R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > Budapest
Christmas 2009, Budapest © R. Craig Collins, 2009
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To hotel, museum, and tour details
Useful Hungarian Phrases To Caboodle Dining Map To Caboodle Dining List
8:05am arrive AMS
10:00am to BUD
12:00pm arrive BUD
Get metro passes
Explore Liszt Square/Oktogon area
Bratislava Slovakia (w/ orangeways.com)
Rick Steve's walking tour
11:00-15:00 City Tour
Day tour of
Esztergom, Visegrád, and Szentendre
|31 Airport Transfer
8:00 to BUD
10:00 to FRA
11:40 arrive FRA
13:30 to IAH
5:50pm arrive IAH
7:00pm Baymont 1-45
return to Waco
Gracie turns 20
Blue lines indicate main Metro and Tram lines
View my Google Budapest map in a larger map
Travel Blog (planning details below)
Thursday, December 24
The morning was spent cleaning and packing while outside there was snow and wind.
4:00pm Hit the road, stopping at McDonald's, which we ate on the way.
7:00pm Arrive at the Baymont Inn hotel in Houston, I-45 near FM 1620. After switching rooms to 131, where we could park next to the room, we cranked up the heat and watched a bit of Mama Mia on the tube.
8:00pm, to El Imperial mexican restaurant for some fairly pedestrian food, but Christmas eve you take what you can find.
9:00pm, attended church at St. Dunstan's... an interesting diamond shaped church with no windows, but the brass and harp helped make the carols pretty neat.
10:30pm, back at the hotel for chocolates that were given as a present (with salt !?)
Watched a bit of Simon and Garfunkle, and Aretha Franklin on TV before turning in.
Friday, December 25
We slept in a bit, checked out, and had brunch at Denny's. Again, beggars can't be choosers, so we chose from the limited menu... Diane had a Fired sampler, Susann and Gracie had Slam and french toast, and I had a turkey sandwich. We had a bit of time to kill, se we went to CVS to get some last minute toiletries.
12:45pm checked in at PreFlight parking... they were jammed, we wound up be spotted in a turn around lane at the back... but the shuttle pick up was quick and we were on our way.
At Terminal E, the Kiosk let us check in, but did not have seat assignments for the second leg... on the 767 going to Amsterdam we had reserved the seats on the last row back in June. After clearing security (this was before the Amsterdam-Detroit bomb attempt) we had to pull out all electronics, not just computers, but we soon reassembled and found the gate. The girls passed the time on the computer or shopping for snacks.
3:00pm Boarded the 767 and got stowed. What a great entertainment system! Tons of on demand movies, TV shows, games, etc.
Dinner was Chicken Teriyaki and brownies, and we settled in for the 9 hour flight to Amsterdam.
Saturday, December 26
07:00 local time, we had croissants and melons for a light breakfast.
08:05-08:30, after landing we had a LONG taxi in to the gate.
We ran from our gate to C16... on the way we had a long line to clear security and passport control.
09:00 none of the kiosks would accept our Malev flight numbers, so we headed to the gate.
09:15, a KLM crew manned the gate and we go seats on row 4 of the 737...
09:30 Cattle call boarding
10:00-12:00, the Malev pilot flew like he was driving a sports car, and there were a few hooligan's that decided to move to first class, but it was an uneventful flight to Budapest.
12:10 After waiting a few minutes, the driver we had reserved showed up and we were off to the City Hotel. 20€ for the four of us in the VW van. We passed by the stadium on the way in, so I saw the bus station for our trip to Bratislava, and was able to pick up details as we entered the city center.
12:30 Arrive City Hotel. (More info on the Hotel)
No markings on the hotel, which was in basically an alley behind a giant hotel, but after checking in at the combo reception/kave (coffee) counter, we headed up to our room...34. It was a smallish apartment, with a small kitchen, dining area, sofa sleeper in the main room, and two twin beds in the 'hall,' as the girls called the narrow room behind. We noticed it seemed warm from the radiators.
The main room
12:30-14:30 Naps for the girls
15:00 Walked to Oktogon to buy 7 day metro passes (More info on the Metro passes)
From the wonderfully antique station (oldest line on the continent), we jumped on the Yellow line, and headed to Vörösmarty Square, sort of their Times Square. The Christmas fair was set up here... by the way, starts getting dark about 15:00 (3:00pm), and is DARK at 16:00 (4:00pm).
