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long weekend in Budapest

Author: kATHLEEN HIGGINS
Date of Trip: January 2008



Arrival at Budapest airport was quick, easy and so civilized, to be met by a charming young man holding up our names, and leading us to an immaculate(prebooked and inexpensive) Mercedes. He speedily drove us to one of the most amazing hotels we've ever stayed in, the deliciously art deco Hotel Gellert, a positive palace of a building overlooking the Danube. The Ruritanian-uniformed doorman ushered us in, we were welcomed with a delicious glass of Tokai wine and shown to our huge, 60's style room , with grand stone balcony.

Next morning, donning our fluffy toweling gowns, we went down in the gloriously antiquated iron lift to the Thermal baths- as decadent as any Rome could have provided, mosaics, columns, beautifully tiles, and with pools galore, from bracing to hot. We felt we had stepped back in time . Later, fortified with a very substantial breakfast eaten in an enormous chandeliered dining room, we sallied forth to take the tram to the Castle, with the Royal Palace, National Gallery and stupendous city views on offer. Budapest proved to be a wonderful grand city, with amazing buildings at every turn, friendly people, quirky museums and markets evoking yesteryear. Public transport was an easy way to get around, and it was impossible to get lost, as carrying a map seemed to be the signal for kind people to help. Quirky bars and cafes abound, and we spent a happy morning sampling a huge range of Hungarian wines in the cellars of the Hungarian wine Institute. We were sad to leave such an unexpectedly delightful city, for our 3 very inexpensive days whizzed by.

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