|September 13 - Finding our Way in Budapest
Both of us were awake early! We had procured a few groceries yesterday to tide us over for breakfast! First things first - become acquainted with the city! Looking for the hop-on hop-off bus stop, we went back to the apartment to find the brochure (a 5 minute walk), we discovered we had passed the stop twice! In the meantime we stopped at a metro station to purchase metro passes (includes bus, tram, rail and metro) for 5 days. It is always an experience to use kiosks to purchase passes. This time we sought help from the person behind us in line - a student from the UK living in Budapest! We are attempting to make some sense of the currency ($1 = 300 Forint) and the language (which resembles nothing either of us recognizes). We opted for the Big Bus, which does the same routes as the more popular Hop-On Hop-Off with fewer not so new buses, however we soon discovered they are less crowded! This is a good thing as the city is full of tourists! We had noticed a Vodafone store during the tour so we hopped off to procure SIM cards for our ‘extra’ phones. Mine was relatively quick and simple, Judi B was unsuccessful as her phone was not cooperating due to the Verizon set-up Wizard that was installed on her phone.
It is now well past noon so we go in search of food and found gyro chicken sandwiches (quite tasty) and water. Nearby was a street exhibit of photos taken by the homeless. Organized by the Budapest Bike Mafia (a charitable organization), some homeless people are given single use cameras (provided by Fujifilm) to document their everyday lives.
Next stop we check out St. Istvan’s Basilica, Budapest’s largest Catholic Church which has St. István (Stephen), Hungary’s first Christian king, above the high altar. The church’s primary claim to fame is that it’s the resting place of the ‘holy right hand’ of St. István - in a jeweled box in one of the church’s chapels.
Returning to our bus we continue to Dock 11 for our 4:00 pm Danube River Cruise (included with our bus ticket). This included taking a tram (had to make use of our Metro pass). On the cruise we sat with an Australian couple on a six week vacation in Europe. It is always interesting to discover that many/most international people know so much about our government and politics and I know very little about theirs.
Now time to catch the tram home. However, as we approached the last stop we realized we had gone the wrong direction, so we reboarded the tram car to go the correct direction. Back in our neighborhood we checked out the Great Market Hall for a potential dinner spot - but nothing appealed to us. The Hungarian restaurant by our apartment caught our eye so we had a glass of wine with an order of fried goat cheese and pasta with salmon and shrimp! The waiter asked us at one point what we had ordered, we think he forgot to place our order so he gave us each a shot of Palinka (Hungarian brandy). By now it is after 10:00 pm and we are exhausted having left the apartment at 9:00 am! jc