The last day in Hungary had to be spent doing some touristy shiz, so we left our bags in the luggage store, hopped on a metro (our feet were walked out!) and headed towards the central market hall. One recurring theme on this trip has to be Luci exclaiming at how easy everything is, and navigating the Hungarian underground was no exception. Within 10 minutes we emerged into brilliant sunshine by the Danube and were soon meandering the many fruit, veg and ‘tourist tat’ stalls of the citys main market.
Having been strongly recommended the street food style vendors of the upper floors, breakfast was our first port of call. “We can see how much we have left to spend on souvenirs, after breakfast’ says Tig, as we strolled by delicious looking dishes of all shapes and sizes. Around halfway through the stalls my eyes focused on a huge glass of fruit filled lemonade, just as Luci’s honed in on a stuffed cabbage…we’d found ‘the one’! Not really sure of the system, but seeing some huge portions around, we decided to share a single plate….stuffed cabbage, sourkraut, mixed salad, a sprinkle of olives…then time for the bill. That little lot came to £16, making it by far and beyond the most expensive meal of the trip so far…most others haven’t reached £15 for both of us!
Stomachs full and souvenirs purchased we had a decision to make…trains to Bratislava left at 1.25, 3.25 and 5.25…which one to choose? Enjoying the stunning sunshine and generally atmosphere of the city too much to rush we settled on the middle option, with the later as a backup in case of calamity. Across the river from our sunspot Tig spied a fairytale castle carved into the cliff edge, worth a look. It turned out to be a church carved into the caves, which shares a name with one of the saddest Welsh legends; Gellért…but is apparently a Hungarian form of Gerard, named after someone who was thrown to their death from the hill above. Great bedtime story huh? It is thought the spring within these caves was the source of the nearby Gellért Baths. We overheard a tour guide telling their group that the Red Army had closed off the church in the 1950’s with a huge wall of concrete, and it had only reopened in 1991 after the fall of the wall. It’s amazing how recently all these things happened, and how different life was here just a short while ago.
A leafy green park surrounded the cave, so off we set in the general direction of up, up, and more up! 235m of up (I felt like I was back on the inca trail) until we reached the Liberty Statue, built to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary. She’s a pretty impressive lady, touring over the Danube and visible from most spots on both the Buda and Pest sides.
Having walked, shopped, gazed and sightseen it was most definitely time for coffee…which may have accidentally become cocktails, and lunch. Well, Hungarian Florint wasn’t going to get us far in Slovakia now was it! Watching further preparations for the Palinka Festival whilst catching some rays and sipping on Budapests versions of Tom Collins and Espresso Martini we weren’t sure we’d ever be ready to leave…but the next country was calling, to Bratislava!
We arrived at the international station around 10 to 5 and located the ticket office, which operated a cheese counter esque system where you take a ticket and wait. Our number was 318…the current number 303…time till we’ve missed the train…29 minutes. This was going to be fun! The agonising seconds stretched out even more by the fact that everything here was done by hand…where was no computer, no ticket printing; our lovely helpful ticket lady wrote them all manually, stopping for a chat with her friend midway through to really add to the drama of running for a train. But we made it, phew!
Enjoying the sunset, the last of our polish snacks, and for me writing blogs, the 2 and a half hour journey was over in no time. Country and city number 4 was beneath our feet! Our hostel is located around 2 minutes walk from the station, so within 10 minutes we were safely encamped in the Italy room of Hostel Possonium, enjoying the wonderful graffiti left behind by some truly charming previous travellers. Just to give you a brief snapshot…from my bed I can see 4 penis’s and multiple 4 letter words including the C-bomb. Also, Rob and Joe would like you to know that together they are ‘prankenstein’…I could go on. But the beds are comfy, and the garden bar outside offered a free welcome drink and some great stories from the bartender, a local guy called Lucas. Lucas has worked in/around this hostel for 9 years, but tonight was his last shift…which may explain why instead of 1 free shot we had 4, and he let us go behind the bar to make our own waffles. What a dude!
Having ascertained that most of what there is to see in Bratislava can be done in just over an hour we’ve decided to add an extra city (country 29 baby!!) to our list and pop over to Vienna for the day tomorrow. Why not hey?