Sorry for the delay in posting about our travels. We experienced problems accessing the internet in some of the areas.
I enjoyed another delightful train voyage across Europe. Majestic scenery flew by my window as we traveled from Prague. Quaint villages of A-framed homes dotted the landscape in the valleys. A swift-moving river ran along beside the train for most of the trip. I felt like I rode into another time and place. This two-and-a-half hour train ride provided the best views so far. I hoped the city would impress me as much as the surrounding countryside.
With each new leg of our train journey, I learn new tricks and tips. I learned that the first class car is not always at the front of the train. Sometimes, we needed to run to the other end of the train to get on before it departed. I finally figured out that most train stations provide a board showing the location of each train car to help passengers. They also offer corresponding letters on the platforms so you can stand in the right place as you wait. Knowing this information made our boarding process so much easier.
I loved this city. The hotel was right in the middle of all the action. Most of the famous tourist sites were within a fifteen-minute walk. We did not need to use public transportation during this stay. Once again, the old world architecture delighted me. Tourists were not as numerous as in Prague, but we still found some crowded areas. A large pedestrian mall offered every high-end retailer imaginable and felt congested. But, we found our way along alleyways and side streets to get around the crowds of people. Every corner we turned seemed to offer up an architectural delight. Credit cards were widely accepted, and most people spoke some English. Other than the high cost of living, I would love to live here.
We toured many churches in both the gothic and baroque style. St. Stephens stood in the center of the square with its marvelous gothic designs. Parks adorned with spring flowers drew large crowds and offered us a place to relax. We marveled at the beauty of the crown jewels in the treasury. And, I fulfilled a dream by seeing the Spanish Horses perform in their spectacular surroundings of the palace stables. We went to the roof of the incredible St. Charles Church. The elegant baroque interior mesmerized me. On the last morning, a marathon race impacted our ability to get around. We wandered in another section and discovered a hidden gem of a church called Church of the Jesuit. The music of the organ echoed through the building as we enjoyed our discovery.
We spoiled ourselves during this stay. After saving up our hotel points for a whole year, we decided to stay at the Ritz for free. We enjoyed the included breakfast buffet each morning. Dinner proved more expensive than in other cities, but we found many great options with options to sit outside. Upon the recommendations of friends, we visited the Blaue Bar in the Sacher Hotel to sample their famous Sacher Torte. A must see if you ever go. We saved some money by not buying any transportation tickets.
Seeing the horses cost us more than budgeted but this is another must see. Most churches are free to visit but the elevator to the top of St. Charles did have a small fee. Window shopping cost us nothing to enjoy. Strolls through the parks to admire the colorful floral displays also provided us free entertainment and time to people watch. As with each city, a gallon of gas cost $5.30 per gallon, milk cost $4.36 per gallon, and a loaf of bread cost $3.10.
We arrived into the city at night. Disappointment set in as we learned that Uber did not operate in Hungary. We caught a taxi that accepted Euros, so we did not have to walk. The area around the train station appeared very dismal in the darkness, and my heart sank a little. But the morning sun soon relieved my first impressions. Our hotel, Kalvin House, sat in the middle of all the tourist attractions. We did purchase metro passes to allow us to get to some farther away places.
One of the items on our list was the funicular ride up the hill to see St. Mathis Cathedral and the Palace. The funicular was not running so we took a bus up instead of walking up all those steps. The sights from atop the hill looking over the city amazed me. The Danube ran between the ancient cities of Buda and Pest. Later, we enjoyed an hour-long boat ride on the river during an unexpected rain shower. On the Buda side, the palace and church dominated the scenery while the Parliament building added an air of majesty to the Pest side. We got to witness the arrival of the Thai President at the palace with lots of pomp and ceremony. The tram back and forth along the riverbanks gave us many opportunities to enjoy the Easter markets and breathtaking sight.
On our second day, we visited the local market just down the street from the hotel. We also opted for a day of relaxation visited one of the thermal baths. The bath house was a treat topped off with a relaxing massage to relieve our tired muscles. Once again, I found the old world style of the buildings impressive. We kept our pace slower which made for a great, restful visit. I enjoyed the city but not as much as some of the others from this trip. If we had spent more time, we might have journeyed outside the city to see the surrounding areas. For us, two full days is all we required to see everything.
As expected, Hungary was less expensive than other places and our wallets thanks us for the break. Several areas only accepted cash, so we did visit an ATM to get local currency. The metro systems provided an easy and inexpensive way to get around. When in town, make sure to try the local food, especially the goulash. We took advantage of the lower cost and had some laundry done instead of hand washing them. Visiting the baths and the massage also were much cheaper than prices at home for another bargain.
It rained each day, so we ducked into little bars or hotel lobbies to enjoy a coffee till the storms passed. Spending time watching the world go by provides a great way to spend the afternoon. Another option to save money is to visit the island in the middle of the river. It offers many activities like walking, jogging or bike riding. Gas cost $4.95 per gallon, milk cost $3.08 per gallon and bread cost $0.80 per loaf.
Join me next week for a look at Zurich and Italy
Yvonne – #blogger, #speaker, and #author
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
100% of the proceeds from sales of my book, Turning Mountains Into Molehills, go to help the orphans at Orphan Relief Effort, Inc