravagance.
When you book a room on-line, you can never be entirely sure what you’re going to get and can only hold your breath and cross your fingers.
I didn’t know what to expect in Hungary and was amazed at what we received.
Our Grand Luxury Room consisted of two huge 2 Full-Sized Beds, two (2) lovely fancy armchairs, a writing desk and chair, a large wardrobe, a mini-bar, a safe, a fridge with complimentary water, a coffee and tea-making service, a huge large-screen TV, an AC unit.
We had an en-suite bathroom that had a rainforest shower AND a large bath tub, and fitted out with “Molton Brown” beauty & bath hair and body wash items, body lotion, dressing gowns, fluffy slippers and plenty of fluffy towels!
We also had access to Aria Hotel’s spa and sauna unit that consisted of a heated pool, a Jacuzzi, hydro bicycles, a Finnish sauna, an infra-red sauna, a steaming room and a fitness room.
We were so lucky to have the sauna and spa to ourselves in the late evening.
Such a thrill!
We also had free WiFi, a room iPad, a docking station, access to a digital music library, a generous buffet breakfast and a complimentary Afternoon Wine & Cheese Reception. That is to say, free wine and cheese from 16:00-18:00 every day.
Because these are the important things in life LOL!
For breakfast, we had a menu and you could choose a selection of eggs, a variety of breads, jams and honey, a wide variety of cereal, muesli and fruit, home-made spreads and sauces, seafood, delicious cold cuts, and cheeses, vegetables, pickles and cream, As well as cake, pastries, tea, coffee, water and juices.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” was pretty euphoric!
Now brace yourself.
The Aria Hotel Budapest isn’t for the backpacker.
It isn’t for the stingy or the penny-pinching.
It’s for the grown-ups and those who want and like, the good things in life.
Here it comes…
All this from €336.00 per night in the Grand Luxury Room which for two (2) people would be €168.00 a pop!
Sometimes you need to spoil yourself.
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Budapest is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable and pretty to look at. The public transport system is fairly easy to use as there are only four (4) underground or subway lines. There are 268 buses plying the city roads, 32 trams and 15 trolleybuses.
Be very careful with taxis.
Make sure the price is fixed.
…Before you get into the taxi!
Or better still, take a traditional river cruise.
The sauna and spa in both the Aria Hotel Budapest and the Buddha-Bar Hotel were brilliant. At the Aria Hotel, we indulged in the luxury of my son and I being perfectly and completely alone in the cool pool, using the hot bubbly jacuzzi, and spreading out on the Egyptian-style chaise!
It was a shame that my husband – The Music Producer – couldn’t make it.
He would have loved it.
And the highlight of the Aria Hotel Budapest was the Highnote SkyBar.
“The Tall Young Gentleman”and I were lucky enough to get the opportunity to lounge in the SkyBar with complimentary cheese, wine and mock-cocktails, and stay as long as we liked.
And the view was exquisite so we just drank in the St. Stephen’s Basilica right behind us (so close that I felt as if I could touch it!) and the Ferris Wheel in front of us.
It really was glorious.
I really like Budapest.
It’s not as cheap as Prague, but is certainly reasonably priced.
It’s a chill-relaxing city with craft-beer and interesting wine.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
Try and stop me!
For more information about the Aria Hotel Budapest, please contact: Aria Hotel.
This article is part-sponsored by the Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest and part-sponsored by the Aria Hotel Budapest and I received a 50% discount on the Budapest Card, but all opinions and the wonderful Hungarian cuisine that I nibbled on, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
Next week, I’ll be writing about the first hotel that I stayed at in Budapest – The Buddha-Bar Hotel – and the wonders of Hungarian booze and cuisine.
If you’re not in Berlin right now, did you miss me in Budapest or Prague!
August is going to be baking!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to the baths in Budapest? Would you like to stay at the Aria Hotel and drink cocktails on the Highnote SkyBar?
See you in Berlin.
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