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Hop on - hop off

Budapest, Hungary

A walk round the old town taking in the Vienna Gate and views of the surrounding Buda Hills before catching the Hop on Hop Off Bus from the Palace about 300 metres from our hotel. A great way to get our bearings and have an idea of what we might want to return to to explore in more depth later in the week. The bus dropped (well it felt like it though it followed the road) down to the embankment and then climbed to the Citadel, past the striking Liberty statue that dominates the sky line before descending to cross the Elizabeth Bridge from Buda to Pest. Turning left along the embankment up to the beautiful Parliament Building before doubling back and taking Andressy Ut we passed the Opera and Liszt's house. Everywhere little squares with statues of famous Hungarians and impressive buildings with late 19th century facades, ornate iron worked grilling to windows and balconies. Our first 'hop off' was at 'Heroes Square' at the western end of Andrassy Ut in Pest and the entrance to the City Park complete with its own castle, zoo and thermal baths. We stopped for lunch in the park and then took the next bus to reach the Pest embankment for a boat trip to Margaret Island. Once underway the guide told us that they couldn't go to the Island due to extensive bridge work there but they would drop us off at the nearest point Bathyanay Ter. We eventually discovered the pick up point for the next Hop On (they aren't marked you just have to hope that other people are waiting too or someone selling tickets for the Tours spots you and points you to the exact pick up point!). One stop later we Hopped Off into the middle of the Bridge Works. And how did the chickens cross the four lanes of traffic plus 2 tram lines? Well they tried the sensible way first but couldn't find the right exit in the underpass and then they negotiated several pedestrian crossings before reaching the other side. A short walk along the Margaret Bridge and then on to the island. Halfway along the island Rick's pedometer gave out just after gasping '14,000 steps' – he said it was the batteries; I think it died of exhaustion!! It's a beautiful park with ruins of Fransiscan and Dominican churches (one the final resting place of Margaret the daughter of King Bela IV); a huge water park with slides, pools and trick fountains; two thermal spas and a Japanese and a Rose Garden. An hour or so and one gorgeous and very reasonable ice cream later we retraced our steps to the entrance at Margaret Bridge. You can hire bikes, or beach buggies on the island, there are several cafes and stands; 2 Wcs (100HUF entrance – standard in Budapest) and along the main path lots of drinking fountains – very handy in temperatures in the high 20s. Despite much time with TomTom, Rick's homing pigeon senses have not grown weak and with map in hand we negotiated the back streets to find our way back to the Castle district and home. The route took up us a stone staircase to the Vienna Gate – a fairly long climb of about 300 feet from top to bottom. Doesn't sound much but the backs of my legs are telling me it was! A long drink, rest and shower before heading out for our evening meal. Hungarian Beef Strips with Peppers for Rick and Pork Tenderloin Strips with Blue cheese and Vegetables for me all washed down with local draught beer – great. Looks like another hot day tomorrow. Maybe a trip to the Buda Hills on the cog railway followed by a dip in the thermal baths at Gellart.

permalink written by  rickandsuejohnson on May 30, 2011 from Budapest, Hungary
from the travel blog: Hungary anyone?
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Sounds a really lovely place and what a load of walking! Still it means that you'll need lots of ice creams and other treats to give you energy!!
All well at home xxxx

permalink written by  Zoe on May 31, 2011

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