05.08.2007 29 °C
I arrived in Budapest via my first ever night train. It was certainly an interesting experience. The train departed from Ljubljana at 1am and got into Budapest at around midday. I didnt book a couchette as i was looking to travel as cheaply as possible.....upon boarding the train i kinda regretted this quite a lot as i was just in a normal seat with no leg room and most certainly no hint of comfort! The first hour of the journey passed by and i was trying to get comfortable, im just at the stage when im drifting off to sleep and.........we arrive at the Croat border so they wake everyone up to check passports etc! My border guard obviously took a liking to me as he gave me 2 stamps which i was very pleased about (two off the Croat guard, the sloven guard just ignored me once he saw i had a british passport......ah the comfort of being a former imperial power!). For the next 4 hours or so nobody in our carriage got any sleep at all except one man.......who snored very loudly, basically he was just about shouting! He did get woken up again though when we were leaving croatia to enter Hungary (strange train route i know) and i got another stamp (off the croat again.....all i have so far is millions of croat stamps!.........ignored by the hungarian). And that was about all the fun and frolicks of the journey.
My hostel was about 2 minutes walk away from the train station (and also next door to the colonel!) which is great news when u have just come off a night train. As i hadnt slept much i just went to my bunk and got a couple of hours sleep. Waking up again i bought a travelpass and ventured out to see a bit of Budapest. As u might know the city of Budapest is divided into two halves Buda and Pest. One half is mainly like a normal city with a view good sites (buda i think.....though i keep on getting them mixed up) and the other is the tourist half. I was in the normal half which was good in some ways (amazingly cheap.......10 euros a night, close to the train station, cheap food) and bad in some ways (20min tram ride from sites and an amazingly complex tram system). So as i wandered around the normal side only i wasnt that impressed with budapest on the first night and went to sleep that night abit worried about what i was gonna do with my next 2 days.
I woke up early on day 2 (yes early....about 8:30!...i havnt actually stayed in bed past 10am yet!) and figured out where most of the sites should be. I got tram 18 which i thought should take me to the centre.....nope it took me to some industrial estate, which was alright but still just an industrial estate After backtracking the tram 18 route and giving tram 21 a try i finally found myself in the city centre, which to start off was just like any other city centre, all the normal shops, topshop h&m etc etc but after wandering for 10mins and then walking around a corner u come to the beautiful chain bridge which is overlooked by a huge citadel, palace and museums. For the first time in Hungary my camera was out of my pocket! I went over the bridge and upto the citadel which was really really beautiful, some superb views, great history and incredible architecture. I was walking around with a french girl at this point from my hostel who was also travelling alone (no i didnt before u ask) and we went into the national museum, budapest musuem and military museum (surprisingly that was her choice) all of these were really really amazing and told me lots of things that were really helpful with navigating the city. My only minor complaint would be that the military museum concentrated mostly on the hungarian uprising (which clearly is hugely important for hungarians!) but largely ignored world war 1 and 2 (ignoring ww2 i wasnt overly shocked at, but ww1 come on....they were the damn austro-hungarian empire!). Anyway we finished the days sightseeing with a trip to the hungarian parliament (my choice...not surprisingly) which is a wondeful wondeful building which puts the houses of parliament in london to shame. at night we ate in the hostel (some kind of weird pasta mix that we threw together from what we both had left from the last night...and a box of ice cream for dessert), drunk a bottle of Macadonian wine (cost around 80p) and a bottle of moldovan wine (about 1.50) and played cards. if i was gonna offer wine advice...and im by no means a professor, i would say go for the moldovan....its actually really really nice! and hungarian beer is a bit shit, though austrian and slovenian are both widely available and both quite nice though austrian is pricey!
my final day i said bye bye to valerie (hello if ur reading this by the way) and put my bag into storage at the train station before heading off to the thermal baths. This place is very very amazing, its a comibination of steam rooms, sauna's, heated pools (ranging widely in temp), ice baths, swimming pools, whirlpools and massive heated swimming pools. Its all set in beautiful beautiful buildings and i kinda regret that i only had a few hours in there as its a place u could happily spend a half day or so. Unfortunatly u werent allowed cameras in there so all i have is a couple of pics taken from the entrance window. After that i went to a place called Hero's column which is the most amazing individual place i have visited so far, i have loads of pics of it, but none of them do it any justice, it was just so out of this world!!
My last 2 hours were spent killing time in a cafe in Budapest....while waiting for my night train to Krakow in Poland. I have booked a couchette bed this time so it will be interesting to see how it goes!
take care everyone, pics coming soon