We headed further East across another unmanned border. No passports to show or insurance certificates required, just some empty buildings and not an official in sight. We are now in HUNGARY eager and apprehensive. We have no idea where we can camp and it seems logical to us to press on and head for the big City of Budapest an easy segway into Hungary. We know there is a population approaching 10 million people, but the villages we pass and the amount of traffic on the road doesn’t attest to that……until we hit the outskirts of Budapest….at peak hour and the traffic builds steadily until …oh bugger and sat nav took us straight through the middle with cars, trucks, motorbikes and shed loads of pedestrians everywhere. We found a little campsite just 15 minutes from the centre. It was a disused end of the line tram station. The owner, a man of advancing years shall we say, spoke pretty good English ( a damn site better than my Hungarian) and got us a spot to park then invited us into the bar for a complimentary welcome drink. All very civilized. His lady wife of a similar vintage encouraged us to order dinner (Ghoulash) lol all very predicatable but we thought we’d knock that one off the list quickly. It was actually pretty good washed down with a bottle of Hungarian red wine, which was also pretty good..We had a 5 minute walk to the nearest bus stop and for a couple of bucks, took the short ride slap bang into the middle of a very buzzing City……Wow first impressions of the place were very Cosmopolitan with no initial feelings of a depressed ex Communist, wrong side of the iron curtain repressive State, Amanda wasn’t quite as positive initially then loved it by days end. After a quick look at the City maps and making our selves aware this City is basically disected by the Danube River. BUDA is the hilly side and PEST the flat side and both are connected by the 19th Century chain bridge. Unlike most Cities these days there are only a couple of bridges crossing the Danube within sight and as always, my wife wants to see AS MUCH as possible. I don’t risk wearing anything fancy for footwear, just a pretty grubby pair of hiking shoes for fear of another 20k walk around Cities. I was proven right again….WE saw lots and lots and lots in Both BUDA and PEST and was Amanda happy ?…..oh yeah with lots of oohs and aaahs.there’s a funicular which runs up to the Old Town of Buda and did we catch it ? Not a chance, I had my old shoes on remember . The City has a population approaching 1.8 million so it’s humming.It’s the 10th most populous City in the EU…..and it will obviously take a step up now that Blighty has decided to opt out. After having the benefit of travelling around all these Countries so freely and seeing how well a lot are doing, I am not convinced that’s necessarily a good thing. But I haven’t lived in UK for 40 years so what do I know. From the top you get a great view across the Danube and back across Pest. The buildings are all very well presented and clearly a place on a lot of peoples must do destinations. Below is a pic of Heroes Square featuring local Hungarian heroes, leaders and the Tomb of the unknown soldier .Our lunch stop was in a lovely square in front of St Stephens Basilica in Pest. Built in the late 18th Century and named after the first King of Hungary. The Catholic faith is well represented here and I wonder after the Communists took over, how well it survived given the Communist need to control everything and as the Church was a centre of power, I am surprised the Grand churches are still standing in such beautiful condition. I’m agnostic ( most days haha ) and whilst I don’t practice any religion, it does give me great pleasure admiring these buildings………how many times upon visiting these churches have we read that so and so has been buried here or someone’s heart is supposedly buried here…….well this one’s no different….King Stephen has his mit supposedly buried here……..just one hand? Seems a bit cheap somehow! Amanda gliding down the steps of Fishermans Bastion around Matthias Church. It is only a hundred and twenty years old but it’s very impressive……and a tad disney like, in a good way. The views are very nice.More statues and monuments below, up by Matthias church in Buda..Afternoon coffee was to be taken at the New York Palace which is the most beautiful cafe in Budapest. After WW2 it fell into disrepair and became a sporting goods shop and in the mid 50’s it was reopened and then in 2006 in was restored to what you see in the pic below. We even had a string quartet playing followed by a chap playing on a Grand Piano. All very gentile and the coffee was reasonably priced considering……..so we had a cold beer instead haha..Buda Castle below Below is the Vajdaunyad Castle….another fairytale moment for Amanda. It was initially made from cardboard and wood as a temporary attraction but due to it’s popularity it was later build in stone in 1904. It’s surrounded by the biggest park in Budapest...pic below outside St Stephens Basilica .in side St Stephens...Above is the Hungarian Houses of Parliament. Very impressive and sitting on the banks of the Danube.After a long day enjoying the City we found a spot to watch the England v Columbia world cup game….a very narrow win. Great atmosphere and a mild night. Prior to watching the match we had a traditional meal…….no we didn’t lol we went to the Itoshii Japanese Restaurant and great feed.loved Budapest !
Amanda here, On our way to Eger, of course lucifer the sat nav had to take us through the centre of Budapest, again ! naturally . Passenger was having a lovely time …Driver was doing splendid job as always .. I would be having kittens if I was driving !.Situated at the foot of the Bukk Mountains . After hectic days in cities it was time to settle down again in the country more or less and enjoy a slower pace for a few days.
Another great little spot for Pinot Another great town to explore..Coffee stops and a few wee wines along the way..lovely to see the inside of a deconsecrated church being used as an art gallery..A five minute walk from our campsite was The Valley of the beautiful women or as it is known to the locals … Szepasszony Volgy. I am sure Al Pal was keen to visit envisaging gorgeous ladies everywhere. We are in yet another wine region this time in North East Hungary. It was in fact home to over 200 wine caves and 50 or so cellars that were opened to the public for tasting etc Not your Barossa or Hunter Valley high tone (Australian Wine Regions) set up but a great area with rustic appeal. It was actually quiet the night we were there and later found that in town the annual Bulls Blood festival was on, music, food and of course the Bulls Blood (Egri Bikaver) a potent red wine which is a blend of several grape varieties .We had a fabulous night without the festival, sampled a few of the local varieties in different cellars with prices per glass ranging from 0.80 cents to one which was five dollars a glass , over priced here for sure. Sampled the local cheeses at one of the cellars-which were delicious .Had a day cycling to visit other areas . There are a lot of Thermal bath resorts in the area and wellness retreats which seem very popular with the locals. The pics below are at Salt Hill next to one of these resorts , it’s actually a white large mound of mineral rich waters that bubbles upwards from a concealed spring.Tiny compared to other places around the world where this occurs including the amazing Pamukkale in Turkey .baby grapes .Had a leisurely lunch in town one of the days at a great little restaurant , Macok down from the castle. Then it was time to go back to the ranch and watch the World Cup match England V Sweden. Well we actually watched it across the road ….the atmosphere was electric and the place was buzzing with only Al , myself and the owner ! Lol, we have not seen any English for weeks now so not surprised at this low key cellar we were the only ones there. Now this was really an authentic cellar which our lovely host showed me at half time . It was so cold and smelt awful . Rough and ready to say the least . Look at that moss ! He was very proud of his organic wine and guaranteed you would never get a headache drinking his. We drank, we tried and we didn’t get a headache.
After four nights around this area it was time once more to unplug the electric … cross check doors and windows .. seats in the upright position and we are clear for take off.
Until next time
Love to all xx