A Travellerspoint blog

Hungarian Culture - Last day in Budapest

sunny 37 °C

Awoke to another warm one. Had a good workout in the gym and then to breakfast; by which time most "cruisers" had left for the first tour of the day. We didn't partake as we have been here 3 days already. The gym is very good, clearly the average age of the passengers is such that it doesn't get much use.

Our fellow travellers

Our fellow travellers

Enjoyed the last lot of shopping before a nice lunch onboard. Still have a few thousand Dracmas (Florint) which is about $1.50 Aus.

Walked up to the Fisherman's Bastian on one of the hills overlooking Buda and whilst it was still 36 degrees it was worth the view. Buda is significantly different from the other side, mainly accommodation.

Budapest from the Buda side

Budapest from the Buda side

Found a place to put in our lotto, thank god because it was due next week.

I hope my numbers come in.....

I hope my numbers come in.....

Our farewell from Hungry coincided with the Captains Dinner. Didn't see him thankfully and I am presuming here that he was on the bridge.

Dinners are really professional, small quantities and very well presented. Staff really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.

the goddess at dinner

the goddess at dinner

Dinner entertainment tonight included a local Hungarian Folk dancing group. Known as the Hungarian Goulashes, it surprised me that they used bagpipes.

Number 1 on the Hungarian MTV Charts

Number 1 on the Hungarian MTV Charts

The oldies loved it. I worked on my blog and Mandy was looking for the exit. It didn't sound any better after 2 x gins but the costumes were very intricate.

They asked for volunteers to join in the dancing, so I immediately suggested that Mandy show them how it's done in Tassie. Good move.....not she's only just starting to talk to me again and its 2330.

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Posted by mandt0413 14:28 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Budapest Day 3

sunny 37 °C

Another early wake up and walk before the heat of the day sets in. Already 34 degrees and today they are expecting it to top 37. Researched and went to the local ATM as we have run out of Euro buying shoes. The local currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) and they start in the 1,000's. 1,000 HUF is roughly $4.20 so its better to use Euro because things sound cheaper..... Found an ATM and then it was off to the Gellert Spa for a mineral bath. A real adventure getting in and the locals sure are serious about bathing. Not like the Bay and Basin Leisure Centre at all. Four pools and everyone was watching us.

The Gellert Spa Pools - Part of a hotel complex

The Gellert Spa Pools - Part of a hotel complex

Swimming Pools with a difference

Swimming Pools with a difference

The place even had a wave pool but likely nobody had ever seen a real wave, let alone the nature of Oz.

Mandy got us into trouble with the swimming police (apparently you must swim around in a circle not do laps; Mandy can only do laps and fast which compared to the locals is equivalent to a gold medal performance) then she got us into further strife because we weren't wearing caps.

Tony and the Swimming Pool Police

Tony and the Swimming Pool Police

Go figure, apparently at the indoor pools you have to wear a cap in the pool. At least we now know why they were staring at us. I understand that the caps stop headlice from getting into the pool. Charming. Anyway they are really big into star wars over here, its apparently number one hit at the moment. Heath, you would love this place.

A lovely breakfast at the Intercontinental lounge, Mandy got lucky with a conceirge....steady on, who knew what a poached egg was. Oh joy oh bliss, the egg was indeed hard, not runny and poached not boiled. Budapest you will forever remain in my memory.

Tried to contact the kids by Skype without success, we're missing them it's hard to believe but true.

Next best thing went shopping for them and I got another pair of shoes.......Mandy scored some too. Sorry Ellie you are going to have to share. Love Budapest even though it's still a little dated.

Can honestly say that we enjoyed Budapest. The old side is Buda and the newer side Pest which mandy thinks more suits my demeanour at present.

We joined the cruise in the late afternoon and I shit you not, I've scored the youngest tourist onboard. My feeling is that the average is age is 65 and by far and away Mandy and I are already the standouts. We're sitting in the lounge at 10pm working on our laptops and its almost as if we've got the plague. Perfect for us, we get to share a table for 2, we're still awake at 3pm and at dinner there is no drool coming from our mouths. Can't wait for the entertainment.....at least the gym will be free of users.

Seriously, well I was serious. The ship (can't bring myself to call it a boat) is superb. Very luxurious and I'm glad that we paid for the suite. The vessel is only 12 months old and it shows.

Suite number 316 on MV Panorama

Suite number 316 on MV Panorama

Mandy back at sea at last

Mandy back at sea at last

A place to hang the washing

A place to hang the washing

Lot's of room for us, in a private area, great attention to detail and the facility is wonderful.

We had a table for 2 at dinner which suits us perfectly. The dinner was beautiful and the staff very attentive.

