Sunday, May 01, 2005

Eger to Budapest

Another early morning today, I was not happy to roll out of bed. Last night's bands kept me up way too late and I didn't sleep well. Steph passed out in a heartbeat for the first time on the entire trip last night leaving me to ponder life and the meaning of the universe all by myself.

The Danube River
We ate breakfast at the Hotel Senator Haz and headed to the train station to catch the first morning train to Budapest. While waiting for the train I made a new friend. He was a crazy, rotten-toothed drunk — its 10 A.M. and he's clearly been drinking for a while — who came and sat down with us and chatted us up in broken English. I politely excused us, our train was in the station so I figured I could get on the train and leave my "friend" behind. No sooner did we sit down than he showed up again! Augh! Now he's offering me some of his beer and trying to sit with us on the train. We moved seats, making it clear we weren't interested, and began to strike up a conversation with a father and daughter from Sweden. Before the train left the station my new found friend decided to exit the car. I was quite thankful to see him go! We spent the entire trip discussing everything from politics to food to travel with the Swedes, they were incredibly nice and gave us some ideas of things to do and see in Budapest.

The Calvinist Church
We arrived in Budapest around noon, which meant we had a few hours to kill until we had to meet our hosts at the Bellevue Bed & Breakfast. We had our bags with us, so anything that involved limited walking was a good option until we checked in. So, after buying a 3 day train pass we headed across the river to Buda to find some lunch. Budapest is divided into Buda, the hilly side of the river, and Pest, the flat, metropolitan side, we had arranged for a B&B in Buda right down the block from the Fisherman's Bastion. Once we reached Buda we found a cafe where we could have lunch. Suddenly the prices for food and drink began to approach western European prices! Clearly the place is a bit of a tourist trap, it sits across the river from Parliament, though its views are not as nice as other locations. Our waiter was a pushy little man, he kept suggesting the most expensive items on the menu rather than listening to our requests for something a little smaller for lunch. The food was good, so we didn't feel too bad that we spent over $20 for lunch.

The Fisherman's Bastion
After lunch — I had a nice beer buzz working now, Dreher Bak (Bock) is a good Hungarian beer — we walked along the Danube river toward the Szechenyi chain bridge. Along the way we snapped a lot of pictures of the river, the bridge, Parliament and the Calvinist Church with its beautiful tile roof. It was definitely hotter in Budapest than it had been in the past 10 days, so we took the opportunity to cool off in the shade of the park surrounding the Calvinist Church and did some people watching. As the time to meet our hosts neared we began walking toward our B&B. Actually, to be correct we hiked our butts uphill to our B&B. I knew it was located on Castle Hill, but for some reason I didn't think that we would have to walk up three blocks of stairs to reach the street where it was located! Oi vey! This is going to be a pain in the neck!

Parliament (viewed
from The Fisherman's
The Bellevue B&B is in a beautfiul wooded neighborhood, the front door is 100 meters from the base of the Fisheman's Bastion which you can walk up to access the top of Castle Hill. We checked in and receied an upgraded room! Woohoo! The owner of the B&B, Judit, liked one of my email signatures so much that she commented on it numerous times, perhaps it was the reason for the upgrade. Sometimes it helps to be outspoken about one's political views, I guess. The room is nice and spacious, with a small bathroom and stand-up shower. There is a large balcony which looks out over the street and the woods heading up the hill toward the base of the Hilton Hotel. Thankfully, you can't see the hotel because of the thick stand of trees. This was a great find — thanks, Google! — and will be the perfect place to celebrate our second anniversary and end our adventure.

The Fisherman's Bastion
After settling in, we walked around Castle Hill and entered through the Vienna Gate on the north side of Castle Hill. We wandered around, up and down small streets and eventually found the Fisherman's Bastion. The Fisherman's Bastion was built in the early 20th century and overlooks the Danube and Pest, the views are absolutely stunning! We spent quite a bit of time on Castle Hill from the various lookout points where we took lots of pictures of Pest before finding the Funicular Railway — yes, another Amazing Race reference — and taking a ride back down. The Funicular runs down to almost the base of the Szechenyi Chain bridge. There was a major festival on the bridge today celebrating one year of membership in the European Union, so the bridge was closed to cars and became a pedestrian mall for the day. We walked over to Pest and sat down in Roosevelt Park to do some further people watching and locate a place to get some dinner. Eventually we found a local place that was highly recommended by the Lonely Planet Budapest book. The prices are half of what we paid for lunch earlier in the day, too bad the food wasn't half as good. Steph tried a local specialty, fisherman's stew, and it was horrible, the flavors were off and it was way too fishy. Yuck.

The Fisherman's Bastion
Back on the metro, we headed under the river and walked back to our B&B. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, we have a lot to see and do so we're going to get a good night's sleep.

View from the
Fisherman's Bastion

Flowers on Castle

Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Szechenyi Chain Bridge

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