Recently , I was lucky enough to be invited by Emirates and Tourism Hungary to spend 5 nights in Budapest and 2 nights in Dubai on the way home.
Let’s start with Emirates. I have flown them a few times now and they have always been consistent with great aircraft, food & service. They are such a big airline and it’s great to see them succeeding and growing their European Network into places like Budapest. Budapest is also happy about this.
The aircraft from Dubai to Budapest is still an older fit out in business class and economy doesn’t have the on demand entertainment but for the short distance it wasn’t a problem. We experienced a mix of economy and business on both the 777-300ER and the A330-200.
Dubai airport is till one massive airport with thousands of people, check in took a little longer here but noticed the introduction of Smart Gate here also for Australian passport holders. ( along with some others) We didn’t get to use it as we were escorted through the express lane with a representative from Arabian Adventures.
Arrival into Budapest, airport easy to navigate and found our trusty guide Andres who would be with us for the week. We were then whisked away to our hotel , The Hilton Budapest which is in the sleepy castle district of Budapest on the “Buda” side. It’s a large hotel with beautiful views back over the “pest” side of the city.
After a quick shower and change we were off to the Four Seasons Gresham for a delicious lunch and site tour. Such a beautiful hotel with a prime location in front of the Chain Bridge.
From our here our Budapest Tuk Tuk’s http://budapesttuktuk.hu/en collected us from here and whizzed us around the city and up to a great viewing point on the buda side. Although it was cold, blankets (and Palinka) were supplied and it was a really fun way to get us around the city. Also a brilliant way to shake of any kind of lingering jetlag…
Next we were off for a walk through town with a visit to St Stephens Cathedral, very impressive even if we do get to get a lot of Cathedrals and Churches. Our guide Andres seemed to have caught on we all like coffee…. And cakes… Our next stop was to have dessert (before dinner of course) at the famous Gerbeaud Café .
After coffee we continued to the Kempinski hotel Cornivus for a site inspection and a dinner… ( more food ) . I really liked the location of the Kempinski, on the doorstep of fashion street and walking distance to everything. The bistro for dinner was modern and very cool. The hotel has just had a large refurbishment.
Morning site Site inspection at the Sofitel Hotel Chain Bridge. This used to be the old PanAM building back the 70’s as you can probably tell by the outside of the building. The hotel is everything you would expect from a Sofitel, well located, modern rooms with all the facilities you need. This hotel is very popular with Australians.
Next we were off to visit the Hungarian Parliament. What an impressive building. This is probably the most iconic landmark in Budapest and is the 2nd largest in the world next to London. Some say Buenos Aires is second but our guide assured us it was Budapest. We had a great VIP tour with easy entry and insights into world of Hungarian politics. Not a bad place to go to work everyday. There is a changing of the guard regularly out the front.
From here we took a much longer walk through town to discover the Great Market Hall.
This is a very traditional market located in a beautiful building full of handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, and of course Salami by the bucket load. We enjoyed Hungarian cuisine at Fakanál Restaurant which was very enjoyable in a modern yet traditional setting. More wine, more food.
Next we took a walk on the Andrássy Avenue, avenue of villas, mansions and luxurious shops, and a part of the Unesco World Heritage. Next was a visit the Hungarian State Opera House, not before stopping for a (another) coffee at a beautiful coffee house you would normally just walk by. Located in the back of a book shop is the Lotz Hall Book Café.
We were all looking forward to the next part, a visit to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath’s. This is one of Hungary’s biggest treasures. The healing waters are found through thermal springs all over the country. The Szechenyi is one of the biggest with pools at all different temperatures. Pools outside too, not so fun getting out of them in 8 degree weather. But the building the change “cabins” are all a great experience.
We had a quick drive past Heros Square, an important landmark in Budapest.
After our thermal healing it was off to Gundel restaurant for dinner. Gundel is one of the most famous restaurants in Budapest. It was an experience that’s for sure. A lovely property and nice people but the Goose Liver Foie Gras as the house specialty I cannot say the same for. We all felt terrible as no one could eat it… it was pretty much raw but provided us with comedy for the rest of the trip.
The following day we had a site inspection of the Marriott in the morning followed by a one on one workshop with Hungary’s best DMC’s ( Destination Management Companies) it was a full on session but got to meet and talk to many interesting people and I now have some great connections for touring, groups and private touring in Hungary and its surrounding countries.
Lunch today (more food) at First Strudel House of Pest. This was a really nice meal and recommended to try out. As part of a group you can even help roll the pastry for the strudel. From the looks of it this place is still popular even amongst locals.
Off we were again for a walk on the Buda side of the city, seeing the Varkert Bazaar, the Royal Palace, Fishermans Bastion and the beautiful Matthias Church. The Church was next to our hotel and it was very beautiful, I have never seen the inside of a church that looks like that
Another site inspection at our home base the Hilton, followed by a pre dinner drink at the Halaszbastya Restaurant with a view to die for! Dinner was a small but delightful restaurant called Pierrot , located in the castle district not too far from the Hilton.
The next morning we had a quick walk of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest, a great area that is much like our Brunswick Street/ Fitzroy area. A little bit hipster with the famous Ruin Bars, multiple cafes, restaurants and local design stores.
Next we hit the countryside to a town called Godollo to see the Royal Palace of Godollo which is important because of its Palace Architecture. We learnt stories of the famous Sissi the former Hungarian Queen. ( no photos we allowed inside the palace)
Then it was off the Lázár Equestrian Park to discover the centuries-old Hungarian equestrian and you guessed it… more food… so much food. It was enjoyable to see the horses in action and also visit them in the stables. Unless you are a horse fanatic Im not sure I would take a day out of my itinerary to come and do this. If you were passing through here on your way to other parts of Hungary then yeah it would be great for a stop over.
Our last night we were to cruise the Danube on the Legenda panoramic boat. A bit of a traditional tourist attraction but enjoyable all the same and great to see Budapests landmarks at night and from the view of the river. After dinner we hit the ruin bars for our last night in Budapest.
We only had one full day in Dubai and as i have been here twice before it always a changing and developing city. We had a quick city tour, a visit to Dubai Mall ( massive) and then back for Lunch at the Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers. The afternoon we were off on a Dune Safari with Arabaian Adventures followed by dinner in the desert with shisha, camels and henna tattoos.
We did get a chance to check out Cielo Sky bar at the Dubai Creek Golf Club. A great way to end our trip.
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