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Budapest

I am attending the following event in September with my shutterbug son. We'll then stay a few more days to gallavant around town. Should be fun, and it's going to be great to do what I missed when I was there a few years ago. All suggestions are welcome,especially any tips for using the public transportation system.
Thanks in advance. www.autismcongress2013.eu

Posted by
12320 posts

Liverpool, Texas?? Really? The Budapest metro, as metro systems go this one is very human and very easy. If you are going to be there for any extended period of time at all you want to get a 24 hour or a 72 hour Travel Card. Don't confuse this with "The Budapest Card" which is a lot more expensive but does provide some other discounts. I was never able to recover the additional cost with the discounts it provided. The metro company website once had a great page on the cost of the tickets but I went tonight to see if the rates had changed since April and I can't find the ticket / card passes http://www.bkv.hu/en/. Still, keep an eye on it as they may fix it. We've been to Bpest more times than I can count and we still take a neck lanyard with a credit card size clear plastic sleeve at the end into which we the travel card. Then we hang it around our neck and know we only have to pull it out at check points. Easier than searching pockets or pulling out wallets. With the Travel Card you will be able to hop on and off any bus, underground metro or tram anywhere in town. The one exception is the funicular up to the castle hill. If you use individual tickets they will cost you 320 ft. and you must work your way to the validation machines on the trams and metros, the ticket and then punch it to validate it. See the Travel Cards are a lot easier. Be sure to ride the M1 metro as it is the oldest underground on the continent and be sure to ride the tram that runs the river front on the Pest Side. Actually any tram is a fun way to see the city. Go get lost and then all you have to do is get on it going the other direction to get home. What other tips do you need?

Posted by
19 posts

Yes, James, there is a Liverpool, Texas. But Budapest is a lot more interesting. I was there four years ago for two days, which isn't anywhere close to enough time. So this time will be different. Eight nights, seven full days. Still not enough time, but we can always save the pennies and go back. Thanks for the information about the transit system. So if you get the multi-day passes you do not have to get them validated with the little hole punch thingamajig? Or do you? I guess we really need to know where the camera supply stores are, just in case some equipment gets wet or broken or something. An unpleasant thought, but better an expensive hassle than lost photographs. Oh, and parks. Nature. What are some good parks to look for birds and bugs, and I dunno, hedgehogs or other cool little varmints like that? I'm assuming armadillos don't live in Hungary. :-)

Posted by
12320 posts

Carol, There is also a Frisco, Texas which isn't far from where I live. First my story because I think you might relate, then I will see if I can help:
It was an early spring evening in Budapest; we had escaped from Vienna not 5 hours earlier and we now found ourselves standing on Gellert Hill looking down on the lights of the city. Without thought or consideration I muttered "we're coming back". What was most amazing was that despite the fact that we hadn't been in Budapest for a full hour yet, and we had seen only what lies between the Keleti Railroad Station and Gellert Hill; my observations was both unconsidered and in retrospect ... obvious. It took us 2 years to get back to Budapest,then 18 months, then 12 months, then 9 months and then we purchased our first apartment in the part of town we enjoyed the most. First it is our escape and second it a business that supports our trips "Home". For the transit we take neck laynards with clear plastic credit card size holders at the end. We slip the transit cards in the clear holder and put it around our neck and pull it out when questioned. It's easier than fumbling around in pockets. So the answer is yes, you don't have to "validate" the cards in the orange Kaplunk machine. I am not certain where there is a quality camera shop. Probably in one of the malls. I will look and see for you. There are three parks I would suggest, the best weather in Budapest is September / October but the parks are prettier in the spring and in the dead of the winter. First Margaret Island. Nature, nature and more nature; wonderful place. The next great park is the City Park at the end of Andrassy ut. Finally, and while this may sound a little strange; Kerepesi Cemetery. It's stunning. Let me know where you are staying and I can give you directions. Anything else I can help you with?

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19 posts

We're staying in an apartment near Szabadsag Ter, about a block from the river, between the Chain Bridge and the humungous Parliament building. Our first three mornings there we have to get to the Congress Center on the Buda side, but we don't have to get there at the crack of dawn. We also want to visit the House of Terror and the Synagogue. That's a place that really caught my eye a few years ago, but we didn't have time to go. My son is excited about going to Memento Park. I'm excited to go back. The cemetery sounds interesting. Often they are fascinating places.
We're going to Bela Bartok's house. I'm a music nerd, so that's a must see. I've even been listening to Radio Hungary lately via my phone, and Civic Radio FM 98 was playing some fantastic jazz. So, there's a few random thoughts. Thanks again, James, for being generous with your information. 'Preciate it.

Posted by
12320 posts

Carol, that's right you found a place in a great location. My only concern might be the construction that is going on in front of and beside the Parliament. They are building an underground parking lot and developing a new park. Until then the tram that comes from the direction of the Chain Bridge stops way short of the parliament (or it did in April). You will be pretty close to the tram that crosses over to Margaret Island and on to Buda and the M1 to the City Park isnt too far either. The cemetery is a little tougher to get to but still not hard and well worth the effort. This cemetery is park full of outrageous monuments from the past 170 years. I could spend an entire day there and still not see 2/3rd of it. Ghost is playing at the Operett in September (subtitled in English), and Falstaff and Giselle are playing at the Opera. The Opera and the Operett are a must if you enjoy music. Also hit Spinoza's if you are there on a Friday night and hear the Klezmer Band (advance reservations required). Finally, if you are in town on the 20, 21 or 22 there is the National Gallop a horse race around Hero's Square. Yes, the House of Terror is a must (closed Monday). Fantastic Museum. As for the holocaust museum, it is well done but I took a lot out of me. The great Synagogue is splendid but you want to see the Rumbach synagogue too. And you might even want to wander up to Vasvari Pal utca and visit the the synagogue at number 5 Vasvari Pal utca. Wave, as my apartment is across the street. There are a couple of good jazz clubs in town but they haven't published their September program yet. Remind me in August and I will look them up.

