December, 05th Tuesday

The time for departing to Budapest at last arrived, five days of mini holidays. Some friends of ours who loved travelling like us were our travel mates this time. Their names: Maximo, Maribel and their seven years old daughter Celia. Departed from home at 10:00, reaching Malaga at 11:30. Our car was left in the accostumed parking, from where by van, we were taken to the airport. After meeting with our friends there, our check-in was performed without delay, unlike the pass through the security check which was tedious, slow and with long queues. Once this control was passed the embarking zone and a restaurant where we ate some food were waiting for us; the day was clear and chilly. After sitting on our seats and made ourselves comfortable to face a 03:15 hours trip,  listening to some music and ttaking some notes were the only tasks that made my trip faster. Our plane was completely full. Taking off was at 14:30 and landing at 17:30, absolutely no daylight in Budapest at that time...

In the airplane bound to Budapest

At 18:30 and with our luggage with us, we met our contact in this city, the person taking us to the appartement, holding a notice with our name at the airport. But first a stop at their office was made to pay our bills. The temperature was decreasing, two or three degrees Celsius more or less. After paying our bills the guy in charge gave us the keys (three) and some basic rules to use the house. The first key opened the main building door, the second one was for an iron gate at the very entrance of the appointment and the third one was for the apartment door itself. It was a little tricky to open the two first doors; on the contrary the third one could be easily opened. Our luggage was taken up to the first floor, where our place was. The block had five stories with a courtyard at the centre. The apartment was surprisingly big, two baths, three bedrooms, kitchen, a sitting-room with a 50 inches plasma TV set and high ceilings. After leaving all our stuff we went out to do some shopping. There was a Spar fifteen metres far from where we bought all the necessary. Then strolled the city center including the Opera among other emblematic buildings.

Restaurant "Pesti Disznó Bistró" facade

Dinner time approached. A nearby restaurant called "Pesti Disznó Bistró" was our pick. Artichokes soup and cheese fondue soothed my empty stomach. Our comfortable beds were waiting after dinner.


December, 06th Wednesday


Like the previous day, the temperature promised to be very low. Breakfast at the apartment at about 08:30. Our first day in the capital of Hungary started at about 09:30. And it was a nice beginning: The Hungarian Parliament for which we had previously booked via internet. The other place with appointment made via internet was the "New York cafe" that very Wednesday afternoon, at 15:30. 10:00 was the time to be at the English tour for the Parliament. It was the second biggest building of that kind in Europe; its doors were open for tourists, so we took advantage of that circumstance to visit it. A huge and garish place both inside and outside. It was one of the best recognizable buildings at the banks of the Danube.

Parliament front view

Our visit took around an hour, at around 11:00 we finished admiring this smart building; then a long and pleasant stroll along the river Danube to the "Chains Bridge" took place, passing by a curious monument called the "Shoes Monument" which commemorates the shooting of 20.000 jews at the Danube banks by the Hungarian party members named the "Arrow cross party" with fascist ideals very similar to the nazis.

 

Shoes monument at the bank of the Danube

Lunch time was approaching and our pick was an Italian restaurant called "TG Italiano" very close to the St. Stephen's Basilica. Pizza and tomato soup soothed my hunger. When our lunch was over the Dohany Street Synagogue was our next stop the second biggest in the world. Worth mentioning is that its architecture is based on islamic models, like the Alhambra of Granada, and from North Africa. On the way to the synagogue, the temperature was so low that we stopped to drink hot beverages. I had a cup of hot wine with spices, very popular in the cold winters of this part of Europe; my body got warm very fast. It was nearly 15:30; we had a reservation at the "New York café" at that time. It was not difficult to find it with the help of Google-maps. This stabhishment is part of the Boscolo hotel; the cafe is well-known by itself independent of the great hotel, though many people forget about this connection; for many people is the most beautiful cafe in the world; you deserve a craving from time to time... It was built in 1895 and its golden years were the years between the two world wars, when Budapest possibly was the most important cultural centre of all Central Europe. It was without doubt the most expensive place to have a coffee in the country. It had rather a royal palace decoration than a cafe decoration, it's this aspect where lay its charm. I enjoyed an exquisite "New York chocolate Cake". We even had the chance to listen to live classical music.

Inside of the New York cafe

When this nice experience was over, our apartment was waiting for us after a fifteen minutes stroll. For there was no food for breakfast, we bought some products in a couple of supermarkets of the zone. Once in the apartment, Mariana and I went for a night walk to the Danube crossing the Andrassy Avenue up to the Chains Bridge.

Chains Bridge night picture

In our return we bought some beers we previously forgot to buy. Back in the apartment at 20:00 after a two hours stroll.

 


December, 07th Thursday


The weather was still cloudy threating with rain, though it was wet so far. Breakfast "at home", starting our touristic route at 09:15 bound to the Danube river again. The majestic Chains Bridge was crossed with plans to go up to the Fisherman's Bastion. We intended to take the funicular which took you up to the very Bastion but we were approached by some youngsters offering us a bus for the same price than the funicular with the advantage of getting off and in as desired and needed for a proper visit of the Bastion; the price was six euros per person.

