Friday, August 26, 2011


Saturday 9 July
After approximately a twelve hour flight we arrived at Zurich and transferred to a Swiss Air flight to Budapest - a flight of approximately one and a half hours. Zurich Airport was a surprise with a train taking us to the required area. It was an amazing flight. It was cloudy when we left Zurich and then the clouds disappeared and left us with spectacular views of the Swiss mountains, some with snow at the peaks, and pretty valleys with houses and farmland. Closer to Budapest the land was flat and divided into farms with other areas covered with forests. About 15 minutes out of Budapest there was a large mass of water - need to find out what it is. There were also areas of water that looked the shapes of paddocks.

After twenty-eight hours of travelling we arrived we were a little tired but it had all gone smoothly. The miracle was that our baggage arrived with us. We had had security checks at all the airports but Customs at Budapest we were told once we had our bags to just walk through the 'Nothing to Declare' gate and keep walking which we did. I guess that they are used to tourists. We then met the APT rep and four of the tour party from Adelaide - Gloria and Neil and Fay and Max. On the road from the airport we passed lots of depressing looking dull square or rectangular buildings, often covered with graffiti, quite depressing, but once we reached the main part of the city it was an entirely different story. We were taken to the Sofitel Hotel but had to wait until 12 before we could go to our rooms for a shower and change of clothes. We therefore explored the area of Budapest around the hotel and by the river.
It is an incredible city with fantastic architecture around every corner. Took lots of photos, including photos of the boat which is to take us on the adventure down the rivers to Amsterdam.
Later in the afternoon we went out for further exploration. At one stage we looked out the hotel window to see and hear a large group of Harri Krishnas processing through the streets. We later came across them again in a city square.
Generally though there were not many people around - definitely not as busy as Melbourne on a Saturday - however the evening was a different story with small outdoor restaurants crowded with patrons. It is logical that people would come out in the evening when it is a little cooler than in the middle of the day.
The weather was very hot (around 40 degrees the first day and similar temperature the second) especially compared to the freezing weather we have recently had in Melbourne. As well as the incredible architecture other impressions are of a city that is very clean and has lots of paved areas and squares for pedestrian access.
After dinner at a very busy outside restaurant we went for a walk along the riverbank to look at the impressive well lit buildings on the Buda side of the river, as well as the bridges. The river boats were also lit up and some were travelling along the river - it was a great sight. At one section of the riverbank is a sculpture of shoes of all sizes - a reminder of the Jews who were shot and pushed into the river during World War II - another slice of Budapest history.

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