Thursday, 29 November 2012

Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, 13.-20.10.2012, Part I

I'm finally getting around to writing about my Autumn Break trip to Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. I was so excited about going somewhere again! I was travelling with my workmate and good friend Tia - our second trip together this year (we also went to London in February). As usual, we flew with Ryanair from Tampere and our flights were around 166€, with one suitcase between us. Ryanair is a lot more expensive these days than what they used to be (back in the day, I'd go to London and back for 20€) but I still continue to use them because it's just so practical to be able to fly from my own town.These days, though, it's probably just as cheap to fly with other airlines. In May, I'm off to Brighton, England for a week with my class and we're flying with Norwegian for 219€/person/return flight so that's not bad, either. Of course, they only fly from Helsinki, which always adds up to the price, having to go there first.

Anyway, back to the topic! We'd booked a really cheap hostel called Rastel. A word of advice: stop and think for a second when you're doing your booking! Turned out Rastel was very much about rasta culture, nothing wrong with that in itself, but...the owners were two rastafarians, there was reggae music playing everywhere, pictures of Bob Marley were hanging on the walls and everyone was smoking pot in the common room (!!!). The hostel was also situated on a seedy backstreet in the 8th district, which apparently has a very bad reputation. Oh noes! Our room was very simple, with two beds and not much else. The curtains were nailed to the wall and looked very messy and the door handle was about to fall off. Another big minus was that there was no mirror in the room. Very annoying! We paid only 10€/night/person but still, even for that amount of money, you'd expect something a little bit better. Definitely the most horrible hostel ever, in addition to the one I once stayed at in Tallinn. Anyway, we survived, but I'm definitely NOT recommending this place to anyone. It was pretty late when we arrived so we just went to the McDonald's nearby for a meal and then it was off to bed.

Our plan was to stay in Budapest for 4 nights, then take the train to Bratislava for the day and continue to Vienna in the evening for two nights. We'd be back to Budapest for one more night before our flight back home.

We hadn't really done any research on Budapest or any of the places we went to prior to our trip as we'd intended to just take it easy and relax...of course, that's not at all how our trip turned out and instead, we saw just about every sight in every city, heh. On our first full day, we both decided we didn't like Budapest that much. I'm sure that there's nothing wrong with the city per se, but for me, the most important thing is the general atmosphere of a city, and my first impression of Budapest was all Soviet Union = not my favourite kind of place in the world. However, for someone into that sort of thing, it's probably a very nice city indeed, and just about everyone I know who's been there has loved it. I liked it better once the weather got better as well, heh.

Anyway, we started our day by having breakfast at a coffee shop and then buying a Hop On Hop Off bus ticket with this line. The ticket was valid for 48 hours and you got to do a lot with it so I thought it was a good choice. The distances between some places can be quite long so sitting on a bus worked fine with me.

First, we went up to Gellért Hill to have free goulash (with a voucher we got with our bus ticket) at Citadella and to see the view over the Danube...except that the weather was crappy and we could barely see a thing:


The goulash was good, though...

...and the chocolate cake even better!

Then we did some random wandering up on the hill, went to see Citadel, the Statue of Liberty, Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion and other such places that can be found on the Buda side of the river.

Tia found her calling!

The Statue of Liberty. It was a bit hard to take pictures of anything up on the hill because everything there's so big and you're just too close.

Tia and I had to take an open-top bus...we were pretty much the only people on board and freezing to death as well.

On our way to Buda Castle.

Fisherman's Bastion, the most beautiful building in Budapest if you ask me.

Matthias Church.

Fisherman's Bastion.

Something typically Hungarian - a pastry called Kürtőskalács.

The Chain Bridge.


Somewhere around the castle.
By now we were so frozen that we just had to catch the next bus back to Pest and go to our hostel to warm ourselves up. Here are some absolutely stunning pictures from our street...

The yellow sign is the entrance to our hostel and the pub downstairs.

The building opposite our hostel, lovely. Honestly, staying in Buda instead of Pest would've been so much nicer :D!

In the evening, we went out for pizza and wine and had a really, really good time :)!


And luckily, the weather was a lot better the following day so we could go back to Gellért Hill and get better pictures. More to come, stay tuned...