Day Three. Rub a dub dub

 Deanna and Nastassia somehow got lost going to the supermarket, and the day was already starting to be a hot one, while Jan took care of the map for the day. We somehow left the apartment a full hour later than we planned, but all was good in good company.

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Deciding to go over a bridge that we hadn’t crossed yet, Nastassia kept an eye out for cops while Jan and Deanna tested their spidey-skills and climbed on up. We took a little hike up to the Liberty Statue, which is the only statue left in the city dating from the communist occupation. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city covered the statue in a white sheet for 3 days, and the exact same statue was then unveiled as a new one. Pretty views, fresh air, good breeze, the climb was a fairly easy one –  apart from sweating like mad because of the extreme heat.

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We took a quick 20 minute breather at the top of the climb to enjoy the views, take some pictures and get in some quick sketching before returning from the open skies and fresh air back down to the city to enjoy a quick cool lunch at our flat.

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Coming down the other side of a hill there’s a small cascading water fall that’s a pleasant surprise, and provides a refreshing mist in the hot July heat. Definitely worth locating and checking out if you ever find yourself wandering through Budapest.

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After our lunch, we decided to check out the Széchenyi Thermal Baths that everyone praises. To be honest, we thought a 40 degree pool might be too hot on such a sunny day, and yet the baths are amazingly refreshing and really help to cool you down. We had a lot of fun with Jan’s waterproof camera, and spent quite a bit of time in the water. Lather up the sunscreen, kiddies!

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The baths close around 7, and by the time we made it back to our apartment, it was getting a little later. Deciding to call it an early night because of light sunburns and a full day in the sun, we cooked ourselves some rice and cutlets. Rest, relaxation and a little bit of lotion to cure the sunburns is on the agenda for tonight. Jó étvágyat!

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Day Two. Don’t touch little girl’s knees

Waking up in Budapest bright and early for a full day of wandering around and exploring the city. A fairly light and easy morning, aside from Nastassia doing an interesting taste test after adding 3 spoons of salt to her coffee, we got ourselves ready and out the door by 10 am.

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We began with a free guided walking tour that leads through the high points of both Buda and Pest. After a quick Hungarian pronunciation lesson, BudaPESHT, we also were made to rub a little princess’ knees for luck. Crossing the Chain Bridge over to the Buda side, we passed into an area contributing an entirely different feel to the city.

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The day was a scorcher, but our lovely tour guide assured us that the tap water was extremely clean and fully drinkable, so we were saved from thirst or overpriced bottles of water by the convenient water fountains located all throughout the city. Climbing up to castle hill, which our guide mentioned wasn’t really a hill and also contains no castles, all three of us were charmed by the custom made Hungarian roofing tiles found atop the Matthias Church. Apparently fire resistant, self-cleaning, acid resistant, and water resistant as well, they are a Hungarian invention, proudly kept secret from all other manufacturers. If you want them for your home, you’re going to have to order directly from the Hungarian artisans.

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Done with the tour and not with the rubbing, we all looped back the way we came from to get a second look at some highlights. This pot-bellied police officer is here only to help you find a good meal, in exchange for rubbing his belly and mustache.

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St. Stephens basilica is just down the road from this officer, and is the largest church to be found in Budapest. Formerly containing the whole right arm of St. Stephen, it now contains only the fist…or most of it, after some good old Christian relic-sharing. It also contains the burial places of several kings and queens, and a particular football star from the mid-1900s who helped break a 90 year British winning streak. Hungary is apparently no longer such a forerunner for football, and this is now an even touchier subject than their political history. As well, a curious note – this was formerly St. Stephen‘s church, but when the pope rolled on by, he made a side comment of what a lovely basilica Budapest had. No one argues with the pope, and so the church is now renamed.

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Stopping at a smaller vendor for a quick bite, some goulash soup and an enormous slice of pizza sets you back 950 HUF, or 4-5 CAD. Not too shabby! Escaping the heat by dipping our feet in a refreshing public pool – under which a club dubbed ‘Aquarium‘ is located (which we may be returning to later…) – we wrapped up our touristy part of the afternoon.

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Handling the more serious, we stopped one of the train stations to book our tickets on our overnight train to our next location. This was supposed to be a quick jaunt, but turned into an hour long endeavor where our tickets for the international train in the capital of Hungary in a big major train station were hand-written by the woman at the cash. Warding off a few questions about whether we were having issues, we finally got the tickets and went merrily on our way to enjoy the rest of our day in Budapest.

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Going for a lovely night walk, we found langos, a traditional Hungarian dish, and then washed it down with a few drinks found at their outdoor vendors. Tequila sunrises and Mojito‘s before bedtime? Can‘t say no to that!

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Day One. Hungry in Hungary

BUDAPEST! All made it safe and sound. More or less. With varying degrees of difficulty.
Deanna flew in from Canad-EH yesterday morning, Jan had a nice and breezy flight from Beerland(Germany) today, and Nastassia had a lovely time learning the Polish train system for over 24 hours. Who said that 191 km shouldn’t take 6 hours! So Deanna and Jan got a little bonding time in and some lunch while Nastassia watched the landscape sail by…or, you know, the Polish railroad workers.

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But all on location at around 5 and ready to take both Buda and Pest by storm! 30 degrees and sunny, sweating from every pore, after dropping things off at our flat we went in search for food. And as is typical in these situations, walked around aimlessly for half an hour before eating basically at the starting point. GYROS. Yum.

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Budapest is crazy pretty, and the first impression is definitely a winner. But for tonight, a movie, time adjustment and a beer is in order.

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VISZLÁT!