The unnerving, obnoxious cry of my alarm disturbs what must have been a maximum of 30 minutes sleep, signalling the beginning of my hopefully stress free journey to Hungary. A walk through London at 4.30am through somewhat suspicious back streets (thanks google maps) to get the bus, and I am Luton bound. Delirious with lack of sleep, I keep one eye firmly on the road; the only time you will enjoy a peaceful London, with night worker’s from the tube slipping off home to bed, and I become all too aware of a night shift life I would not like to lead. I’m lucky to be escaping for a few days.
Or so i thought. Cut to the plane, and every attempt at escaping the 18 man strong stag team has been thwarted. They are relentless throughout the flight; louder and more obnoxious than my alarm, not only in voice, but falling all over the cabin, drinking too much, and thinking it original to claim quite so loudly that they were nearly sick when the plane went through turbulence. A screaming child at this point would have been a breath of fresh air.
But then I’m here: Eastern Europe; we’ve never met and I’m glad I’ve rectified that. You are nothing if not highly dramatic in your aspect. A few surly airport people later, picking and choosing how much English they know, and I am on the bus and then the metro heading to my destination, right in the centre of town. A quick read of my friend’s top tips, and it appears I’m staying off one of the main, more attractive roads, Andráddy út, leading up to the main park.
So far so good; it is hot, it is already impressive, it is vastly different from anywhere I’ve ever been, and feels almost like a throw back to post war times. Many of the buildings are very dark, looming over you and crowding in, though at the end of the long, straight streets, the mountains of Buda dominate the landscape, almost as a comfort blanket reminding you nature is still at hand.
Home is easily found and happily welcomed in, and then there is exploring to be done. I currently find myself most excited by the thought of huge natural thermal baths (particularly the hottest and most beautiful, very near me, Széchenyi baths) and am very glad it was trousers I forgot to bring, and not my bikini, which was the first thing in my (impressively) tiny bag. Even my host remarked that she’d never seen such light packing (I must be growing up).
Wandering the streets allows you to stumble on many beautiful sights, none of which are particularly famous but all worth a look. I feel a bike hire day may be a good idea, and am delighted to spy the Hungarian equivalent to Boris bikes; Franz bikes?
My tired ramblings take me to the park, where it is high time to rest up and enjoy the ambience of the city on top of the hill. It is very peaceful; unusual to be in the heart of a massive city and feel like this. I carry on to more familiar touristic landmarks, such as the stunning Vajdahunyad Castle, a plethora of different styles ranging from gothic to renaissance, and then the familiar Heroes Square (it feels like Trafalgar Square, hence the familiarity). Following a brief, broken conversation with the ticket office about the opening times of the Museum of Fine Art, it turns out I am not in the Museum of Fine Art, hence our differing opening times. I decide I am too tired and hungry (and therefore verging on hangry) and need to return back, hopefully to an empty flat to make my supper. My wish is granted, and all that calls for tonight, is a good book and some catching up on sleep.
20 minutes after I have finished my supper, I realise that despite my rather loud singing round the flat, my wish wasn’t quite as granted as I thought, and someone was there with all the lights off. Ah well, they are probably used to these crazy English travellers.