Budapest: slightly off the beaten trackOctober 16, 2019 in Hungary ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C
Each day we became progressively more adventurous. Our guide book told us that there are great views to be had from a lookout on top of one of the Buda hills and that there was a cog railway for much of the climb.
Again, the major challenge was in decoding the excellent public transport system, but we sort of worked it out eventually. A four-stop ride on our nearby tramline delivered us to a major transport terminal then Mr Google directed us on a 15 minute walk through what could best be described as once elegant streets in Buda. No doubt, back in the day when Brian's parents were residents of Budapest the area would have been really classy.
We reached the entrance to the cog railway only to find it closed,and a typed sign stuck to the gate. Thank goodness for Google Translate which informed us that the "machinery will not be moving between 9am and 12 o'clock." That was the bad news. The good news was that were standing near the entrance to a park which we had been walking alongside as we had approached the tram terminal. With just over an hour to kill it was an easy decision for us to spend it wandering around in the park. We had it almost to ourselves. It was so peaceful, and with the many large trees just starting to display their autumn colours it was magic. We spotted a few birds there including an eye-catching goldfinch very close to us.
Then came a bit more bad news and the (multi-lingual) explanation for the three hour closure of the cog tram. As of that very morning the upper 2/3 of the track was closed and it wasn't scheduled to reopen until the end of November.
Nevertheless we jumped on board this very quaint and old-fashioned tram for the 1/3 that we could enjoy. It is as much a commuter tram for the residents of the Buda hills as it is a tourist attraction, though it wasn't very busy for this particular trip,which took about ten minutes. The tram had climbed steeply as it went through a mixture of residential and scenic forested areas.
As we left the tram we saw a rough hand-drawn sign directing us to a bus route 200 metres away. What the sign didn’t show was that it was up a hill which one would describe as very steep even by Wellington standards. We made it then jumped on a bus which took us parallel to the now-closed tram track.
The aim of this particular morning's expedition had been to get to the summit of this Buda hill and to view the city from there.
Apart from ourselves and a poor lost female tourist from Hong Kong, the only other people up at the almost deserted summit were a few bewildered locals who were also disorientated by the partial closure of their tram line.
All that was fine but we still didn't have any sort of a view over the city as it was blocked by trees and buildings. One solitary sign pointed to a lookout but when we went for a wander in that direction all we could see were some large and obviously very expensive mansions. Clearly this is a classy area, but we never did get to see the view from the top.
We retraced our steps via the various means of transport and grabbed a bit of lunch downtown.
The weather by then had turned cooler with light rain but we decided to proceed with our plan to visit Margaret Island in the afternoon. This 2.5km long island, which is in the middle of the Danube, is very close to our hotel. Most of the area is laid out with immaculately maintained parks and gardens. One of the features, which we had discovered on our last visit is a giant fountain which is programmed very cleverly to provide ever-changing lighting and water patterns, some of it in time to recorded music. We could sit there and watch it for hours.
With the weather having closed in most people had disappeared the place was practically empty. We really enjoyed the beauty together with the peace and quiet as we walked the length of the island.
When we're on holiday in Europe some days are outstanding while others are merely excellent. There is really no such thing as a bad day. We may not have achieved everything that we had planned to do but we still achieved a lot. It was still an excellent day.Read more