Day 2 in Budapest is over and I’m going to keep in short and sweet (maybe) because we were out for a solid 12 hours today and I am EXHAUSTED! The good thing about Budapest is most stuff is pretty close together so you can walk between places. The bad thing is its very easy to get lost and the bus stops are nearly impossible to find!
We started off by doing half the route on the hop on hop of bus. These buses can normally be relied on to be an accessible mode of transport and normally give a disability discount. Neither is true in Budapest! The bus also only runs from 10-2 in the winter so it’s not hugely useful, but still good for seeing the city and finding out a bit as you go.
When we got off the bus we went to the Great Synagogue where we had a short guided tour of the building (I got in free and the whole place was accessible minus one step which was no problem) on the sight there’s also a holocaust memorial in the shape of a weeping willow, and a Raoul Wallenberg memorial. The whole place was fascinating and beautiful and I particularly enjoyed seeing how the Synagogue took influences both from a Catholic Church and moorish designs. The lady giving the tour to just us was extremely engaging and although the museum attached wasn’t particularly interesting the Synagogue and memorials, plus a mass grave of 3000 mainly unnamed Jews who died in the ghetto during the Holocaust were incredible.
After that we walked to the great Market Hall. Downstairs is full of delicious cakes, fresh vegetables and meat, whilst upstairs sells an assortment of Budapest tat to waste money on and take home. We couldn’t find a lift so were just getting prepared to do the (pretty huge) escalator when a lady came up to us to lead us to the lift in the other corner. The market was a nice calm experience compared to the last market I visited (morocco) and no one ever pushed us to purchase anything. Consequently we’ve all come home with loads of Budapest crap!
We then wandered down Vaci Utca which is one of the main shopping/tourist streets to try and find some food (which we didn’t manage until 3pm) but at that time of day at that end it’s not really that interesting and there’s a 3x mark up on all the food.
We then got insanely lost trying to find a bus stop to get home and I got pretty close to a melt down, we decided there probably wasn’t time to go back to the flat before we went for the boat tour included with the bus ticket so we went to the other end of Vaci Utca which was more lovely and plyed me with cake, amazing hot chocolate and morphine. We then went to an ice bar where you dress up like penguins due to Katy’s massive obsession with penguins. When I say ice bar that really over sells the place. Imagine a fridge. Now imagine that fridge with a few penguin shaped blocks of ice. Now imagine that with some sugary non alcoholic cocktails (which they failed to mention when we payed to enter) to be fair it was absolutely hilarious – although I do mean hilariously shit.
Finally we went on the boat tour, where we saw all the beautiful buildings lit up in the dark.
When we got off the boat we tried to find the bus to get home, which resulted in a 15 minute tour around the most inaccessible streets of Pest. Health and safety doesn’t seem high on the list here so we had to cross a trench on wooden planks and wheel down the road where a bus driver beeped us. Finally I plucked up the courage to ask a couple at the bus stop where the bus in the other direction went from only to find out that bus 15 only goes in one direction. Which. Is. Ridiculous. Anyway, the couple we asked told us the best thing would be to walk and then offered to walk us back to our apartment. I can’t believe that they were so kind to do that as I’m not sure that was near where they were going, but when we were on our last legs (wheels) being able to get home in 10 minutes without having to stop at every street corner to check the map and still getting lost was hugely appreciated. Thank you Zoly and Orsi!
The biggest thing I’ve learnt today is that Hungarians are absolutely lovely, everyone has been extremely helpful but without being over the top, annoying, obtrusive or presumptuous. The country has fairly good accessibility on the streets but most shops have a large step up to them. The exception to this is most major intersections which have underground crossings. Public transport is probably about 50% accessible but people will help you on and off the ones that aren’t, including the bus drivers.
Ok so that wasn’t short at all, there’s just so much to say about this great city!