I am technically twenty something and I have a confession to make. We booked a 4* hotel. In our defence, would you really want to stay in hostel you were paying €5 a night for? I didn’t think so! Let me set the bleak scene for you. It’s 2.30am. I’m half asleep. We’re on a platform waiting for our third night train in three days. Its delayed. Fantastic. I just love hanging out on the concrete floor of a dirty train station. As I made clear in my last post, this mode of transport is a far cry from luxury travel. This was not going to be a fun night. To makes things a little cheerier this would probably be the most comfortable night out of the next three, a hostel dorm you pay €5 a night for can never have a happy ending. This is when Rory awoke me from my nightmare. Blinded by a very bright light, coming from his phone, illuminating a dreamy 4* star boutique hotel. There was no persuasion necessary. Was it €5 per night? No. Was it worth it? Is that even a question? I slept the best I ever have on a night train, dreaming sweet dreams of crisp white beds sheets, air con and an ensuite fully equipped with those ridiculously tiny bottles of shampoo.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the receptionist, make up perfect, smelling of perfume and not a hair out of place. Essentially, she epitomised everything that I was not. Tactfully, she offered us the opportunity to ‘freshen up’ before coming back to complete the check in process, obviously night trains take a visible toll on us! The hotel itself was perfect, location meant it was just minutes walk from several tourist attractions on Buda side, a stones throw from the chain bridge to access Pest and all it had to offer, as well as, a nearby bus stop meaning we could get where we wanted quickly in the short time we had. Butik Budapest has just a handful of rooms, all of which are decorated differently with a sharp and modern finish. A hotel we would both definitely recommend and would love to come back to should we visit Budapest again in the future, somehow I doubt we would have said the same about our initial accommodation…
Feeling much more human after a shower and change of clothes, we set off to meet one of my best friends from school, Kirsty, and her boyfriend, Jake. In all honesty at just over the half way point in our travels I think Rory was crying out for some male company and I was dying to meet up with Kirsty to hear all about their trip and compare notes! Given the temperature peaked at 38 degrees we agreed the best place to catch up was at the baths. Whilst this was a perfect chill spot for a chin wag and a much needed cool off, in my opinion entry to the baths is expensive for what they are. In total it cost Rory and I 9800 Hungarian forints, which currently is worth around £29. We didn’t arrive until the afternoon and the baths we very busy at this point, so my advice would be if you do intend on going, is to go early, be prepared to stay of the majority of the day and set up camp with a couple of sun loungers. Alternatively, the baths open on certain nights and offer a kind of pool party with music and lights. Unfortunately, on the days we were in Budapest this wasn’t an option for us but seems like money better spent on what is otherwise essentially an expensive collection of outdoor pools.
After a quick shower and change of clothes, I say ‘quick’ but we girls had hair to wash and blow dry, so let’s go with hurried turnaround, we arrived at an Italian restaurant. There was only one thing on are mind, pizza! The Italian in question, Trattoria Pomo D’Oro did not disappoint. Tasty, flavoursome pizza and very reasonable prices in this very busy spot created the perfect combination. Hunger satisfied and deciding the night was still young the four of us headed to rooftops for a drink in 360 Bar. From this height, the view of Budapest with many of the impressive buildings lit up against the night sky added a warm glow to the horizon. There is a certain vibrancy and an excited buzz throughout the city and this is heightened at night when the bars and restaurants are in full swing. If you do want to try out this rooftop bar it is advisable to be there early, we arrived near closing time and the place was full with no free tables. Not to be defeated we waited it out for one particular table to capture the perfect cocktail instagram shot!
Day two and Rory and I were running out of clean clothes, socks were the main issue resulting in Rory donning a bright orange pair – why he even packed them is beyond me! Given this dilemma a stop in the laundrette was definitely necessary. Upon arrival we discovered a grand total of three washing machines and a queue. Not exactly how we had envisaged our second day in Budapest! When we finally succeeded in securing a washing machine, tackling the door shut and a sprint finish to a cash point when it refused to accept our card, we had just 35 minutes before we had to start the procedure again with a dryer! Ice cream was essential. I mean it was 38 degrees and we had to reward ourselves somehow for doing laundry whilst on holiday. We came across a little ice cream parlour by the Hungarian State Opera called Maritza Eis which serves some creative flavours that even encouraged Rory to stray from his standard order of Strawberry! Tumble drier activated we had another 35 minutes to roam the streets before heading out to do some proper sight seeing.
Budapest is a treasure trove of attractive building well worth admiring, top of our list would have to be the parliament building. The Buda side also has some impressive attractions though are located at a height and so we waited until the evening when temperatures dipped to a more reasonable 32 degrees. As soon as the sun sets Budapest becomes almost an entirely new city. I would highly recommend going to the top of the Citadel or Buda Castle to get a really good view of the city alight.
Vital interrailing lesson learned, it is ok to stray from the spread sheet. Rory may require some counselling when we get home to get over the interruption caused to his master plan, but I for one am glad we abandoned that cheap hostel! Already over halfway and proceeding to the last leg of our travels it’s a flying visit through Vienna and Prague before visiting the much anticipated city of Berlin, but we’ve got plenty of trains to catch before then.