February 20 – 23, 2018
Bus to Budapest…
Budapest was not originally on the list for this trip and neither is the next few countries we will be visiting so surprise, surprise, surprise. We left Zagreb early morning, lucky for us we were a short walk from the bus station, there are no trains from Croatia’s capital to Hungry’s. Flixbus was our cheapest and fastest options to make it to Budapest. The ride was just over five hours and easy going, there was a 40 minute boarder crossing stop as passports were check and stamped by both the exiting and entering country. For travelers who like to collect stamps in their passport this is always exciting!
Francesca had a fever the night before left so she wasn’t feeling the greatest. She had the I-pad and watched a variety of movies as we made our way to Budapest. This leg of our trip her focus was on birds, so she could watch Rio, Rio 2, and the Penguins of Madagascar. The Penguins have been number one on the viewing list lately so see watched it a couple times on the ride. She has an uncanny ability to fall asleep when were about to arrive at our destination, this time it was about 30 minutes from our arrival at the bus station.The sky was grey and dreary, the temperature fluctuated right around freezing and the rain wasn’t quite snow. It would be about an hour before we could check into our Air B&B and it would take about that long to get there if we walked.
Normally, we would be fine with an hour stroll in the wet snow with 150 pounds of stuff but when 28 pounds of that stuff is a toddler you think twice about being out in the elements. After discovering Uber and Lift are non-existent in Budapest we opted to take the metro. Daniel went to the information center and they gave us instructions on which metro lines we should take to our place. It was pretty simple, two trains one transfer ten stops to get there. However, we went to the wrong platform before reaching the bottom I fell down a couple stairs and twisted my ankle while carrying my 50 pound backpack and the stroller with all Francesca’s toys and snacks. Embarrassing for sure but I was alright, tweaked my ankle but thankfully didn’t break anything or smack my face on the pavement.
Once we were on the correct platform things were easy peasy, there were definitely some looks at the crazy couple carrying giant packs with a toddler who were taking up the most space you could possibly occupy on the metro. Our Air B&B was only a few minutes walk from where we departed the metro station. Richi, the owner, met us at the door. He helped us carry our belongings up three flights of stairs to the large flat he had owned for 30 years. The building was more than 100 years old, as were all the buildings in the area, with ornate carving on the exterior wall surrounding the beautiful courtyard. I could imagine hosting cocktail parties, having afternoon tea in this beautiful space, Or even having an amazing photo shoot utilizing the terrace on all three upper levels. The flat itself could use a little tender loving care but that is coming from the designer in me who wants to paint, make curtains, hang art and remodel the kitchen and bathroom to achieve the space’s fullest potential. The flat was inexpensive, about $33 a night, in a great location and had everything we needed.
Richi recommend attractions to see during our visit, Told us about a few restaurant with in a walking distance and informed us to make reservations to ensure we would have a table. The weather wasn’t going to be the best during our stay, it was suppose to snow or rain the entire time we were there. Francesca was coming down with a cold and we didn’t know what was going to happen. We made dinner reservations at Paprika for the evening and settled in, before strolling the beautiful streets of Budapest.
Paprika was about a 20 minute walk from our flat and was busy when we arrived, there was a wait to be seated but since we made a reservation our table was set and ready for us. The restaurant was designed in an old fashion manner to look like a cabin in the village with an old days feel and old country decor to make you feel like you just sat down at a medieval village. Dinner was delicious, we ordered grilled goats cheese served with rice and pepper sauce similar to gravy, garlic soup and “Jokai” bean soup with chorizo, sour cream and white bread served in a hanging pot. For the main course was a traditional beef goulash served with dumpling which turned out to be spatzle, and venison and vegetable ragout served with rice, sour creme, potato croquettes and cranberry sauce. Francesca slept through dinner, Daniel and I turned off our devices and enjoyed each others company and made preliminary plans for the following days.
Sights to see in Budapest…
The next morning we bundled up and headed out for some sightseeing. We made our way to the largest Jewish Synagogue in Europe, the building was absolutely beautiful. The grounds consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, a Memorial and the Jewish Museum. We spent some time walking inside the synagogue, through the museum and around the grounds where plaques and sculptures were displayed and dedicated to those that lost their lives. In the courtyard, an amazing sculpture stood of a large silver weeping willow and when you looked closely you could see the names of Jewish men and women engraved on the leaves, it was beautiful.
Afterwards we crossed the Danube River and made our way to the Buda castle where Francesca made some friends with an Asian couple that took a liking to her. She ran around, played in the snow, slipped and fell, cried a little, and was cleaned up by a lovely Japanese lady. We took some photos and headed to Porizo, a food stand on the Pest side of the river near the Parliament building. Porizo’s are a Hungarian burrito we ordered one with red wine beef goulash, pickles and slaw topped with a spicy sauce wrapped in a spongy egg barley cone that is similar to the pancake found in an Ethiopian restaurant. It was delicious! The added spicy sauce was very spicy, I loved it and Daniel was breathing fire for a bit but agreed that was delicious.
After our amazing Porizo snack we walked to the Parliament Building and along the Danube River to see the shoe monument that honors the approximately 20,000 Jews that were executed along the Danube river during WWII. To finish our evening we made our way to the pinball museum where you could pay 3000FT, about $12, and play over 100 different games. Some dating back to the 40’s up to present day. It was a fun evening and we would have stayed longer had our little miss been feeling better. It was getting close to bed time and it had been a rather cold and wet day in Budapest.
A night at the Circus…
That night was a long one for us, miss Francesca ran a fever and was up most of the night. One thing that is very different when traveling with a toddler is your schedule is dictated by them and you need more time then you think. Our three nights in Budapest needed to be at least three weeks or more. We stayed in the apartment most of the day, the weather wasn’t the best and she didn’t feel well at all. We did make it out that evening for a special surprise, we took Francecsca to see her first circus. Front row, ring side! There were acrobatic acts from Romania, Cuba, France, Hungary and China. Bird trainers and horse riders from Czech Republic; and comedic acts from Russia. Daniel was invited center ring to assist in the performance with the Russian comedians, it was amazing!! Well worth the evening adventure out with the little one.
Our Budapest adventure ended quickly and we look forward to returning, hopefully when the temperature is warmer and we can spend several weeks. It’s a beautiful place with so much to see, some cities your over in a couple days but this one has been added to the list of “if I could own a place here I would!” In the morning we awoke and packed our bags. When it was time to go we loaded our packs on and walked about a mile to the train station. We had purchased tickets through a Go Euro app on the phone, unfortunately the tickets wouldn’t download and the site was having problems. We had someone from the train station try to speak to the train company that the tickets were held by, however they insisted that it was the Go Euro apps issue. Eventually we had to purchase another set of tickets at the station and dispute the charges for the original tickets with the credit card company. Purchasing the tickets at the station was actually less expensive then on the app. It had been a good thing we had left a couple hours before our departure time because the whole mess devoured any extra time we had. After obtaining our tickets we made our way to the platform. Daniel stopped to grab drinks and snacks for our ride while Francesca and I boarded the train.