Saturday, May 10, 2008


We took the train from Paris to Munich - a smooth ride on the TGV - clean, pleasant. After a two hour wait we boarded the train for Budapest 1st class sleeper. I would hate to see 2nd class accommodations! The train had obviously been in use for many years. We had a "room" with 3 bunks - if there had been 3 of us it would have been very claustrophobic. I slept on the bottom bunk; Paul had to climb a rickety ladder to the top - almost at the ceiling. We both managed to sleep a bit better than we thought, but arrived tired in Budapest.

We rented an apartment here and it is lovely to feel, however briefly like we are living here. Part of our first day was devoted to domestic chores - finding a supermarket, negotiating shopping where language was a challenge and then laundry at our apartment. It's always interesting to see what is available foodwise in different places. We decided to have more of a down day, and even cooked our own supper. It's delightful to eat, looking out on the hills in Budapest. We even managed to take some time to play music - looking out at that spectacular view. What a joy!

In the evening we walked along the Danube which is really lovely. The important buildings are lit up and sparkle as do the bridges.

Budapest is a study in contrasts. There is a lively feel to it - even in the evenings, there are people out walking. The city itself has some majestic buildings, but many look past their prime. It is obvious that there is little money for upkeeping them and many parts of the city have a tired feel. We have walked a lot - up to the castle (well, actually we took the funicular up and walked down) and visited the history museum. We are starting to get more of a feel for the history and an understanding of the many influences on the area. The views from castle hill and from Fisherman's Bastion are breath-taking - with the Danube at your feet, then Pest and the hills in the distance. It is interesting to see the many styles of architecture, with both European and some Eastern influences.

In the evening we went to see a Hungarian folk performance - a thorough delight. The music is lively, the dancers exhausted me (never mind themselves) and the costumes were a feast for the eyes. The theatre itself was built in an opulent neo-Baroque style - fun to see.

We're taking our time, experiencing the city, stopping at a cafe and walking ..... travelling on.

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