Off to bed, tomorrow we are going to walk to Pest and do some more shopping. Do a gym workout and relax.

last day tomorrow in Budapest and we've really enjoyed ourselves.

Posted by mandt0413 13:35 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Trying some new things in Budapest

sunny 36 °C

We decided to take a late night walk from the hotel to look over the lights and take advantage of the cool evening air. There were lots of people out doing the same and it was very safe. The local points of interest are all lit up each night and it is very impressive.

The local lights

The local lights

We arranged for an early wake up call at 6AM to go walking and decided maybe 7AM was a better idea. Well, in fairness we are on holidays. Walked up to Gellert Hill which overlooks Budapest which served as an outpost and fortress for Buda Castle in the early 1800's. About a 13km round trip and at 8AM it was already 34 degrees. No wonder we haven't put on any weight.

Looking at Gellert Hill from our room

Looking at Gellert Hill from our room

The hill peaks at the top of the statue.

Looking back over Budapest

Looking back over Budapest

Went via a few bridges and looked back over the Danube River.

The Danube looking back toward the Intercontinential

The Danube looking back toward the Intercontinential

Also visited the site at this spot which the Nazi's used during WW2 for their HQ. Lots of military stuff but limited time for us. The trip us was confusing with lots of different paths, I wanted the quickest way down so consulted a map. Mandy nearly broke a leg to get the camera from me.

Tripod

Tripod

Pick the idiot aussie

Pick the idiot aussie

Returned to the Hotel (have to say, this is one of the best that we've stayed in and we've been to some beauties) breakfast was great. Healthy and plenty of it. The staff in the Executive Lounge try so hard to please. The pronounciation of their names is very difficult because the Hungarian language is heavily reliant on "c's" and "z's". I suggested to Mandy and I have already adopted that they are all named Bruce.

Mandy as always (Jeff and Pam will appreciate this) likes only poached eggs but they must not be runny. She is very particular about this and it's probably the only thing in life that she is particular about (note, she married and is still with me, so she ain't too particular; but with poached eggs this is a different story). So, she asked for poached eggs, the waiter showed her the hard boiled eggs. Mandy then proceeded to explain how to cook a poached egg, including the time, contents and temperature. Sure, he understood and Mandy was very pleased with herself. I was happy to have the scrambled eggs (Pam you know I'm easy to please and Peckish cook the best anyway). So Mandy's eggs arrived and they were the best hard boiled eggs that I've ever seen. Marginally better than the biological bastards in Italy. Mandy not wanting to be rude cut the first one open and, you guessed it, the thing was runny. I had scrambled eggs plus 2 hard boiled eggs because Mandy didn't want to offend the staff. No more eggs for me this trip, thanks heaps.

Onto another walk, this time to visit the House of Terror. This is the site of the Headquarters of the secret police under the Facist regime and Nazi's during WW2. It is now a museum dedicated to those who lost their lives during these times. Harsh periods, without a doubt and it reminded me a lot about our War Memorial. Heavy stuff and it can be viewed on www.terrorhaza.hu

Number 60 Andrassy Avenue

Number 60 Andrassy Avenue

Lot's of walking; I suggested that its maybe time to have a foot massage. Mandy nearly broke a leg to get back to the hotel to make a booking. And so off we went to the Gellert Spa Baths and the Siam Center (sic) Thai Massage. The Thai Foot Massage cost 13,000 Hungarian Forint or in Ozwold dollars $56.00 for the both of us. Pure bliss for me, more counselling for the young lady. The Gellert Spa Baths are another site for us tomorrow on our walk, they are natural springs and will walk here for the experience. Love the sign.

Gellert Spa Baths - Tony's version

Gellert Spa Baths - Tony's version

real version, must look up the Hungarian translation.

The real sign

The real sign

Off to do some more shopping, our favourite past time and the reason that we work. Shoes are well priced and aiming to buy Ellie some that she will really appreciate. Some really good spots.

Shopping Budapest Style

Shopping Budapest Style

And then it was to the "new" things in Budapest and my life. Had a cuppa at one of the local haunts....what was the owner thinking!

For lunch....hope we're still here for dinner.

For lunch....hope we're still here for dinner.

The Executive Lounge has one of the best outlooks and is one of the best lounges that we've visited.

Intercontinental Budapest Executive Lounge

Intercontinental Budapest Executive Lounge

Mandy and I take turns to get the "snacks", more like a meal and I just adored the round thingees. Mandy, kind little possum that she is got me 3 helpings and I scoffed each of them. It's been ages since I've had some meat; sick of the veggie stuff.

