Beautiful Budapest

Two days of breathtaking sights and lots of fun

Hungary’s Parliament Building. Picture by Anu Anniah

Arriving and Settling In

A year ago this day, I landed in Budapest feeling rather er..hungry. Four of us were to meet from various parts of the world for a week-long holiday. I landed first and had to find my way to our room. I had been told that someone would be at the airport to receive me and cart me to our accommodation. Many people were at the airport. Except ‘someone’. I called. I was told in hesitant English that the car was kaput and I would have to fend for myself. Yay! Off to a great start.

Managed to hire a cab and reach the place. Called the contact person. He informed me that I was early and hence he was not there. I sat on the curb with my eye-catching lime-green suitcase for the next hour. I felt the makings of a new sitcom called Curb Your Enthusiasm!

Finally, the contact person arrived and showed me to our rooms. When I saw the inside of the apartment and our rooms, all my frustration vanished without a trace. It was beautiful. The building itself looked old and rustic with its grilled passages and a rumbling old lift. Inside our home though, the rooms were well-appointed and modern, and very classy. Sigh!

Picture by Anu Anniah

The best part was this lovely old lady next door who saw me arriving, and invited me to tour her tiny garden. We communicated using sign language, and I came away with a few juicy and sweet strawberries from her garden. Yup! This holiday was looking up!

Waiting for the Others

I examined the lovely home and decided it was time to listen to my stomach. I headed out to forage for food. Meanwhile, my friends had started trooping in at the airport. They were going to wait for each other and arrive home as one bundle.

I walked along the streets of Budapest admiring the old buildings and soaking in the atmosphere. A short while later, I was literally soaking, and shaking with cold. The skies had opened up! I found a soup and sandwich place, ducked in, and tucked into a juicy veg sandwich. Life felt good!

Went back home, and waited for the troops. Jet lag won, and I must have dozed off at some point. I heard voices outside. My phone had been considerate that I was fast asleep and chose not to ring when my friends called. So they were loitering outside trying to find our room.

Finally, we were all united. Being the sweetest of the lot, I made them yummy tea and offered them some of the snacks I had carried from India.

Night Life was Full of Life!

The night was young, and we had places to go.

We picked ourselves up from the comfortable couches and headed out to dinner. The Buda expert among the 4 of us had picked Vicky Barcelona. Good food, great drinks, foot-tapping music, excellent ambiance, a good-looking crowd — our night in Budapest just turned awesome.

Picture by Anu Anniah

What’s a visit to Budapest without visiting the famous Ruins Bars. Again, our chief tour guide picked one of the famous ruin bars — Szimpla Kert. The place was eclectic, filled with high energy, and gave us a buzz even before we ordered any drinks. We proceeded to drink, chatter, and dance the night away. It was like being transported into some other world — a world where we did not have to worry about work, school, kids, the kitchen, or anything mundane. Life felt right!

City Tour

The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast at a place close to our room, and headed out to view the sights and sounds of the city. The chief led the way, and we bleated and followed.

First up was the scenic Gellert Hill. It was a cold and rainy day by my standards. I had on a sweater and a jacket, and a woolen cap. The other three sauntered breezily in thin rain jackets, the diplodocuses!! Hmph!

It was an uphill task and my legs complained throughout the walk. But when we reached the top, it was suddenly well worth it. The cloudy, mildly rainy day added to the romance, and the views were dreamy.

View from Gellert Hill. Picture by Anu Anniah
Another view of the beautiful Parliament building. Picture by Anu Anniah

From Gellert Hill, the chief led us to the next tour spot — Fisherman’s Bastion. Slight bad luck for us that it was a gloomy rainy day. Regardless, Fisherman’s Bastion managed to make us spend a couple of hours drinking in the beautiful buildings and the amazing views. In hindsight, I think the rain added to the atmosphere. The viewing towers and turrets looked straight out of a medieval castle setting and changed the mood to moony and romantic 🙂

Fisherman’s Bastion. Picture by Anu Anniah
Fisheman’s Bastion. Picture by Anu Anniah

By this time, it was late evening. We had booked a river cruise on the Danube. We were cruising along gently on a placid river with twinkling city lights on either side. The setting Sun and the gray clouds created a beautiful sense of drama. Suddenly, we came upon the startlingly beautiful Parliament Building lit up like a glittering jewel.

We thought the building was beautiful and majestic by day. By night, with all the lights, the building transformed into a glowing, shimmering piece of art like a bejeweled necklace on the lovely Danube!

The shimmering Parliament. Picture by Anu Anniah

A Warm Bath

The next morning, it was time to discover the famous thermal baths of Budapest. The chief picked Gellert Spa. The rest of us are good sheep. We don’t question. We just follow.

We headed to Gellert Spa, immersed ourselves in one of the thermal pools, and forgot about the world.

Gellert Spa. Picture by Anu Anniah

The spa has multiple pools of varying sizes and temperatures. We chose a smaller one and it was just right for us.

The temperature was perfect. The pool was not deep (er…some of us can’t swim…), and there was no one else in the pool we had chosen. The mile-high roof, the blue tiles, and the calm atmosphere, everything was just so perfect and delicious. So much so, that one of us fell into a deep sleep right there in the pool! We had attained thermal nirvana.

The night ended with another visit to our favorite Vicky Barcelona. I think we all fell in love with that restaurant.

Bye Bye Budapest

Too soon, it was time to leave. Two days of food, fun, stunning views, and dreamy weather. Yup, we loved Budapest!

Our next stop was Prague! Since it was a short flight, and we were all traveling light, we had booked a low-cost carrier to Prague. Low-cost carrier means waiting on the tarmac in the rain like waiting for a bus at a bus stop. It means being seated in the aircraft without AC when there is a delay. I toyed with the idea that the airline had been hired to gently lull the passengers into fatal sleep by cutting off our oxygen supply.

Before my brain could come up with any other conspiracy theories, the plane taxied out, and we were off to Czech out Prague!

This story is published in Writers on the Run. If you’re interested in submitting your travel stories please visit our submission guidelines.

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