This is a big thank you and a few thoughts on what was an almost indecently short amount of time in Budapest. Just saying now that I was entranced and will be back.
In order to make it financially feasible for them to go, I organized a trip for 14 people that started in Vienna as part of a music festival. Following that, we had 2 nights in Budapest, meaning about a day and a half. It was that long or nothing, so we did what we could. It was a first time for everyone and several said they would be back for more.
We arrived by train at Keleti. I had saved all the wonderful advice I came across in the Hungary forum and had thought we would just call City Taxi and make the trip to the K+K Opera Hotel easy for some of the less mobile travelers. For some reason, the call didn’t go through (not using my phone or plan, so I don’t know), so we followed excellent directions to the metro instead.
Interesting note: we got off the train on the side of the station, which looked abandoned & boarded up. It wasn’t till our return that everyone saw the other facets of the lovely building. It made quite a contrast and provided a laugh at ourselves about first impressions.
The metro information office was wonderful - had free WiFi available as well. I took a number for English help, waited for a few minutes, bought our 24 hr passes, and used James’ step by step instructions to get to the K+K = flawless. :)
I loved the Budapest metro. I am directionally challenged but it makes sense to me. Stops and directions were clearly indicated and seeable and nothing felt like a maze, which is sometimes the case underground. We took care to stay legal with passes and tickets and had to show them intermittently - usually at busier stops.
After check in, we hopped Line 1 and went all the way to Hero’s Square. The square and the park beyond were a memorable and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. Everyone wandered in different directions or sat by the water after seeing the statues. It was interesting, relaxing, and beautiful - a good start.
We then took Line 1 back 2 stops and walked about 5 minutes over to Kiraly100 Gastropub, where we had a reservation. It was a great choice for us. They were ready, were patient and efficient (groups are not easy), and the food was really good. No one was less than happy ( and that’s saying something). The decor was a bit dim (in a good way), lots of wood, interesting installations hanging from the ceiling, wine was good, and it was comfortable. After eating, we decided to put 3 of our less mobile in a taxi. I had read the warnings about un-regulated taxis; but the one we stopped right outside the restaurant agreed a price of €5 for three, which was definitely worth it to them. The rest of us walked 15-20 min back. James is not joking about the pull and elegance of Andrássy Út, even at 10pm.
The next morning we had a 4 hour guided tour scheduled. Our original guide came down with a stomach bug the previous night but found us a replacement. She used our transportation passes to good advantage (used the metro and busses to create less walking) and showed us the Buda Castle area: the castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, St Matthias Church, and back down. The views were beautiful.
In the afternoon, I ran over to Keleti to print our train tickets for the following morning (makes me feel far better to be prepared ahead with a group!) and others had a leisurely outdoor lunch or headed to the Liszt Museum or just wandered. The MAV website was harder for me to navigate, so I had worried about the ticket machines but with the codes, it was simple. And there was always someone around to ask. I had 3 codes, having purchased tickets in 3 batches, and a nice employee checked with me to see if I needed help, as I was making sure I had finished. It was interesting that I had only 3 tickets, since there was one ticket for each set I purchased (2 for 5 people/each and one for 4 people). (Cont)