Close to the end of our first day in Budapest, and we’re a little weary from a lot of walking, just sort of passing time until dinner. It’s rainy out, and it seems that Budapest shuts down on a Sunday, so we’ll just eat in the restaurant in the hotel. We ate there last night (I had a magnificent Wild Boar Stew with Gnocchi) and it’s pretty good. And slightly cheaper than Australian prices, which is a welcome turn of events after the gougind prices in Sweden.
We got into Budapest at about 9 o’clock last night and found ourselves pretty much smack in the middle of the city on a Saturday night. Quite busy. We had read in our guidebooks a series of horror stories about taxis being run by the mafia, so we were a little wary. Fortunately, we got an honest driver who was more than helpful, and our trip to the hotel ended up being about a third of the price we had expected. The hotel is very pleasant, if a little worn, but very comfortable.
I got up early to watch the Formula One, the only problem was the German commentary, which made it a little hard to work out what was going on. But I was happy to see it, germans or no.
A quick breakfast and off we went on our walking tour. The city is quite smoggy, no doubt a relic of the communist regime, but nothing like Los Angeles or Cape Town. We walked around a corner and saw the Budapest Palace, an imposing series of buildings that really puts other palaces in their place. It’s huuuuge. And it’s apparently a lot smaller than it used to be, with lots of damage in World War II and the Communist era (their version of restoration work was to knock buildings down!). It’s been seriously damaged and repaired 86 times in the last 700 years. So no doubt there are dynasties of workmen who have earned their livelihoods doing nothing than work on the Palace. And a damn good job they’ve done as well.
We then headed across the River Danube (not at all blue) into Pest (Budapest is the result of joining two cities divided by the river, Buda and Pest). Quite different from Buda, where our hotel is, a lot of winding streets, with cafes and shops. A little quiet, but that is probably due to the fact that it is Sunday, and apparently no shops open up today.
Other than walk around, we didn’t really accomplish a great deal. We had some nice coffees and snacks at various places, walked through the old Jewish Ghetto (where the Jews were confined to during WWII). We’re not really sure what we are going to do tomorrow. We will have to study the guidebooks a little. We will probably pop into Vienna for a couple of days on our way back to Prague.