Mark and I spent a fantastic four days in the beautiful city of Budapest. We travelled with BA who were second to none in terms of service (more of them later!). We got an early flight so we could get a full day in rather than waste it travelling. So much to see, such little time!
Our home for the duration of our stay was the Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel which overlooked the river Danube and the famous Chain Bridge. Although from the outside my impression was that the hotel looked very much like a conference hotel...
...I'm glad to report that the inside was just stunning. Never judge a book by its cover!
When we checked in I was thrilled to received a personal letter as part of our upgrade and we were only too happy to take advantage of all the cheeky extras!
Our room boasted a beautiful view of the city below.
As for the room itself, upon arrival we discovered our bedroom had twin beds which wasn't ideal and we called reception to try and rectify the situation. Within minutes housekeeping came to change it into a double! We had a lounge area, flat screen and docking station so I could play all my favourite Zumba tunes!
The hotel has a spa, gym and pool and I made use of the gym. Don't believe me? Here's the proof! Wearing my Brackley Zumba Crew t-shirt of course.
The hotel lobby was magnificent! It features a replica airplane and has a Swarovski crystal fountain which is a modern tribute by French designer Jean-Paul Noel to the building's rich Hungarian history.
Budapest is split into two halves - the Buda and the Pest - by the river Danube and we were on the Pest side. Sounds about right! Mark and I found there was so much to see and do, in fact there was lots that we didn't get around to seeing which simply means we'll have to ensure we come back again!
We both like the history of places we visit and always do a castle tour which took almost a full day. The Buda Castle is often referred to as the Royal Palace and is home to a number of cultural institutions including the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Within the castle grounds there is a village with houses and shops and lots of places to stop to have a bite to eat and a refreshing drink.
During our walk I had lost count of the number of steps we climbed up so when we left the castle we used the funicular to get down. We'd done quite enough walking for one day!
We now felt that we well and truly deserved a little snackeroo!
Getting around is easy as you have many modes of transport to choose from including bike, tram and bus. The handy thing is that you pay a set price for your ticket and just get on and off as you please. Perfect!
One thing you must do is visit one of the thermal baths. Budapest holds the title "City of Spas" since there are 118 springs providing 70 million litres of thermal water a day. The temperature of the water sits around 78ºc - pure heaven!
Another must is a river cruise. They offer mini daytime cruises to more romantic ones at night. We opted for the latter since seeing Budapest by night is just beautiful.
What I really loved about Budapest is the little interesting and unusual things that you notice as you walk througout the city. Take these shoes for example:
You come across them as you make your way along the promenade on the Danube. They are a sad yet poignant tribute to the Jews killed in Budapest during WWII. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water so their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.
On a brighter note I must mention the padlocks! Hardly beautiful objects to behold but it would seem they are becoming a popular international symbol of love! We had already witnessed this in Paris and Prague but weren't sure about the story behind the offerings. Apparently couples fix the padlocks, which have their names written upon them, to bridges, fences and gates in order to publicly promise each other everlasting, until death-do-us-part crazy kind of love! It's quite sweet seeing each and every lock and knowing that it represents the love that two people have for one another. And yes, I am a soppy git.
Oh! Must go off on a random tangent ever so briefly. I found a street named after me which brought a huge smile to my face. It didn't last very long, however, when I was informed that it doesn't have the best of reputations!
As I said at the beginning there was so much to see and do but such little time. Before wrapping up my little travel blog, however, I wish to mention two people. The first is Georgina ( I hope I have her name right!) and she was the lady who looked after us and couldn't do enough to make our stay as pleasant as possible. We were greeted every day with a warm and engaging smile and almost perfect english!
The second person was one of the British Airways cabin crew called Mark. Not only was he attentive to his passengers but he had to deal with one really gobby, irritating and downright rude passenger who, personally, I would have punched with all my might! Mark remained cool and handled with dignity and decorum what could have been a very difficult situation.
I thanked Georgina and Mark in the best way possible - by giving them a GW business card! ;)
I really hope you have enjoyed our little trip together around Budapest. Do you enjoy city breaks? Which ones have you been on? I'd love to hear about them because we are always on the lookout for new places to explore!