Monday, August 29, 2016

Off to Budapest! The journey continues...Day 5, May 30, 2016

Today Alex and I leave Salzburg for Budapest! Our river cruise will be departing from there, so that's our next stop! We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and our driver, Michael, was right on time. He picked us up at 9 am, and we had about a 5 hour drive to go. We thought about taking a train, but decided that by the time we took taxis from the hotel to the train station, took the train, and then another taxi from the train station to our hotel in Budapest, that door to door service of a driver would work out much better. Especially since we had luggage with us! 

It was a cloudy and somewhat rainy morning, so spending it in the car was just as well! Our driver was great. He talked just enough. He told us some great history and interesting stories about his life growing up in Czechoslovakia before it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He told us about life under communist rule and how times were different when you couldn't just drive from one country to the other. Crossing the border from Hungary to Austria could cost you your life! 

We stopped at a couple of rest stops and and lookout stops. Again, some beautiful views, even in the rain!


The five hour drive went quickly, and we arrived in Budapest before we knew it! Michael dropped us off at our hotel and off we went...Alex and I got settled in and went to the restaurant in the hotel for lunch. We noticed right away that Hungarian food was definitely different from the food we had just gotten used to in Austria!  But we both found something we liked.  I had spaetzel with sausage and he had a meat and cheese platter.  Both were delicious. We enjoyed our lunch as the rain was pouring down outside!

We went back to our room for a few minutes to let the rain stop - this hotel was quite lovely.  It was a brand new Ritz Carlton. 

And before we knew it, the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day!  We went outside and wandered around a bit. We were a bit overwhelmed coming from quaint Salzburg to this hustle and bustle.  Budapest definitely is a big city and we were in the thick of it!  This is a fountain in a park right across from our hotel.

We found the Big Bus Hop on Hop off and decided that would be the best way to jump in and see just what this city has to offer! 

We were able to do about half of the loop before the bus was done for the day.  These are some of the sights we got to see!

This is the Royal's now home to the National Library, National Gallery and History Museum. It was the first Royal Residence on Castle Hill built in the 13th Century.

This is the Chain Bridge, the first permanent stone bridge connecting Pest and Buda.  The legend is that the lions do not have tongues, but in fact they do....however, they can only be seen from above.

This is the Liberty Statue on Gellert Hill. It was erected in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary of Nazi forces in 1947. It commemorates those who sacrificed their lives.

We'll have more pictures of this spot later, but this is the Fisherman's Bastion. 

Our first real good glimpse of the Parliament Building.  It is the world's third largest Parliament Building, and it's really just beautiful!

Some more views from the bus ride...

We got back to our hotel, and it was at this point in our trip, that Alex and I met up with our two fellow travelers! We would be sharing our river cruise experience with my friend, Alycen and her mom.  They had spent their pre-cruise days in Vienna and arrived in Budapest today as well. It was pretty exciting to see one another and get to share this experience!  So, we got back to the hotel and finally got together! 

It was about time for dinner by now, so off we went...We found a place not too far from our hotel and managed to find something that we all would eat. Alex and I realized that Hungarian food may be a bit out of our comfort zone. But we were good with Goulash, meat and cheese, things such as that. I ordered a goulash dish, but the waiter seemed to think I should try something else. I think I would have preferred the goulash, as Alycen's mom got that and it was much better than mine! In the end, everything was good, and Alycen even got to help cook!

That's quite a pepper mill isn't it?

Some more wonderful spices!

Our hotel at night...

After dinner we took Alycen's mom, Katie, back to the hotel and then the three of us went down to the river for an evening cruise on the Danube. Here are a few pictures as we walked down to the river.

The cruise took us up the river and back so we could see all of the buildings all lit up at night.  It was very pretty!

After the boat ride, we walked back to the hotel...and off to bed. It was a long, long day! But we definitely got a feel for this very eclectic city! We have a busy day planned for tomorrow!

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