First up, my phone. In the past three months my bill has exceeded £150pm, mainly due to the expense of data abroad. Whilst o2 assure me their new charging structure will significantly reduce this, I opt to unlock my phone and buy a Hungarian sim. Although I’m still waiting for o2 to unlock my phone, I head to Vodafone to see what the options are. 500 forints for the sim, minimum topup is 2000 forints oh and 500 for the paper clip sim extractor thingy, so 3000 all in. About £8. Really? That’s all? Beat that o2!
Now, I’m told that the only way to stand a chance of seeing a big place in minimal time, is a hop-on-hop-off bus, right? So that’s what I do.
Up the local equivalent of the champs élysées, past the old but stunning villas and I get off at Heroes Square. Wow. It’s like a mini St Peters from the Vatican, but in twice the space. I walk round the back and find a huge park, boating lake and more bridges. I purposely headed up here first as the hotel is on the Danube, so this bit’s harder to get to. But it feels like a different city. It’s wide streets, open spaces, few noticeable tourists, except this lot…
Heading the wrong way under the wrong arch beneath the bridge, they soon emerge again, backwards, with two other boats heading straight for them. Mum’s screaming at the kids, dad’s rowing perilously and they’re creating more splash than Kim Basinger in a dodgy 80’s Mermaid outfit.
But for everyone else, it’s a slow pleasant pace. Reminds me a bit of Melbourne but with older and far more stunning architecture.
Now that is blowing me away. Think Roman effort and variety with Parisienne chic, and lots of piazzas and parks. I love it! And I’ve only done 3 stops on my bus! Right back down to the river, a spot of lunch and over to Buda.
Totally different. This is similar to the royal bit of Monaco – built in/on a limestone hill, with steep, windy streets and a castle on top.
It’s very pretty but less bustly than Pest. Until 1873 they were two different cities. On unification, Buda became the historic military side and Pest housed parliament, with more residential areas and a more bustling feel. I prefer Pest, but both have plenty to show – round every turn there’s a beautiful building, statue, feature… You could stay here and wander round for months and you’d still not see it all.
I hop back on the bus up to the Citadel (serious hillage otherwise) but end my hopping there. I sit and take in the view before walking back down to the river and over the bridge to the Grand Market Hall. From here it’s back down Vaci Utca, running the gauntlet between restaurant touts, Mango and Zara… I do well, but as the heaven open on my arrival outside Hard Rock Cafe, it’d be rude not to. And at £2.33 a pint – yes that’s £2.33 – why not?!
So tonight’s plan, subject to what time the guys finish at the track, is to meet up around 9 and head for Romkert (an open air club, let’s hope the rain stops!)