The third leg of our journey was to Budapest, Hungary.
Day 6 : Saturday 30th – Day 7 : Sunday 31st May
The mini bus approached the Serbia Hungary boarder. Surely a border crossing should be straight forward and quick, right? Wrong. We pulled up, sat there for a few minutes then the driver took all our passports, got out and handed them to the border guard. He took them into his hut and examined them for a while.
After a few minutes he came on to the bus and handed them back, studying our faces while he did so. There seemed to be an issue with some of the passengers who had to go into the hut. Finally they got back on board and we drove to the Hungarian border control.
There was nobody about, it was like a ghost town. Finally after 5 minutes or more a guard came over, we all got off the bus and entered a building for passport control. After this we waited a little longer and eventually got back on the bus and drove into Hungary!
The travel pillow wasn’t as comfortable as I’d hoped and sleeping wasn’t easy. It started to rain and visibility didn’t look good. I think we were all pretty much asleep until suddenly we were awoken by the bus skidding along the road, my heart was racing and my life flashed before my eyes!! Luckily the bus came to a stop. The driver got out, walked around the bus, then without saying anything got back in and drove off.
We stopped for a toilet break, Keith asked what had happened, the driver said ‘Bambi’! So he must have hit a deer!
It was around 4am when we finally arrived in Budapest, luckily we were the first stop!
First impressions of Hotel City Swing weren’t good, the man on reception was pretty grumpy. We checked in and went straight to bed.
Day 7 : Sunday 31st May
The stress of travelling, all the walking and lack of sleep was getting to us a little so we had planned this as a chill-out day so headed to one of Budapest’s natural spring water spas.
There was a tram stop outside the hotel. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anywhere to buy tickets. Being new to Budapest we didn’t want to risk not getting one so ended up walking towards the metro station. Although throughout our stay in Budapest we hardly saw anyone validating tickets we thought it best to buy them anyway to avoid any potential fines.
After a quick bite from McDonald’s we headed towards the spa.
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is located close Széchenyi fürdő Metro station.
The day started off cloudy but the forecast was sun later on. So after a quick dip in the lower temperature outdoor pool (about 20 something°C) we had a look at what was on offer inside. Went in a sauna and a steam room, there were more pools inside but the sun was out now so to make the most of the sunny weather we spent most of the time outdoors.
The second outdoor pool was very hot, around 38°C.
Keith wanted a massage, there were a couple of different types on offer. The problem was you couldn’t pay in the massage rooms, you had to pay at the cash desk on the way in. This meant you had to get dressed, go out of the spa through the turn style and would have to pay again to get in! So you can’t be spontaneous and decide you want a massage, it has to be preplanned. Seemed like too much of a chore and paying twice wasn’t appealing so we gave up. Now some of this may have been lost in translation but if not it’s a stupid system.
I love Ikea but not enough to wear the jeans!
A friend back home saw I’d checked into somewhere in Budapest on facebook and recommended a bar to get food and drinks. Szimpla Kert is one of Budapest’s ruin bars. Ruin bars are bars created in the ruins of abandoned buildings.
The bar was pretty cool. Random objects decorating it everywhere. There are quite a few bars in the venue, some specializing in craft beers, cocktails etc. There is a grill outside and a kitchen upstairs for more pub style food. We went upstairs, the guys got burgers and I got the vegetarian burger which was grilled gomolya (a Hungarian cheese), it was really nice.
We stayed in this bar until the early hours having a few drinks and shisha, its was busy for a Sunday night, the music was good/random, the atmosphere was good, lots of people from different countries, lots of pretty girls, unfortunately a few stag parties from the UK which lowered a tone slightly but all in all a great experience.
Day 8 : Monday 1st June
Organising travel and accommodation instead of enjoying the place we were in was getting a bit tedious. Today was no exception as usual we had to pack all our stuff up and check out of the hotel. The man on the reception let us store our luggage, he was a little more cheerful than the night guy.
The first task of the day was to sort out the evenings travel to Austria. In the tourist information office we enquired about train travel. They told us which station to go to but advised we book sooner rather than later so off we headed to Keleti station. It was a bit of a trek. We had no idea where to go when we got to the station, there were self service ticket machines, we had a go but Austria wasn’t an option.
There was an information office so asked them, they pointed us in the direction of the international journeys ticket office. Unfortunately there was a ‘grab a ticket and wait ages until it’s called system’.
Once called; buying the tickets was easy, we were off to Vienna at 9pm. A 2hr43 minute journey.
Outside the station we got in a taxi and headed for Buda old town, the taxi had a panoramic roof which was pretty cool!
We explored and walked around all day, taking in most of the old buildings and tourist sites. Weirdly we couldn’t seem to find any central area of shops or a high street, though we did find a shopping mall.
All I wanted was a small flag sticker, patch or magnet. It seemed a difficult task, none of the souvenir stall or shops had what I wanted, all the small flags were in the shape of the country, I just wanted a flag shape!!! In the end I had to make do with a slightly larger flag on a pole.
Although Keith had done an online transfer to his Clarity credit card it obviously hadn’t gone through yet as he couldn’t draw any more money out yet.
Near the hotel we found a nice café, had a rest, ate some food and made the most of the free wifi before it was time to collect our luggage and head to the station.
The hotel ordered us a taxi, we arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare so found a small convenience store and proceeded to spend our remaining currency on stuff we didn’t need or want like in Belgrade. By now Jon had about 20 Milka chocolate bars!!
8.45 we got on the train, found our compartment and chilled out while the train pulled out of the station. Next stop Vienna…..