Thursday, January 21, 2016

Europe at Christmas {Budapest ~ Day Two}

Sunday, December 20th was my second day in Budapest, and the last day of my vacation.  I sat down on Saturday night to plot and plan my Sunday so I could maximize time on my last day.  I woke up on Sunday morning, and once again, Mother Nature had put a big old kink in my plans... it was the foggiest foggy day you could imagine.  I was pretty ticked off because weather has killed some of my vacation plans this year (cancelled boat trip around Acadia, Red Sox game...).

I regrouped and decided to go ride the tour bus around the second half.  I had a schedule and hurried down, skipping breakfast, so I could catch the correct bus.  Turns out the bus schedules are not really schedules at all I guess, so I ended up doing the full round on the bus.  I got to see lots, and almost froze to death sitting up on the upper (open) level of the bus for over 2 hours.

Gellert Hill and Statue of St. Gellert
Budapest Castle Hill Funicular
Buda Castle
Fisherman's Bastion

Matthias Church

A lot of the squares we drove by had Christmas Tree vendors

Hungarian Parliament from the Buda side of the Danube

This is Budapest-Nyugati Railway Terminal.  It just was a pretty building.
St. Stephen's Basilica (again)
Hungarian State Opera House
I liked the tree out front...

Hósök tere (Hero's Square)

This is the Keleti train station where I arrived the day before
I didn't take any pics the day I arrived, but shot a couple from the bus as we drove by
Somewhere around this point, I decided I was too cold to take pictures.  Which isn't really helpful now, but I saw some additional sights before hopping off at the Chain Bridge stop and walking back to the hotel.

I decided to go to have Sunday brunch at the hotel, but apparently you needed reservations, so I went to the hotel bar area and ordered lunch instead.  I just couldn't go back outside until I warmed up!

I had a yummy burger...
and a pretty great view of the hotel and the Christmas market.  Gresham Palace is actually on the "things to see in Budapest" lists you will find because of the Art Nouveau Architecture.
After lunch, I went back up to my room to get sufficiently attired to go back out in the cold.  It was the coldest day of the trip by far.
I headed out on foot toward Parliament

They had the guards posted around a flag pole
They started doing a little march around. 

From Parliament, I walked to Freedom Square or Liberty Square.  They have a Ronald Reagan statue...
and Soviet monument.  It is one of the only Soviet monuments that remain in Budapest.  The rest have been transferred outside of the city to Momento Park (which sadly, I didn't have time to go to).

I walked back toward the hotel since it was starting to get dark by that point (3:30 sunset is a bummer).  You can see that the fog really just hung around all day long.

I walked from the hotel toward Vörösmarty Square and the Christmas market there.

This is at another square before Vörösmarty.  This is called the Charity Tree.  It's made of wood logs, and you can pay to go inside the tree.  Once it is dismantled, they give the firewood to the needy.

This is Fashion Street in Budapest, and the Christmas lights there were shoes, purses, and other accessories.

Market stalls lined the whole center of fashion street too as it leads to Vörösmarty Square.
Vörösmarty market was quite pretty, but apparently I found it difficult to get great pics.  There was this big tree...

and decorative lights hung from all of the trees in the square

Large Advent Wreath

From Vörösmarty I walked back toward St. Stephens Basilica

Lots of interesting food and drink.  I'll be honest, at some point on the first day, I saw a sign that was translated to read "Horse Meat Sausage", and I was out.  I was scared I would be fed something I didn't want to eat, plus cold, so I decided to opt for room service for dinner.  I did get a hot drink to enjoy as I walked around.

There is a small ice skating rink around the tree...
Once I got back to the hotel, I was arranging my transport to the airport and realized that my flight had been bumped up an hour since I had booked my ticket.  So instead of an 8:20 a.m. flight on the 21st, I had a 7:15 flight.  Hello 5:00 checkout time!  UGH!  So I ordered room service and packed my bags....
Pretty fancy room service though.  They wheeled a whole table in for me, and it even had a decoration on it.
I had purchased some strudel at the market that I brought back for desert.
The Four Seasons does a nightly turndown service.  In addition to removing the throw pillows, turning down the bed, etc., they fill your ice bucket with ice and leave bottles of water on the bedside tables.  On the last night, they left these cookies too.
Here are some of my purchases from Budapest.  I got this felt heart ornament for myself and got my mom a similar star.
I also got this painted egg ornament
These are secret boxes that they make and sell in Hungary.  You have to know the secret to opening it, or you'd never get it open.  
I really wanted to buy a Herend teapot, but wasn't really sure I should be spending $400 on a teapot.  And I sure didn't want to be responsible for carrying that kind of item home.  When I got to the store on Sunday, they were already closed, so I took that as a sign.  

I really wanted to go to the Great Market Hall to shop, but had a big planning fail when I didn't notice until Saturday night that they were closed on Sunday.

Budapest was a great place to visit.  I really loved it.  I think the Four Seasons and my room balcony made it more special and was a great way to wrap up the trip.  

The next morning I left the hotel at 5:00 and made my way to the airport.  I had to fly from Budapest to London, where I had a super long layover (over 5 hours).  Here is the pic I took as we flew over Central London.  You can see the Shard sticking up there and then to the right and slightly down, Tower Bridge crossing the Thames.

I had to go through more security than you can imagine at Heathrow, which seemed odd because I flew into the exact same terminal that I was flying out of, but once I had done that, I had plenty of time to check out all the airport had to offer.  All things considered, Heathrow isn't a bad place to be stuck for a long time.  Lots of shopping and even carolers....
The weather was an issue for the flight home, so we had to go up through Scotland, across Iceland, Greenland, way up into Canada, down Hudson Bay, Wisconsin, South Dakota, etc...  There was a lot of frozen "Titanic looking" water along the way...

Thanks for following along as I recapped my trip!  It was a lot of fun and I saw some amazing places.


The Cooper Family said...

What a great trip! I've been anxiously awaiting this last post. Glad you had such a great adventure!


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