We strolled down to the Danube and had just a magnificent view of Buda, Gellért Hill, the bridges, and Buda Castle .
We checked out where our cruise would leave from the following night and headed back to the Christmas fair.
We headed back to Oktogon, and explored Liszt Square, and its pricey restaurants... we found a Kebob place nearby, and had gyros and Pizza, and of course the girl's favorite... orange Fanta. On the way back to the hotel we found a little green market, and picket up some snacks...
17:45 (5:45pm) we had milk, chocolate, and pumpkin (?) cookies... I tried to learn Magyar (Hungarian) but I admit we bought based on the picture on the label. We watched just a bit of EuroSport TV, and crashed.
Sunday, December 27
We all had trouble sleeping, it was so warm, but we felt a bit rested and gathered up for breakfast.
09:00 The lobby was laid out for breakfast, with ham, cheese, bread, cereal and juice.
10:00 Terror house. Former headquarters of the Nazi party, and later the Communist Police. The outside had a symbolic representation of the Iron Curtain, and an Overhang that would cast a shadow that said terror, to represent the shadow of terror Budapest faced from 1944 to 1989.
Very well done museum, but so sad and disturbing. Wonderful written history, toured the cells, offices, and exhibits. There was a tank on the ground floor, and pictures everywhere of all that had lost their lives in the fight.
12:00 California Coffee Co. for Ham and cheese baguettes, Fanta and Coffee for Susann.
13:00 Jumped on the newer, but less romantic Red Metro line, and walked to the Old Synagogue.
13:30, we headed to the Hungarian National Museum (more on the Museum). The second floor had items from the 11th century; wonderful armor, relics, as we worked our way toward the 20th Century. The 1st floor had a lot of prehistoric items, medieval lapidary, and the 1000 year old Coronation mantle. The basement contained a lot of Roman lapidary. Very nice history of the area. After getting souvenirs, we headed to the Metro, and the holocaust museum.
16:00 Holocaust Museum was profound, moving, and sad.
After the exhibits, we visited the Synagogue that included glass benches as a memorial.
17:30 Took the Blue metro to the Yellow, and headed to Vörösmarty Square. We stopped at one of the shops... it had a little kitchen where they made dough, the wrapped it around a wooden dowel. The dowel was then taken outside and cooked over burning embers, then dipped in cinnamon, or walnuts, etc. Called chimney bread, Kürtőskalács are heavenly!
18:30, we headed out on the Legenda, and glass enclosed tour boat. (More on the Cruise) Pictures of the boat from Legenda.hu
Buda Castle, and Vigado pier
On the cruise, there was a hokey recorded narration on the history of the Danube, but the sights were wonderful. We got hot tea, and and saw Gellért hill, Parliament, Buda Castle, the Elizabeth Bridge, Margaret Island, and the Chain Bridge... site of a chain across the Danube that forced boats to pay a tariff in the early years of the kingdom, which lead to the rise of Hungary. All the bridges were destroyed in the war, but the renovations are very good.
19:30, we wandered down Vaci Utsa, the big shopping street in Budapest. Then we headed up to Oktogon, and found the Szupermarket for cookies .
20:00 Went to Pasa Etterum for Pizza and Fanta.
21:00 Headed to a smaller market, and picked up items for breakfast, as we would leave the hotel too early to grab the hotel breakfast.
21:30 Back at the hotel, noshed on cookies and prepared for the morning.
Monday, December 28
Up VERY early, snacked on croissants for breakfast.
06:00, leave the hotel to the Yellow Line, transfer to the Blue line for the long run to the stadium, and the Orangeways bus stop.
(More on Orangeways and Bratislava plans and map).
6:30 Board the bus. After departure, we traveled snowy highways, sipping hot cocoa, and watching Transporter 3 with English subtitles.
09:30 Crossed into the Slovakian Republic.
10:00 Pass the old town and castle on the way to the bus station. Just over a mile walk to the city center, as we crossed the site of one of the former city gates.
10:30 Follow the Rick Steve's recommended walking tour, starting at Michael's Gate.
There were remnants of the Napoleonic wars everywhere, note the cannonball embedded in the building; it is near the center top of the image, slightly left, above the white plaque between the two windows...
The old town hall in Bratislava... they had just taken down the Christmas fair booths here.
