Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 - Eastern Europe Day 14 (Budapest)

Weather forecast calls for rain today and tomorrow and so far, it is correct about today, so it is a good thing we did our outdoor sights yesterday. Today, we will visit the thermal baths and walk the Pest side of Budapest (Buda is the west side of the river and Pest is the east side).

Our first stop after breakfast is the St Stephen’s Basilica. We took some pictures from the outside and again, didn’t go in based on our peek inside and the fact that we need to pay to enter (200 Ft). It does look nice from the outside though. By now, I was equating admission prices to ice creams as weird as that sound and about 120-130 Ft gets you a nice gelato (one flavour).

St Stephen's Basilica.
Next up, the Miniversum, a sight that has a lot of miniatures of the local towns and cities and it was pretty cool to see. In each section, there are a few controls that have buttons which you can press and try to figure out what it is linked to. Some are for lights, some are for sounds, and some make the miniatures move (like helicopter propellers, trains, etc). We got here at around 11:20am and spent about 45 minutes here and it cost 1,900 Ft per adult.

Lunch was next and we went to the Book Café and made it there for 12:30pm. Come and visit even if you don’t eat here, the drinks were roughly 1,000 Ft and sandwich/salad from 1,500 – 2,000 Ft. The food was good and so was the service. I’m surprised that the food was actually a good portion, although since they don’t actually have a kitchen, they are limited to sandwiches, salads, and cakes. We ordered the prosciutto sandwiches and ham and cheese sandwiches.

Book Cafe.
Book Cafe.
The interior is really nice, it feels like you are eating in a palace. There are lots of frescos in the ceiling and there is gold gilding everywhere. It is actually looked in the Alexandra, and we walked by it thinking that it was a mall entrance. When we arrived, the entry way was open, so that anyone could just walk in and wander around and take pictures, but midway through our meal, I noticed that they roped off the entrance area, and I don’t want to sound like a snob, but gating people who weren’t going to eat there meant that there were less people wandering around and disturbing our meal. In all, it cost us 8,500 Ft for three sandwiches, one hot chocolate and two slices of cake.

Almond hot chocolate.
Prosciutto sandwich.
Ham and cheese sandwich.
Finished at 1:30pm and headed to Széchenyi thermal bathes which was another 30 minutes away by foot. It cost 4,500 Ft per adult plus locker to get in and you can stay however long you like. Initially when we asked Viktor (our innkeeper) about this place, we thought we would need reservations, but when we went, we realized that the place is enormous and I don’t think it would ever be full.

Heroes' square.
There are a lot of baths to try, all of which have varying temperatures from 20 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius, indoor and outdoor pools as well as swimming pools.

When you pay, you are given a waterproof NFC wristwatch that allows you to keep your belongs in a locker. Simply look for an open locker, put your things inside, close it and use the NFC wristband to lock it by holding it to the lock and push it in. You do the same to unlock the locker and you can do this as many times as you like. You do need to pay for towels, but you can just bring your own. And make sure to bring some flip flops.

Thermal Bath.
Overall, this is my first time doing a bath and I’m still as confused about it as I was when I went in. I just don’t understand how this is relaxing. I felt bored. I did the cold to hot to cold to hot pools and that does shock your body but I didn’t feel better (or maybe I did, but I don’t know). You are free to take pictures here since there were plenty of people with GoPros here. In the end, I think it was a good way to spend a rainy day and the girls seemed to enjoy it, so it was a good break from our touristic sight visits. All in all, we spent about 4 hours here with us leaving at 6:00pm.

Dinner was at a restaurant suggested by Allison’s brother, Szazeves Etterem, a restaurant that is over 100 years old in Pest. We ordered the Manglica medallions, goulash soup, and goose liver. It was a Friday and there was live music which was nice and we didn’t need a reservation, so we lucked out there with us arriving at 7:15pm. There is a mandatory tip here as well but it was 13%. All in all, the food was really good and I’d suggest coming here to try it. We did get a bit lost trying to find it, but in the end, we did, and I’m glad we did. It cost us 16,860 Ft.

Beer #13?
Goulash to share.
Goose liver on the left, Manglica medallions on the right.
Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church minutes from our hotel.
Tomorrow, we finish Budapest and head to Prague on the overnight train.