How beautiful is this shot of the the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle at night? It is one of my favorite photos but before I get ahead of myself, welcome to the first of nine posts taking you day by day through my Eurotrip. I took a break from blogging during this time and you will see why – I was very, very busy in the best way possible.
And now to begin at the very beginning, you know, it is a very good place to start. 🙂 I headed to JFK straight from work and the half a dozen trips I have taken to this very busy NYC airport have taught me the subway really is the best mode of transportation to get there. There were no problems at the airport and I thought there might be since it was 9/11 but I sailed through security no problem.
On the plane the woman seated next me commented I was extremely well prepared, yes indeed. Armed with an inflatable pillow, earplugs, eyeshades, socks, and Ambien I had planned ahead for the red-eye.The 7:45 flight time meant only a bit over six hours of sleep and while it was rough, it no where near as bad as it could have been.
In the blink of an eye it was touchdown and sunshine in Switzerland. I’m glad I’ve traveled extensively before – when you are in an unknown airport and have a connecting flight you get to your new gate before getting something to eat as it might be on the other side of the Earth – in this case, 45 minutes away. Until the day before I left I had not really registered that I was going to be in Switzerland – I would only be in the country for two, two hour layovers and thus had not looked up the exchange rate. When my coffee was 6,50 CHF I had no idea that was actually $6.90 – holy heck, that is one very expensive coffee.
After another flight, this one much shorter, I landed in Budapest and headed to my hotel. After checking in and dropping my bags I took a long stroll along the Buda side of the Danube. I had learned in researching my trip that Budapest is actually the combination of two cities, Buda and Pest which are separated by the Danube River. I walked along the Buda side from the Chain Bridge passed the Elizabeth Bridge to the Liberty Bridge and around Gellert Hill before turning around, taking pictures of anything that caught my eye.
I had taken the advice of a friend and scheduled an evening activity to ward off the temptation of going to sleep early from jet lag. I booked Budapest boat cruise during twilight from the most popular company, Legenda, and it is clear why they are number one – it was by far the most clearly labeled and organized of the dozen I passed. I was glad I arrived 15 minutes early or I would not have been able to get a window seat on the boat – it was a very comfortable 68 degrees when I boarded and all of the windows on the roof deck were open.
The over the ear headphones reminded me fondly of my 2003 CD player and for an hour I was treated a very interesting history of the city via audio guide dictated by two narrators, a the man who represented the Buda side of the city and a woman who was Pest. The difference between the two was very helpful so you knew which side of the river bank you should be looking at. In this Eurotrip series I will try not to bore you with facts even though I heard hundreds and wrote down dozens but I do want to share one here that I found quite interesting – Buda is half a million years old and the city was named after the founder, Buda who was the brother of Attila the Hun. (Which immediately had me singing “Let get down to business to defeat the Huns” from Mulan).
As the sun set and the city faded to darkness the lights came on illuminating all of the famous bridges and buildings which made me fall in love with the city as I sipped on a glass of Prosecco. Perhaps I am jaded by NYC but I thought $13 for an hour and a half narrated tour was quite reasonable, especially as it included an alcoholic cocktail of your choice and a glass of traditional Hungarian lemonade.
The four photos above are some of my favorites from the entire trip and one or two I still can not believe I took – they look like post cards! My first day of the trip ended with my pedometer clocking in at 8 miles and I didn’t even get land in Budapest until 2pm.