Note the cannon ball embedded to the left of the pointed window, near the tree branch, in the old town hall
The Primate's Palace, Bratislava
The back of the town hall, near the Primate's palace
There were many whimsical statues in Bratislava. One of a man tipping his has is called Schoener Naci, modeled after an early 20th century gent who greeted the ladies with a tip of his had and some flowers. Cumil, the Watcher, or Peeper, is a statue of a gent looking out of a man hole cover.
The main square in Bratislava, near the National Theatre, and many an embassy; some Christmas food stalls were still up.
The US embassy... the only one with security fences.
The Slovakian National Theatre
The HUGE Communist era Nový Most (New Bridge; formerly Most SNP - Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising) rises about 90 meters ~(270 feet) over the Danube. The staircase is 430 steps; they charge to ride the elevator, so we climbed the Castle hill later for a similar panorama.
The UFO restaurant is in the top of the Nový Most bridge.
The girls wanted snacks, so we stopped at Coffee & Co. near the Whimsical statues. Of course souvenirs had to be found, too.
Danube looking toward Bratislava... the National Library is on the left, the Statue square straight ahead.
We wandered for a bit, then headed toward the end of the City Center, near Castle Hill. Just this side of the freeway coming off the Nový Most bridge was St. Matthews, site of many Hungarian coronations. (Hungary lost 70% of its territory after World War I.)
12:30 The church was closed, so we headed back to City Center and had Pizza at SQ2.
Some interior's of St. Matthew's
From the church, we crossed under the freeway, and started up Castle Hill.
View from Bratislava Castle
Views of Bratislava Castle
Looking back at the Castle, as we headed back to City Center... it was late, so the sun started setting.
After visiting the castle, it was time for more coffee for the girls, and more souvenirs.
16:00 View of Michael's gate and Christmas lights, as the sun set
16:30, Dinner at Coffee & Bagel Co... adjacent to the old town hall; great bagels. The bus was supposed to leave at 7:00pm (19:00), so we took advantage of the time to just site an laugh. The French embassy was next door, and as sort of a reminder of the discomfort previously invoked by Napoleon, another whimsical statue is right there... a bare foot drunk Napoleonic solder, hat pulled over his eyes, props up against a bench.
After the walk to the bus station, we experienced the joy of pay toilets (good thing we had a few Euros left over... we tried to dump them since they use Florints in Hungary...) and tried to get on the bus to Berlin instead of Budapest. (The sign scrolled and we saw Budapest, not noticing it was first, not last. A few minutes later we were enjoying hot chocolate on the way back to to the bus station on the outskirts of Budapest.
22:00 Grabbed the blue line to Deak, transferred to the Yellow line. Stopped at the market on the way to the hotel, and had cookies before ...
Tuesday, December 29
We started the day with our standard hotel breakfast, and upon returning to the hotel, some people took a nap. But all were up about 10:00, and we headed downstairs.
10:30 We took a taxi (paid for by Program Centrum... well, I guess we paid for it as part of our City Tour.) down to Elizabeth Square, to board our tour bus for our 2 hour city tour and 1 hour tour of Parliament.
From Elizabeth Square we circled St. Stephen's Cathedral, then headed up Andrassy, passing the Opera House on our way to Hero's Square and the Millennium Monument. (After seeing this area, we returned later in the evening to wander, and took a lot more pictures...) Nearby was the Museum of Art, and the wonderful Vajdahunyad Castle, originally built in 1896.
One of the neat things we always see in Europe around Christmas is Merry Go Rounds and Ice Skating, we were not disappointed this time.
We crossed the Danube to Gellért Hill, the rugged site of the Citadel on the cliffs overlooking the river. There is a statute of Liberation there put up by the Communists, but it has a slightly better feel to it now.
We also had GREAT views of Budapest. The castle is in the center of the image below.
Budapest, and the Chain Bridge over the Danube, are below
From Gellért Hill we drove around the Buda Castle area. We spent a lot of time near the Fisherman's Bastion, site of fishermen defending against the Turks.
Near the Fisherman's Bastion is St. Mattias (Mátyás) Church...
St. Mattias (Mátyás) Church, with its tile roof and raven statues to honor Mattias Corvenus, the powerful Hungarian king whose solders bore a raven logo.
We also grabbed some Marzipan before heading past the Holy Trinity Square and the older parts of the castle. Note tower on left.
From here, it was off to Parliament. Parliament has 365 turrets, a dome of 96 meters, and contains the Crown of St. Steven, who was crowned around 1001AD.