Whilst I consider myself to be quite well travelled and accustomed to the differences in this great world of ours, even I was surprised at Mandy's revelation that the thingees are Hungarian Goats Nuts.

Mandy's time will come.

Enough of this stuff, off to dinner and I found the perfect place.

Dinner couldn't be worse than lunch and pre-dinner snacks

Dinner couldn't be worse than lunch and pre-dinner snacks

Tomorrow another walk and swim at the natural springs, shopping for Mandy and Ellie then a late check out to meet the ship after 4pm. Love Budapest and might be back.

Budapest - clean, safe but friggin hot

Budapest - clean, safe but friggin hot

Posted by mandt0413 10:38 Archived in Hungary Tagged is it warm shit Comments (0)

It's taken me 2,914.1 weeks to find the best happy hour

Read on and I'll explain, it's been a long day

sunny 37 °C

And into the ex Eastern Bloc countries that we've journeyed. Awoke to another Continental Breakfast (shit give me a steak already or a biological egg at least) and a great one liner from the goddess of my life. " the houses are so, how can I explain it, so totally European over here".

Whilst readers may think this a bit extreme for Mandy, let me say my best is yet to come for me... I left a rail ticket at home.

Apparently this is nearly a capital crime over here and comparable to shooting a koala bear in Oz. To cut a long story short, it appears that I left the ticket in the photocopier (if anyone finds it please let me know) Mandy said - and you know she is nearly always right, I told you to check that you have everything.

It's so totally European

It's so totally European

We got off in Austria at a place called Wein Melding to transfer trains to Budapest. The station was exactly the opposite to Rome (it had smoking points, no dogs and an announcement system that could be understood) best of all, we knew early what platform and when the train would leave. Typical efficiency aside (the train connection was 37 minutes late, note 37 not 30 or 38) and this alone made NSW Rail look good in comparison. We connected (nan behave) at exactly 37 minutes later with our first class seat.

My turn of sentry duty. I look more casual than Mandy.

My turn of sentry duty. I look more casual than Mandy.

And so to the situation of the missing ticket. I had insisted that as we had a copy, it would be cool as. Correct on the Austria side when the conductor clicked it. The copy that I had was colour had the coach number and seats and was numerically the next number to the previous one that got us f......here. My staff know where I'm coming from here and can probably see where I'm heading.

No not good enough for the Eastern Bloc bozo with his electronic scanner and work experience daughter. It's not scanning so lets call security and grill the idiot Aussie.

After a little bit of discussion, he calls security. Fortunately security is a little more intelligent; he understands Oz just so good. It will cost you $39 Euro each, conductor not scanning correctly. I say, punch the numbers in bozo and he says, no understand. Great we are both clear, so up I cough with the $39 Euro (each) and the wrath of Mandy. The wrath is worth than the money.

We arrived in Budapest just after 1pm and shit it is hot (again pretty rich coming from someone who lived most of their life in North Queensland). Copped a cab to our hotel as my fuse was not conducive to walking the distance with suitcases and uneven streets. Again can I point out that Shoalhaven is indeed very lucky to have quality footpaths.

We have a suite overlooking the Danube at the Intercontinental. Lucky that I joined the Intercontinental Ambassador Club a few years back as this gives us an upgrade to a suite, club access and other privilages.

Intercontinental Budapest

Intercontinental Budapest

The rest of the room

The rest of the room

Things are definitely looking up as this hotel advertises itself as one of the 511 best hotels in Europe ( I suspect that it is number 511).

And so to my point about the happy hour. Most hotel club access facilities have a happy hour with courtesy food and drinks in the club area between 6 and 8pm ( I know work out the hour). The Intercontinental has a happy hour for food between 6 and 8 but free booze until 10pm. It's currently 2145 and we are enjoying ourselves. Talk about the best happy hour ever......

The hotel overlooks the Danube and the famous Chain Bridge. We are waiting for the night display when the city really lights up. Our room is on the 7th floor overlooking the river and the city sights. After a much needed gym work out and a few drinks we are about to have a night walk. This city is certainly more safe than Rome and there are lots of tourists out walking.

The club (why are we the only ones in this area) overlooks the best part of Budapest apparently.

Mandy and the Chain Bridge

Mandy and the Chain Bridge

Tomorrow we will meet with the ship's representatives, an early walk to the Fishermans Bastian and visit the House of Terror. A long day but a great happy hour. The local beer is called Dreher and it's pretty good.
bĂșcsĂș (Hungarian for good bye)

Posted by mandt0413 12:32 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Rome Final Day-More shopping last pizza & Train to Budapest

Farewell Villa Duse - If we come back to Rome Accommodation will be easy

sunny 36 °C

Awoke to another beautiful day, it will be 36 degrees today and the days seem to be very long. Sun up around 6am and sets well after 9pm without any daylight saving.

