Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
Trip End Oct 15, 2012

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Where I stayed
Star Inn
What I did
St Istvan's Basilica, Great Market Hall and Szechenyl Baths

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Up around 0620 for the morning ablutions, heading down for brekkie with Arjan at 0700, Don joining us shortly thereafter. It was a nice buffet. The chocolate eclair-type croissant was a bit hit as was the pate in the little container. The coffee was not bad either.

Emirates Airlines was down for brekkie, the yapping starting on cue. An insincere hug and she was history.

We are keeping the same room which is one headache resolved for the day. Some are going to the baths earlier in the day but Arjan thought it would be more relaxing at day's end.
Walked with Don and Arjan to the Parliament Building to try to get tickets for today. Arjan was happy as free for EU members. Signed up for the 1430 tour, getting a ticket for Nathalie as well 3,500 HF.

Short jaunt to get the laundry 900 HF with Arjan and Nathalie. Rachel was the subject of many jokes re tuning up her broom stick. I have to remind Nathalie that Arjan pretends to be more politically correct than me with his humour but not so! Nathalie noted the laundry was not folded as nice, etc as in Prague.

A flexible schedule today. We went to the Opera House as Nathalie wanted to see if she could get tickets. Arjan the puppy dog would go just to accompany her on the Saturday premiere but I was disinclined, especially if one had to do the tuxedo route. Relented for the Sunday night.

It was then a question of where. First row balcony was further away but the perspective would be better so there we will be Sunday night 9,500 HF.

Arjan had not brought any shirts with a collar so that became a priority. We walked to the Great Market Hall, passing two new bridges en route. Everything else in God's green earth was for sale there but dress shirts.

Passing through a couple of pedestrian malls, a shirt was found for all of less than 5 euros but it looked like it needed ironing. I suggested we three and Don each grab a corner and let Rosie roll over it to flatten it out.

A quick lunch at Bistro Brio followed for some sustenance, the skies threatening rain but nil of note falling. The temperatures are quite nice, be it upper teens or lower twenties C.

Easy walk to the Parliament Buildings, Don in line. Nathalie will thereafter go shopping. Don will join us at the baths. I suggested the best route was as the crow flies, getting Rosie to crash through buildings to clear a path, resulting in the usual impish visage of Arjan and embarrassed shyness from Nathalie and Don. There was much discussion as to when a certain Canadian would start snoring during the opera.

The Parliament Builings were quite splendid. Built in 1896, the main staircase has 96 stairs; the height of the dome, 96 metres. The actual tour was just over a half hour after all the security drivel was done.

The main staircase would be walked by visiting dignitaries [and low life tourists too]. There is ample gold leaf and columned interiors. The crown jewels--including the crown used to bequeath title to every Hungarian king--were on display in the main rotunda. That area was surrounded by statues of the most prominent monarchs, including Maria Theresa [of Austrian fame earlier in the trip], the only female ruler of Hungary.

Arjan was annoyed there were alot of non-English speaking people on this English tour, paying little attention to the commentary. I was annoyed at people incessantly taking pix of themselves everywhere. When one dumb Asian bitch realized she was walking into my picture, I 'Rachelized' her with a glower.

Arjan and I walked to the baths whereas Don was going to use his 'hop on, hop off' pass, the youngest of the lot taking the easy way. It was probably the better part of 40M and by this time our feet were not happy.

Don was not at the appointed spot in Heroes' Square so we eventually headed to the Szechenyl Baths where the locals go. It was confusing until we saw a price list in English, Arjan suggesting if it was just a swimming pool he was out of there. Seeing a second day for less than a euro more and the fact we'd gone so far, we got the weekend package with a change room [bashful these Dutch]. I got both tickets and Arjan can pay me back down the road in another country re meals and drinks.

The place is of faded glory but massive pools greeted us, including one area that whisks you around in circles, at times hard to not run into people. I scoped out the thermal pools and the saunas inside.

I related to Arjan how North Americans just laugh at older Europeans' swimming attire. There are guys in skimpy swimsuits with big guts; gals, fat everywhere but in their bikinis, one set of old bags quickly grabbing canes on exiting a pool.

Don was spotted on the other side of the complex by Arjan so we were able to enjoy the facilities as the Three Amigo for about half the time.

The pool Don was found in was a nice 37C. We went inside and found a 38C thermal pool. The one sauna was tried was 70C minimum, the floor actually of greater concern re heat than the sauna. It was a good way to end the touring day.

Decided to take the metro back, a stop very close to the baths. Some dork was getting nowhere on the ticket machine so I suggested we board, hoping for a machine thereon or just claim dumbness if a ticket inspector was around [some of the group were actually checked twice re metro tickets]. We managed to survive 5 stops, getting off at Octagon for the 10M walk back.

Gave Don some local coin [in compensation for the Tatranska Lomnica rum and coke] so he could have a bite before boarding his overnight train to Munich.

We saw an Intrepid sign that our guide was in Zurich! No meeting tonight and no tour tomorrow morning. Upstairs, there was a note on the door re a meeting at Karcsi restaurant. Natalie raced in to advise 2 of the new 6 were not here either but the other 4 were at the restaurant. Linda had bagged us earlier re tonight but Jan and Ria joined for the final dinner.

John and Gavin are ex-Aussie military traveling together. They will be partiers and boozers. Ian and Jill are from Melbourne. They will be rather quiet.

Had the goulash soup which was fine but not nearly so filling as advertised by the Dutchman. Passed on dessert. Tried a Dreher beer: not great but better than Soproni. I feel, Roddy, I may be reaching my beer limit but maybe a day's respite therefrom might do the trick. Besides, a day away might not give my your beer belly, Trav! Service was not great and many things were not on the menu but what the hell 1,450 HF.

The Aussie guys were going out for a drink but the others returned to the hotel by c 2100. Got a quick diary and blog done for the day before and bed by 2200, needing some sleep.
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