Ok so we’ve left the AmaViola and Adventures by Disney. We’re now on the second leg of our journey! I planned the entire thing for the most part. Having consulted mum and dad on a few of our excursions, I was in charge of accommodations and transportation.
We are starting off our journey still in Budapest. Having checked into the Marriott, we hit the ground running. We started by catching the Hop on Hop Off bus tour. It was a little tricky finding the pick up spot closest to us, but we managed to track it down eventually. We took the bus over to Buda to check out Buda Castle. Budapest is a city divided in two by the Danube River; Buda and Pest.
Jumping off the tour bus at the bottom of Castle Hill, there are a few options getting yourself to the top to Buda Castle. First, and probably the most popular/congested, is the funicular. Having seen the queue for the funicular long before arriving at the bus stop, we sussed out alternatives. You can walk up the pathways and staircases if you’re young a fit. But I had my parents with me, so we opted for the other option. There are shuttles that take you up and down Castle Hill. For a small fee, you purchase tickets direct from the driver. It takes a little longer, maybe 20 minutes, but it still beats waiting for the funicular. But here’s a little insider tip: skip the funicular going up, but take it coming down. There are zero people waiting at the top to come down Castle Hill. We walked right on when we finished our leisurely tour of the area.
We chose to jump off the shuttle at the furthest point from the funicular. We could tour the area and make our way back that way. Our arrival point was at the Museum of Military History. It was early in the morning and it was fairly quiet on top of Castle Hill. Either things hadn’t opened yet, or this was a less popular area. Walking to the fortifications, we could see the entire city of Buda. This is on the backside of Castle Hill, so opposite the Danube River.
Leaving the museum we stopped to take some photos of the The Magdelene Tower, or Buda Tower. You can climb the 170 stairs to the top, but it’s a separate fee. We really didn’t care to pay it as we knew we could get the same views of Pest and the Danube from Matthias Church. We wandered along the city streets. There aren’t too many shops along the road we were on, but we did manage to find an old antique store. After having a quick look inside, we were now at the busiest spot in the entire area; Matthias Church. And for good reason…it is stunning. The queue for getting inside the church was very long, and we didn’t really have all day. So we opted to miss the interior and get some fantastic shots of the exterior and the surrounding views of the city. It was a beautiful day! The sun was out and it was fairly mild.
As I mentioned before, we took the funicular down the hillside. Instead of catching the bus, we decided to walk across Chain Bridge. It’s right there, so why not? Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone bridge built that connected Buda and Pest. Having made it back to Pest, Dad said he was feeling unwell and opted to go back to the hotel. Mum and I jumped back on the bus and decided to ride the entire tour. Daylight was fading fast and we were getting hungry. We hopped off at St. Stephen’s Basilica. We knew there was a Christmas Market here and we had yet to see it! This place was busy! But it was the peak dinner hour. Needless to say we zipped through here and we were able to maneuver the streets of Pest to get ourselves back to the hotel.
Mum and I grabbed a few goodies from the market we had previously been to the day before and then went back to the hotel for dinner. We had a full day here in the city tomorrow before grabbing the night train into Krakow. I had booked us a spot at the Cafe Gerbeaud before we left Budapest.
The next day we had a late lie in before grabbing some lunch. We showed dad the markets we had seen and did some shopping. Our time in the city was coming to an end, so we made our way to Cafe Gerbeaud. Now if you’re visiting Budapest I highly recommend stopping in here for coffee and desserts. It is the most beautiful patisserie I have ever stepped foot in, and the desserts are beyond amazing. This place is busy busy, so do make a reservation! Otherwise you may be waiting a while to be seated.
Well our time in this beautiful city has come to an end. We killed an hour at the hotel waiting to be taken to the train station. I was excited for the overnight train. I had never been on one before (a train yes, but not overnight). The train station in Budapest looked so pretty from the outside. But don’t let that fool you. It’s an absolute dump on the inside. And getting information from the help desk is not helpful at all. Here’s a tip: grab food before getting to the station because there is literally nothing to eat in there. We ran to the grocery store across the street to pick up, well just about anything at this point, so we wouldn’t starve on the train.
Thankfully we weren’t at the station long before our train arrived and we were being situated in our cabins. Mum and I roomed together and dad was just a few doors down in a single cabin. The conductor scared mum by telling her not to go to the bathroom during the night because gypsies get on the train sometimes and blah blah. So every time she had to pee, she woke me up. Argh! Other than that, the trip was very smooth. The rocking of the train lulled me to sleep fairly quickly. The little beds were decent and very clean. Just don’t expect the Ritz ok? It’s uber tiny and no personal washrooms. You have to use the one washroom at the end of the hall.
Anyways, that concludes our time in Budapest. I could have easily spent a few more days exploring that city. I absolutely loved it. But our adventure continues!
Stay tuned for New Years Eve in Krakow and a solemn visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Until next time…