Today we relaxed until checkout time at 1200 or thereabouts, had a continental breakfast (the spinach tart is fabulous) Pam and Tanya you would really appreciate how good it is. You know that my favourite breakfast is scrambled eggs but I couldn't bring myself to have any eggs in Italy as they call them "biological eggs". Not quite sure what this means and I'm not about to find out. I mean Mandy and I used biological eggs when we had the kids.....

Mandy had time to sit and do her nails before a shopping expedition.

Nails day, seems so long since Singapore

Nails day, seems so long since Singapore

We'll leave our bags at the hotel and catch a bus into the shops for a last look at silk ties and leather. Mandy is keen on buying some more outfits and shoes. Our train to Wien Meidling (train station for Vienna) leaves at 7pm from the Rome Termini. We've visited the Termini previously just to make sure that our bearings are right. The train platform is apparently not announced until 10 minutes before departure. Crazy, can't believe it and with over 30 platforms plus with our limited language skills (Mandy's part of ship and responsibility) we don't want to miss it. Have a sleeper on the overnight train and due to arrive at 0830 tomorrow morning.

Visited one of the many shopping Piazza near to the central district between the Colosseum and the Termini Rail Station. Silk ties for $2 euro. Mandy and I both got some leather shoes and mandy a few more outfits. I also got a pair of jeans and smart casual pants.

Had a nice lunch at a sidewalk cafe and I couldn't help having a last pizza. Tyson would appreciate the pizza's but be disappointed that the toppings aren't plentiful. These are the real ones son.

The last supper, pizza style

The last supper, pizza style

Can't get over just how good the wine is, we had a glass of white pinot and it was magical. (sorry should say, soft tannin and a hint of acidity with a taste of berry)

A glass of wine with pizza

A glass of wine with pizza

Back to the Villa Duse to collect our bags and head for the Rail Termini. Lucky for us the bus to the city stops right outside our hotel as with the bags and the heat.......lucky we're used to the heat (those of us that are Queenslander's anyway)

A tasmanian in Italy

A tasmanian in Italy

The train station is consistent with the rest of Italy - organised confusion with a lot of smokers. Lung cancer must be big on the "over and out" scale in terms of deaths - followed closely by road accidents.

Ashtray outside the carriage window

Ashtray outside the carriage window

Travelling by train is obviously big in this part of the world. Couldn't believe the amount of people who actually have their pets travelling with them on the train. I asked the conductor about dog shi.. and got a quizzical look. It's fair to say that Mandy is tiring of my sarcasm with the locals and the goobahs (lots of them around, she'll soon come to understand me).

I'm wearing thin on her and its only the 9th day

I'm wearing thin on her and its only the 9th day

Pets and the rail, you're kidding. Although we have a first class sleeper the next level down shares six in close confines. I would last 5 minutes in there with a dog or a cat. Could hear a cat as we got on and it was not a happy pussy.

A dog, its owner and the train......what happens when the dog has to go?

A dog, its owner and the train......what happens when the dog has to go?

I mentioned before about the Rome Termini and its organised chaos, well add to that the threat of pick pockets, beggars trying to fleece you and gypsies trying to con you. There is a difference between fleece and con. The key is to keep an eye on your belongings and coping with the Italian rail network. For example they issue the platform of departure 10 minutes before it leaves. 26 platforms, crowds and threats plus the fricking dogs trying to eat you......and you have to get onboard with 3 items of luggage.

Mandy was the appointed sentry of the luggage on my casting vote (nobody f...'s with her not even the gypsies hey kids).

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Whilst I continued my odyssey against the travelling dogs (and their owners)

Is that a sausage dog in her hands

Is that a sausage dog in her hands

The train left on time and our room was big enough only for a cat. e.g. to swing therein. Bunk beds but very soft furnishings and comfortable. It is better than econ where you get to share with the pets and unwashed masses.

Still it's bigger than some ships that I've served on

Still it's bigger than some ships that I've served on

Dinner was pretty good and the steward whilst hard to understand (or maybe its us) was very pleasant.

A continental breakfast for dinner

A continental breakfast for dinner

After a few quiet ones, it was off to sleep. Have to say although the high temperature forced Mandy into my bunk.......Nan believe me its true. We slept pretty well. As the temperature cooled, I kicked Mandy out to her own top bunk (I have a fear of heights) and for the rest of the night it was pretty good. Better sleep than Singapore to London at 4 times the price.

Posted by mandt0413 11:25 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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