We had to take one train from Banska Bystrica to another village, then we had an 8 minute connection time. We were a few minutes late arriving, and we had to run to catch our next train, but we made it just in time. So far, so good. The next train was right at the border of Hungary and it was a long distance train that had left Prague and was headed for Budapest.
This is the local train that we made just in time. It was full and we had to stand for around half of the hour long trip.
But then we had to wait. Originally, we were supposed to have a one hour and ten minute wait between trains anyhow, but just after we got there the screen came up with a 25 minute delay. Oh well. Nothing to do but wait. Then, it changed to 35 minutes delay. Eventually, it did show up, and then it sat on the platform for another ten minutes. Oh well.
Ruth, being funny while we're waiting.
We arrived at Budapest's Keleti Train Station at around 3:30pm, almost an hour late. We had arranged to meet our contact from Budapest Tourism at 4:00pm so we had to rush out of the busy station and into a city that we had never been to and try and make our way to our hotel.
We were lucky that we went into a private "info" place in the train station and just when they weren't that busy. They gave us a small map of the central core and pointed us in the right direction. I was only in there for a couple of minutes and by the time we left the place was packed!
So it's somewhere around 31C (88F) and we do the 2.8 km (1.7 mile) walk in about 25 minutes so we're all hot and sweaty when we get there.
Check in was great! Gergo, from Budapest Tourism was there waiting for us, and Tunde, the receptionist offered us a cold drink while she took our passport information. We went up to our room and freshened up a bit before heading back down to speak with Gergo.
Our room at The Casati Budapest Hotel is very cool and modern...but we'll tell you more about that in another post!
We sat with Gergo Sas from Budapest Tourism and figured out our options for the next four days. Thanks for meeting with us during your holidays Gergo!
By the time we finished up with Gergo, it was getting close to dinner. There were five different "cheap and delicious" options listed in some of the paperwork he gave us, and we found that one of them was very close by. Found a bank machine (ATM) and got some Hungarian money. They use their own currency here, the forint. There are approximately 223 forints to one dollar, so the denominations of the bills are quite large. In fact, the bank machine spit out a 20,000 forint note, which is worth about $90.
Went for dinner and it was fine. I really enjoyed mine, a chicken pasta dish, while Ruth said her grilled chicken and rice and peas was a bit plain but it was fine. Including a beer and a glass of wine and the tip, the total was 2,825 forints ($12.71). However, this is a big touristy city, and you can tell just from walking around that you could easily spend a lot of money if you wished. In fact, Gergo mentioned one area of restaurants he said to avoid simply because they are geared towards tourists and their money. English seems to be widely spoken here, in fact it's the most English we've heard since leaving Prague six weeks ago!
And then we went and wandered around the central area at night. We are lucky to be staying in the downtown area because we don't often go out at night and I can see us wandering around in the evenings with no problem at all.
Beautifully lit up at night.
Buda Castle is huge!
You have to check out this video! Turn up your volume, because this guy was really good!...
Lots of people out and about on a beautiful summer evening. The patios and outdoor restaurants were busy and the people were just out enjoying the evening. We enjoyed it too...it's fun just sitting and people watching for a while.
Can't wait to tell you more about Budapest...we've got a busy four days ahead of us and from first impressions, I think we're going to like this city!