14:00-15:00 Tour Parliament
St. Steven's Crown, scepter, and orb... housed in Ft. Knox during the war, the Crown Jewels of Hungary.
The Conference room (blue carpet for the blue bloods of the past)
After the tour, we took the Red metro to Deak, and walked in search of souvenirs. We were successful :)
16:00, we found the Posta (Post Office) and Gracie mail post cards. We then had pizza at Papa Fredo's on the Vaci Utsa, and headed back to the Christmas Fair for more shopping at Vörösmarty Square. and more Kürtőskalács. We went to the Mozart shop for some free Hot Chocolate in the basement, and decided we needed to retrace our morning steps... Opera House and Hero's Square, to explore, and see them at night.
We could see the dome of St. Steven's rising up over the city, as we headed into the Metro station.
17:30-19:30 The old Yellow Metro took us to the Opera...
...to Hero's Square and the Monument...
... near the Art Gallery...
21:00 From there, it was a short hop back to the City Hotel for TV and cookies.
Wednesday, December 30
7:15, up for another great Hotel breakfast. (We are all sleeping better now that we open the windows to offset the heater...)
8:30, Same nice lady cab driver to Elizabeth Square, but this time the bus is not ready... so we head to Coffee Heaven so Susann and Diane can get caffeinated, before heading back to board the bus.
9:00 Off to two odd neighbors, some Roman ruins and a huge Communist apartment complex, looming in the snow and fog. Many of the ruins are still visible, but parts of the old Roman city of Aquincum, in the province of Pannonia, are now covered by a freeway overhead. The communist complex is 1500 meters long, and accommodates 3000 occupants... at least now it has a nice coat of paint. PS, that is ONE building you see, stretching into the distance.
Roman ruins, walls, roads, baths, and barracks visited on the way to Szentendre.
Part of the Danube Bend Tour was a visit to Caprice Jewelry, a museum of jewelry making history in Hungary, complete with a movie and a showroom for gullible tourists.
From here, we headed to Esztergom, birthplace of St. Steven, and near the Slovakian Republic. Esztergom also has the Basilica, the tallest building in Hungary and one of the largest churches in the world.. The Basilica includes Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (by Michelangelo Grigoletti), the largest painting in the world painted on a single piece of canvas. Also inside is the relocated ancient red marble Bakócz chapel, built by Italian masters between 1506–1507.
Slovakia in the distance
From Esztergom we headed to Visegrád, and saw the ruined palace and former seat of government for King Charles I around the 1300s. We went to the top of the hill for lunch at a wonderful hunting lodge type restaurant shrouded in fog and snow.
For lunch we started with Palinka, a fortified schnapps type of kerosene that we could not down... followed by a hearty soup and chicken entree. Dessert was a baked apple with mince core, and a sweet sauce poured over it...
After lunch, back on the bus back to Szentendre, an artist colony with a serb history and architecture. The church was at the top of the hill, with an alley or close, that lead back down to the town center.
After wandering, we stopped for Coffee, and headed back to the bus.
17:30, we head from Elizabeth to Vörösmarty, then up to the Blue line and then over to Kalvin Tér, where we walked to the Grand Market.
From the market, we walked Vaci Utsa to Deak, and headed via metro back to Oktogon and Pasa Etterum for pizza and gyros.
Then it was a sad walk to the hotel to eat cookies, and ...pack for the trip back home.
Thursday, December 31
We caught our prearranged shuttle to the airport, and beat the Lufthansa clerks to the terminal. We printed boarding passes, grabbed some breakfast, sold the last of our Forints, and reluctantly checked our luggage. (Only Lufthansa made us check our small carry on size bags, and others managed to bring on on luggage far larger.) We stopped in Frankfort, which STILL is on our hated airports list... but now Lufthansa and Frankfort are now on our NEVER AGAIN list. The 767 was okay, but the entertainment system needed to be rebooted, and never worked well after that.
Back in Houston, we caught the shuttle to the car park, and drove over to the same hotel we started at a week before.
We celebrated the New year with sparkling cider, and crashed.
