We had a great time in Budapest, got back 23rd December. Highlights for us where The Nutcracker, performed by the Hungarian National Ballet Company at the State Opera House. Fantastic performance in a fantastic building. For anyone interested in seeing either Opera or Ballet, tickets start at less than £1.00 (300HUF) and can be booked on http://www.opera.hu/
Other highlights included Fisherman's Bastion, The Royal Palace and the Castle District in general. Coffee and cake at Gerbaud's in Vorosmarty Ter. St Stephen's Basilica was wonderful. We didn't do as much as we would have liked, but got chance to do some nice walks past the Parliament (free tour if you take your passport and are from the EC) along the Danube. And from the Royal Palace, across the Chain Bridge to Vaci Utca and the wonderful shops. If you're after souveniers (I always like to take home some tat like fridge magnets etc from wherever I go), we found them at the Castle District by Fisherman's Bastion.
I was a little worried about getting ripped off, but was fine. A shop did try and rip me off (gave in a 2,000 HUF note for a spend of 280HUF and only got the change of a 500 HUF note - asked for the rest of my change and was then given another 1,000 HUF - asked again for ALL of my change and was given the other 500HUF). Just be aware of the money, and take your time when getting your change to check it's correct. It is a bit difficult at first, but by the end of the first day, I was quite used to the money. Never got ripped off in a restaurant, but took the advise from Coininban of only eating where there are menus on the tables and pointing to the price of what you're ordering - Cheers Coininban!
We are already planning our next visit and plan to do the spa baths and get to Statue Park (the one with the old communist statues in) next time!
We used a private taxi transfer which was excellent. There was someone waiting for us in 'arrivals' holding a card with our name on. On our return he arrived at the hotel to collect us at the right time. I booked through http://www.hotelonlinehungary.com (click on 'airport pickup') the costs were 10,000 HUF (£30.00) RETURN for a taxi taking 1-4 people and 20,000 HUF (£60.00) RETURN taking 5-8 people. You don't pay anything up front - you pay the driver that collects you at the airport the fist half, then the driver that collects you from your hotel the other half.
Dan - enjoy your visit on 29th!
I stayed at the Tamas apartments in May last year and found them basic but fine. Tamas sent a driver to pick us from the airport (included in the price) and arranged return transport to the airport too. It's reasonably located, about 10 mins from nearest tram stop and you can see out onto the Danube from the balcony. Definitely the cheapest option i found for staying in budapest.
Just got back on the 25th and had a whale of a time. Highlights were the view from the Fishermens Bastion at night ( be careful of the homeless people, some of them sleep there at night, they're not menacing or anything but you may trip over them by mistake!). The Castle Labyrinth was fun, very scary in places. We were given two plans of the labyrinth, one was completely diferent to the other and at a certain place neither bore any resemblance to the actual layout of the labyrinth so we got a bit lost. The last part is very funny when you realise what's going on!
St. Stevens Basillica is a must see, it's fabulous inside. Be careful as you come through the entrance, there's a pay booth there but that's only for if you want to see the 'Treasury', entry to the Basillica is free.
On a more sober note the Museum of terror is an eye-opener, it tells the story of what happened to the Hungarian people when they were invaded by the Nazis and then the Communists. It's pretty gruesome and quite sobering when you realise that the opression of the Hungarians ended only 15 years ago. Tip, hire a tape machine to take you through the exhibition, it's very hard to take in just by reading the leaflets.
The indoor market is weird, dozens and dozens of stalls all selling the same meats and sausages or the same fruit and veg, how can they make a living?! Upstairs there's some lovely food stalls with very tasty dishes, I don't know what I ate but it was delicious! The large cafe/restaurant up there with the automatic doors does a mean Goulash soup at a very reasonable price.
Favourite bar was 'Darkness', just around the corner from the hotel (NH Budapest, really nice btw) cheap, very friendly staff and big helpings of food. I'd reccommend it.
One thing I noticed about Budapest was the fact that the pavements weren't spotted with chewing gum and people actually used the outdoor ashtrays to put out their fags, a lesson the British would do well to learn!
Transport-wise, if you use the numbers 2, 2a, 4 and 6 trams, the blue and red line metros and the Buda castle bus (from the No.6 tram terminus in Buda) you can get to virtually every attraction there is within minutes of anywhere in the city centre.
Have a great time when you go out there, but remember... the Friday flights out to Budapest are full of lager-louts
Btw, the people out there are delighted if you can say one or two words of Hungarian. Tip, Thanks is kÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¶szÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¶nÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¶m, pronounced as curse-urn-erm!
Glad to see you had a great time in Budapest and was pleased with your hotel, the NH (I recommended it to you)!
Did you use the pre-booked taxi transfer service?
They're offering 3 nights (for the dates I looked at, 20-23 March) for £17 per room per night B&B, £31prpn Half board and £42prpn Full Board.
Ya just cannat gan wrang man!!!!
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