Posted by
19 posts

Construction??? Oh well, I like waking up to city sounds more than an alarm clock anyway. If we blast across the river before sunrise maybe we'll get some nice sunrise shots. We'll miss the horses at Hero's Square by a few days. Phooey, that sounds really neat. I'll try to remember to wave if we still have our wits about us after seeing the Holocaust-related museums. It's going to be a harrowing day, but we met a survivor near Houston a few years ago, plus my nieces have Jewish ancestry, so I feel we owe it to them (and ourselves) to visit these places. It's one thing to read history and watch the documentaries. It's another to step on the same surface where an event happened. If it gives us nightmares, it gives us nightmares. And it should give us appreciation for others who experienced horror and somehow are still able to feel anything but contempt for our species. And then we hit the ruin pubs.
Is there a market close to where we are staying? We'll go to the big one eventually, but if there's one more convenient to us I'd like to check it out.

Posted by
12320 posts

That market is not much closer if any than the Great Market but it has fewer tourists, better prices and is more "real" in some regards. Having said that the Great Market is very much a Hungarian destination as well. You are also not that far from Falk Miska the main antiques street in town. Don't be fooled by the apparent size of a few of the shops as the basements can be huge. I wouldn't worry too much about the construction you are not that close to it and the worst it is going to do is make getting to Margaret Island a little longer (if the #2 Tram is still blocked when you get there). Salzburg ter has this wonderful fountain that shuts off as you approach so you can walk into the center of it. The kids love it. Then there is the statue of Ronald Reagan walking from the Parliament to the US Embassy (or is it to the Russian War Memorial? - great fun). I hope some of this has been helpful and can you just imagine the help you would have gotten if you had rented my place ;-) Just kidding. It's all good.

Posted by
19 posts

Next time I'll know about your place. Thanks again for all the information. Szia!

Posted by
12 posts

Hi - I also am planning first time visit to Budapest in early October. Flying in to Prague, flying home from Budapest. I see the list of day trips James recommends. If you had to suggest 1 day trip to an interesting town, what would it be? Thanks.

Posted by
12320 posts

Day trip I would say Szentendre. Thee are a lot of options but for a first time visit this one is pretty obvious. I would take the HEV up to Szentendre about noon, spend the afternoon in the shops on the square and along the Danube and then take the Boat back to Budapest. Wait! You said October. I think the boat stops running at the end of September which is silly because the weather in Budapest (on average) is temperate at least through mid October and sometimes later. So take the HEV both ways (30 minutes each way). Unless you are spending more than 3 full days in Budapest there is generally enough to keep most people's attention without leaving town. Another good choice would be to take the train to Gyor (1.5 hours) and then hire a taxi to take you to the Pannonhalma Archabbey http://bences.hu/lang/en/en. This is a great overnight trip. Leave Budapest early in the morning, see the Archabbey and bum around a lovely little Baroque central district with old fortification walls and two rivers, spend the night in a 18th cloister and then take the morning train back to Budapest. http://klastrom.hu/

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12 posts

Thanks, James. We arrive in Budapest on a Tuesday and leave Sat (4 days, 4 nights). Appreciate the tips.

Posted by
12320 posts

Four days and four nights really means you have one half day and three full days (I am guessing). Budapest can easily keep you busy for 3.5 days with out a day trip, but I understand wanting to take a lot in. Do the Szentendre trip the day before you leave if you feel like you must or haven't been seduced by what is in Budapest. You can do Szentendre in half a day and it's pretty nice. Take the M2 Metro line to Batthyány tér metro stop in Buda. You just crossed under the Danube River so you are deep, deep, deep; so the first step is the steep, steep, steep escalator up. At the top is a ticket window. I've bought metro tickets there but I can remember if that is the same window I bought the HEV (commuter train) tickets. Pretty sure yes. If not just keep your eyes open as you follow the HEV signs to the commuter train rails (and there are ticket machines if you want to try and navigate them). Also, if you have a Travel Card make sure you show it as part of the HEV ride is covered by the Card. Once on the commuter train it's about a 30 minute trip. From the train station in Szentendre walk north and take every right until you reach Fo ter.

Posted by
819 posts

Hi,
I have a map I built myself that has all the subways, trams, and buses that a tourist should know about, plus some of the tourist destinations. email me at wmcca@hotmail.com and ask for my Budapest map. Yes, I know, putting my email out there...someday it will back fire. wayne iNWI

Posted by
19 posts

Hi Wayne. I'm going to e-mail you, since you offered a map. Thank you very much.

Posted by
12320 posts

He sent me a copy. It's very well done and very useful. With Wayner's permission I am going to give a copy to my vacation apartment renters.