Back on the road/rails again and heading to Eindhoven airport (1 hour, 40 minutes from the Hague). It was pouring when we left but not too cold. Everyone is damp and rather looking forward to the WARM and DRY weather forecasted in Budapest. In fact it is supposed to hit 90 degrees so we may complain about the heat.
And we did struggle with the heat but luckily the lovely apartment we rented was air conditioned. We stayed at this place: http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/p413820
The owner, Sophie is delightful young lady and emails quickly or chats by phone prior to arriving plus arranged for a car to meet us at the airport and then her sister gave us a ride back to the airport.
She was waiting at the apartment and showed us around and provided good tips on where to go for everything. The apartment is directly across the street from the Municipal Museum and 5 minute walk to the metro and trams. It was also only a 10 minute walk to the big market hall and river. It was also close to the Vacci road which is a pedestrian street full of restaurants and shops. So highly recommend contacting her.
We all fell in love with Budapest (pesht) as it is full of amazing architecture, the people were friendly, prices relatively low(er), and was not jam packed with tourists. It is a busy city but we at least felt there were more locals than tourists here!
Food was good but heavy. Lots of meat and of course goulash. This comes either as soup or a thicker stew. Both are heavy on the lovely smoky and rich paprika and delicious. The markets have some lovely Hungarian paprika for sale – go to a local market rather than the old looking powder in tourist shops. We did get stopped going back though as we had it in a carry-on (Ryan Air again) and it took 3 Hungarian security people to figure out if it was OK or not to have this big bag of powder. The two men were leaning toward no when the woman came over and shouted at them both and handed it to me saying “OK.” Guess she cooks!
The architecture is really neat but some of the buildings show decay. Somehow this is more quaint than run down. They were filming a Bruce Willis action movie in the city and we were told many are made there if they are pretending it is Russia because Russian buildings have been modernized too much. So it seems Budapest still reflects Communist era architecture more still.
Major highlights were the zoo, spa, and the opera house. The zoo had all the normal animals naturally but some of the buildings such as the elephant house are lovely and were built by famous architects (Eiffel one of them) in the 1800s.
We spent a few hot hours looking around and then went across the street to the Szechenyi Baths (spa) which is one of the largest in Europe. Budapest is the city of spas and there are lots to choose from but this one was large, had three open air pools (cooler), was co-ed and you have to wear bathing suits, http://www.szechenyibath.com/ Once we worked out the system of paying and a changing cabin plus got our rental towels it was lots of fun and we had a relaxing afternoon. Max was also happy to see many local men playing chess which is a big game in this area. He is a chess lover (takes multiple classes in the US) so got to carefully choose a new board and pieces, which he is treasuring.