Thursday, 6 September 2012

Tuesday 4th September - Thursday 6th September

The campsite (Camping Haller, Haller Urtca, Budapest) is fine, typical City Centre site, you only come here if you want to see Budapest, it has no other attractions as far as I can see.

Tuesday, we set off for Budapest centre, well Pest centre to be exact. As you probably know, Budapest is actually two cities, one each side of the Danube (a little bit like Newcastle and Gateshead, on the Tyne). One is called Buda, the other is Pest. We are actually on the Pest side.

As I mentioned in a previous post, EU citizens can actually travel free on public transport, but, I am one month short of 65, and being honest, I dutifully stand in the queue at the metro station to buy a day ticket. This may well have been my downfall. But, at least at this point, I know I had my wallet!

We start at Nagyvarad Ter (Ter, means Square, I think). The first problem is, there are absolutely no signs to tell you which platform for which line, and when you have found the platform, nothing to tell you in which direction the train is going.

We mill around for a few minutes, then ask someone.

We board the metro.

Nothing untoward, I have to stand, one person bumps into me, and makes elaborate apology signs (I think he must have been the one!).

We get off at Deak F. Ter, and head for a cash machine, no wallet!

Momentary disbelief, it was in a "closed" pocket, and the pocket is still "closed", but, there is no wallet.

We hop back on the Metro, and head back to the last place I had it, thinking maybe I dropped it, etc, but, we know really, it has been stolen. Money, Cards, Driving Licence, gone.
I would like to pretend I am an organised individual with a list of card numbers, and a list of phone numbers to ring in these circumstances, but, I am not.

So, while I busy myself on the computer, finding card numbers and numbers to ring, then stopping the cards. Kathleen attempts to enlist the aid of the chap who runs the campsite. He is sympathetic, but to be honest his interest wanes as soon as he knows we have other cards and will be able to pay him.

Any doubts about lost/stolen are put to rest, by the time I ring the first card company (Santander), their computer system  has already detected attempts to use the card to draw cash, fortunately, the transaction has been blocked because they do not know my PIN.

We console ourselves with the knowledge, thing could have been worse, our passports were not taken, and we have other cards we can use, but the day is more or less wasted.

We rescue some of it by finding a supermarket and getting provisions, then I take a cycle ride to explore (me) It is only 0.5 miles to the Danube, then another 0.5 miles to the centre. The traffic is not too scary for a cyclist, there are some cycle tracks and no one seems to object to you riding on the footpath and using the zebra crossings to cross the road.

Wednesday, we decide, given my licence has gone, and the French Bank where I have a Euro account want me to report it to the Police "if possible", perhaps we should visit the Police Station and report it. Their tourist blurb says the will provide an interpreter. So, off we go. An amusing little incident when we enter through a door clearly marked "Police" to find ourselves in an office. A bemused young lady takes us to the correct door. Excluding the bit of amusement, what a waste of time that was, we waited for half an hour, no sign of any action, so we gave up.

After yesterdays experience, we decide to take the tram, rather than the Metro, this is painless, the only problem being a total lack of signs to tell you direction, stop name etc.

We buy tickets for  the "Hop on Hop off tour bus" to sight see (boring in my view, but each to their own). Naturally, you do not dictate where the bus goes, it just follows its set route, yes, you can "hop off", but then you have to wait for the next bus.  

You could do as well on the tram and enjoy it more in my humble opinion.

Leaving aside my grumbles, Budapest is interesting.

It is plain it has been neglected during the communist era, but, they are working on fixing that, and the basics are grand indeed.

This building has once been covered in murals, but now the are faded and hardly visible, it will be stunning if/when it is restored to its former glory.

There are some spectacular bits of masonary missing, I would not like to have been underneath when this bit came away!

Can you imagine the health and safety at home, they would have the whole street closed off!

We cross to the Buda side of the river, and travel to the top of two very high hills, one is called "The Citadel", the other has the Castle and St Mathius church (unfortunately being renovated inside, so it is not possible to visit it).

The views are spectacular.

Kathleen cannot resist doing the tourist thing of standing next to the Guardsman, as if he does not have enough to put up with, standing there in the heat for goodness knows how long.

The public transport system is reputed to be one of the best in Europe, and our experience supports that (theft excluded of course), Metros, Trams and Trolley buses seem to run every few minutes.

We round the day off with a pleasant meal and drinks in cafe by Danube, as the photograph suggests, perhaps a few too many drinks.

 Then it is time for our cruise Danube River Cruise (all included in out hop on hop off bus ticket).

We are one of the last to arrive for the "cruise", we are asked if we would like either three beers or two cocktails.

I assumed this was each, not between us.

Knowing Kathleen's less than adventurous habits, I ask if we can have cocktails and beers, on the basis I would swap with her, if she did not like hers.

Seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

A couple, who were in the queue, thought this was hilarious. Once they had stopped laughing, they introduced themselves as Leonard (a German) and Emily (a Swiss). Leonard tells me, he studied medicine (he did not actually say he was a Doctor), while Emily is "Therapist", doing Acupuncture etc. It turns out, they are bit strange, into alternative therapies, reincarnation and all of that, but we have a great time, drinks, chat, and laughs.

The  boat trip, was spent talking, laughing and drinking.

Kathleen gets a free consulation on the red blotches on her leg, drink less coffee, take more vitamin C, try acupuncture (or was that for her shoulder). 

We missed almost all of the sights, but so what.

We get back to the site on the tram without misshap, except we are forced to detour into a small bar for the Pensioners Toilet Trip. There a few locals drinking some very dark coloured spirit, I ask them what it is "jagermeister" is the answer, but Kathleen is not up for trying it, or allowing me to.

We find even more Brits have arrived at the site, not good enough, they get everywhere!

Then, we chill somemore.

Thursday, we return to Budapest centre, even more adventurous this time, we use two trams, and have to change at the appropriate place.

We visit St Stephen's Basilica, very impressive, and the Synagogue, equally impressive.

To be honest, I prefer the street scenes, like this quadrangle tucked in the centre of a large apartment building. 

We move on visit the famous Central Market, which had been recomended to me by an English woman we met in France. Very interesting, but crowded.

The only thing we have not visited, which was "on my list", is the city park, with its outdoor thermal bathing pools, but Kathleen's legs are not up to walking around a large park.


  1. Hi you two, bad news about the wallet! Joan said I bet they just bought a ticket. She remembered we were robbed in Naples just after buying our tickets to the airport. It's bloomin upsetting though isn't it. Still looks like you are not letting it get you down, which is good. B&J xxx

  2. Hi Bryan & Joan, yes, as you say it is upsetting, but, no use crying over spilt milk, you just have to get on with it (enjoying yourself that is)!