Marta, Mariana and me at the Chains Bridge

Once up, the views to Budapest, the Parliament and the Danube river were spectacular. The Saint Mathews Church was also astonishing. Our visit to this church took about an hour and a half. Another interesting place was a Hospital embedded in a rock, a Second World War subterranean hospital-museum also active in the Hungarian Revolution. It expands around 2300 square meters, under the Buda Castle. It was crowded with wax figures representing surgery operations, treatments, amputations and other misfortunes originated at the front of the siege that Budapest suffered in 1944-1945 by the Red Army. Later on, during the Cold War was a nuclear shelter.

Fisher's Bastion


For lunchtime was close, the visit to this hospital was postponed after our meal. "Kcsi Csangó" was a self-service restaurant located in a lower area than the Hospital-Museum, after going down a never-ending stairs which had to be climbed up again after lunch. It was definitely the best restaurant of our trip, both in food quality and price. Besides, it had the typical ambient of locals, far from the tourisitc bars and restaurants which we always try to avoid. As stated before, it was a self-service stablishment. that's to say, you were served the food you chose on your tray as you slowly advanced along the expositors to eat it subsequently on any available table.

Kicsi Csángó's menu

After lunch the worst part was yet to come: climbing up the stairs back to visit the Hospital-Museum. Maximo and I were the only ones who entered this place, taking our tour around one hour. We were warned at the main entrance that although what we were about to see were just wax figures, the scenes that they represented were not suitable for children. We made then to the Hilton hotel to take some hot drinks to counteract the low temperature effects outside. Then, when we were done at the hotel we returned to Pest. the "modern" part of the city where our apartment was located, after crossing the Danube through the "Chains Bridge". There was no day-light though it was around 17:00 hours, as accostumed in this country. For there were still many hours left before going to bed we thought about strolling the main commercial street, ''Andrassy Utca" as a good option. Many important commercial firms could be found in this never-ending street, beeing one of the most attractive for me a shoe-shop where a highly attractive national footwear was sold. The firm we are talking about was called "DRK" a sport and casual shoe brand focused on shoes for extreme temperatures. After such a long stroll we felt like resting for a while, so we entered a small bar to have some drinks. It was such a nice and quiet place that we were tempted to stay there for dinner. We made to another place to eat though. After an hour and a half searching a self-service "Gastland Bistro Oktogon" was our pick. The typical Hungarian food could be tried there. It was a good experience generally speaking. Our apartment was not far from that self-service and after a fifteen minutes walk we finally reached it.


December, 08th Friday
Our day  started at 10:00 A.M. after breakfast with the "Great Synagogue" in our mind. It was the second biggest synagogue in the world after the one called Congregation Emanu-El of New York. It was located in Dohany street and built between 1854 and 1859. You were not allowed to enter without a hat or a cap on your head, normally the typical small jewish cap.

Inside the Great Sinagogue

There was a long get fast queue
at the entrance. Once this visit was over our next aim was the "Central Market". It was a two -stories  magnificent building with a roofed central yard where you could buy all kind of fresh food, typical hungarian clothes, spices, souvenirs and of course many small bars to eat standing with not much room for to be comfortable. Just to avoid this lack of room we entered the only restaurant where you could eat on a chair. It was a self- service, where you choose your food from some vitrines and you were serviced by a waiter on your tray. The name of the restaurant was "Fakanal Etterem". Once our lunch was over we made to the underground; on our way to the tube I realised that I forget my cap and I had to return to the restaurant to retrieve it. Kalvin Ter was our first station and we got off at "Vörösmarty Utca".

 

Inner view of the Central Market of Budapest

As an interesting remark it's worth mentioning that the Budapest tube is, along with London, the two eldest undergrounds in the world. Once at "Vörösmarty Utca" we walked to the "House of Terror" (Terror Haza), a kind of Communism museum where the repressive and brutal interrogation methods (tortures, executions, interrogation skills, etc, etc) used by the hungarian communists and fascists again the regime enemies. Maximo and I were the only one who entered this museum for  unfriendly stuff for children was shown in this place. Our wifes and doughters went to a commercial center. Just when stepping out of the place, the rain began to fall. Despite of not being a heavy rain, our women were completely soaked when they reached our apartment. Maximo and I got home one hour before they did with plans to go out for dinner later on. We all stayed in for we sat back and relaxed in such a way that our dinner was at home. Mariana left for some shopping near our place. After a shower, it was time to deal with our lugagge, we were leaving the following day

 


December, 09th Saturday
Cloudy Saturday morning in Budapest. We woke up at 06:00. After breakfast we got ready to be picked up at 07:00 AM by the shuttle bound to the airport. Our transport delayed seven minutes, at about 07:07 AM we were on our way to the plane that should take us back to Spain. We stopped for some minutes at the office of the apartment owner to handle the keys of the house. A fast check-in at the airport, where we arrived at 07:40. Passing through the security arc was not so smooth though, long queues to reach the "safe" boarding area. The boarding area turned out to be a stroll to the open air before reaching our plane with 0°C. Once in the plane 12 °C or 13°C was the temperature expected in our destination, Málaga. It was a real paradise compared to Budapest, of course bearing in mind only the temperature...