Friday, January 1. Breakfast at Katz's Express on I-45, and back to the real world... but boy, what a great vacation.
|Traveling to Budapest|
|PreFlight - IAH Reservation ID 221359 Parking Type Covered
Start Date/Time 12/25/2009 1:00 PM *
6633 Will Clayton Parkway
Humble, TX 77338
Depart 3:50 pm
Arrive 8:05 am +1 day
| Economy/Coach Class ( 44B, 44A, 44E, 44D ), Dinner, Boeing 777
Depart 10:00 am
Arrive 12:00 pm
|MALEV Hungarian Airlines
|Economy/Coach Class (Seat assignments upon check-in) BOEING 737-800|
||City Hotel Budapest
Harsfa Street 51
Room description: Suite
Includes: Free High-Speed Internet, Breakfast Buffet
Room type: 2 Twin Beds and Sofa Sleeper
||http://www.bkv.hu/english/home/index.html Seven-day travel card HUF 4600*4
Valid on the indicated 7 days between 00.00-24.00 for an unlimited number of trips on buses, trams, trolleybuses, on metro, underground, cogwheel-railway on the whole length of the line but on suburban railway (HÉV) only within the administrative boundaries of Budapest. It is issued to the name of the holder and is not transferable. The name of the holder has to be written on it in ink in capital letters before starting the first trip. It is not returnable after beginning of validity. It has to be presented for controller's request together with an identifying document with photo (ID card, passport or driving licence).
Terror House Museum @1800 ft*4 ($48.00)
Liszt Museum @800ft*4 ($21.00)
|Hungarian National Museum
||http://www.hnm.hu/en/latog/lat_informaciok0.html @1040ft*4 ($27.00)
- The Hungarian Holy Crown and the hungarian coronation jewels
- The history of the peoples of Hungary (prehistoric ages- Transylvania, 896 A.D.)
- The history of the peoples of Hungary from 896 until 1848.
- Roman, Medieval and Early Modern Lapidary
The building where the Hungarian National Museum is currently located was built from 1837-1847. The style of the main building was laid out in a neo-classical style
|Sunday Evening Cruise
||From Expedia's description:
Soak up the glittering lights of Budapest from one of its main attractions–the Danube River. Explore the city's history through a sound and vision show that combines images of the interiors of famous landmarks with anecdotes about the city's colourful personalities. Sit back, sip complimentary drinks, and let the city come to you!
Vídagó Square, Pier 7
|Orangeway's bus to
Bratislava, then follow Rick Steve's recommended city walk
St. Michael's Gate
old town hall,
the Danube, Navy Most bridge
St. Martin's Cathedral
May go to Bratislava Castle
View my Google Bratislava plan in a larger map
|Tuesday City Tour
||From Expedia's Description
View all the celebrated sights and monuments of Budapest and then feel history at your fingertips with a guided tour of the Parliament buildings. Your guide will lead you through the magnificent interior, including stunning neo-gothic chambers and staircases.
This bus tour begins in Erzsébet Square and sweeps alongside the opulent Opera House before stopping at the Millennium Memorial in Heroes' Square. Cross Erzsébet Bridge and come to a stop on Gellért Hill before stretching your legs with a 45-minute walk around the castle district. Then pass over Margit Bridge on your way to the Parliament buildings where you will finish with a guided tour of the intricate interior.
From Expedia's Description
A gentle drive along the Danube River reveals three of Budapest's lesser-known gems: Esztergom, Visegrád, and Szentendre. Enter Esztergom's royal Basilica, enjoy a three-course lunch with wine at Visegrád, and finish with a quiet stroll around the medieval streets of Szentendre.
First stop is Esztergom where you will venture into the royal Basilica. Then, linger over a delicious three-course lunch and wine in Visegrád before going for a gentle stroll. In the afternoon, head to Szentendre to explore its charming medieval streets and discover why this scenic town has long inspired many Hungarian artists. Before you return to Budapest, stop off and visit the Caprice Jewelry Museum.
Departure time and location:
|Traveling to Houston|
Depart 10:00 am
|to||Frankfurt am Main (FRA)
Arrive 11:40 am
|Economy/Coach Class (Seat assignments upon check-in) Brunch, Airbus A319
|Frankfurt am Main (FRA)
Depart 1:40 pm
Arrive 5:50 pm
|Economy/Coach Class ( 45B, 45A, 45E, 45D ), Lunch, Boeing 767|
|PreFlight - IAH Reservation ID 221359 Parking Type Covered
End Date/Time 12/31/2009 6:00 PM *
6633 Will Clayton Parkway
Humble, TX 77338
Hotel Zip 1074, Oktogon/Liszt Ter 1061