Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Vacation Leg One: Budapest!

First stop: Budapest!

It was incredibly easy: Walk from apartment to Plaza Catalonya... A2 bus to the airport...RyanAir to to Hotel Plazzo Zichy, which we highly recommend at ~50 euros/night!

After orienting at the hotel, we just started wandering. Luckily we were able to figure things out pretty easily, and made our way down to the Danube. Random Fact: No matter what city we are in, Joe and I always find ourselves at the water first. We walked along the river, tried to act like it wasn't ridiculously cold, and then gave in and found our first christmas market... and within minutes we had mulled wine! Man on man is that stuff not the nectar of the gods!? We wandered the market for a while, had a snack of sausage and potatoes (Guess who ate what?) and then headed to St. Stephen's church. After touring it, we purchased tickets to an organ concert the following night.  From there we wandered more, walked around the Parliament, ate dinner at this enormous and tasty restaurant called Stex, and called it a night.

The next day we took the metro to the Buda side of the river, and wandered around Castle Hill. (Did you know Budapest is a combination of the Buda side and the Pest side? I did not!) On a whim (which really describes everything we did, so I probably shouldn't use that phrase...), we went to the Budapest History Museum. It was actually quite fascinating and gave a great overview of the city. I was especially drawn to the parts about WWII, and the pictures showing the destruction were horrible yet fascinating.  After hanging out on the Buda side, we walked over the Chain Bridge and grabbed lunch at a restaurant near the church. We then headed to the Jewish Synagogue only to find out it was closed and we missed it by 30 minutes. Argh, should have planned better! So we went back to the hotel to rest before the concert. (So, I should add that there was unlimited cappuccino at the hotel, so rest for me may really have meant drink endless amounts of coffee.)

Since we had some time, we decided to go to the train station to get our tickets to Vienna the next day. So glad we did this - it was ridiculously crazy there. We drew #78 to purchase tickets, but they were only on #48 and we only had a few minutes to spare... Luckily a guard gave us #50 and we bumped ourselves up! To make matters better, the tickets were only 25 euros! Wow, this is going to be a cheap trip! (Haha, famous last words.) We tipped the guard which made him laugh, then made our way to the organ concert.  The concert was FABULOUS!!! My favorite part was Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor (like this one), as well as some ridiculous flute solos. Who knew I liked the flute?!  This was definitely a trip highlight for me.  From there, we found ourselves at some food booths, grabbed a table by a pop-up fireplace, and finished our night with more mulled wine. Perfect.

Final impressions:
1. The city clearly has fascinating history, and it was equally fascinating to see how it continued to rebuild itself.
2. I think I might be in love... with Christmas markets.... and mulled wine...
3. Wintertime in Eastern Europe is crazy cold.

And now for pictures!
First Christmas Market + Nectar of the Gods!!!
So we knew it would be cold in Budapest... but WOW it was cold!!!

The Parliament building across the Danube. 
Obligatory couple shot at Castle Hill - a clear candidate for our photo wall of travel.
 The Buda Castle (Royal Palace)
 "The Falconer"
 Christmas market in front of St. Stephen's. This is the same church where we saw the organ concert.
 One of my favorite Christmas Market stands. i.e. Balls and balls and balls of candy and chocolate.
 Dinner our last night after the organ concert, sitting next to a fireplace.  Guess who had what? :)
Brrrrrrr!!!! Luckily we got the perfect spot next to a fireplace in the middle of the street, and that mulled wine took away the chill.

1 comment:

JohnF said...

Just now getting caught up with these posts in my reader. I visited Budapest once in high school. But it was still behind the Iron Curtain back then and we were limited in how much we could go off and explore. It would be interesting to see it no since it would be a very different place.