Budapest, Vienna, Prague (05.13.2006 – 05.24.2006)

This was a fantastic itinerary. Easy travelling, perfect time of year. Being able to compare the old areas of Budapest, Vienna, and Prague within a short time frame is a great way to see the area. They are all suprisingly different. Prasky hrad (the old castle in Praha) may be the argest castle complex in europe. Still, I found Vareghy in Buda to be more interesting. For one, there is still a living, working town within the castle walls of Vareghy. The Hapsburg complex in Vienna exudes an extraordinary degree of refinement which comes alive even more so in early morning and late afternoon sun. But the convoluted streets of the Stare Mesto in Praha are unmatched by either Budapest or Vienna. Daily summary:
5.13.2006 Left JFK for Budapest
5.14.2006 Arrived Budapest. Explored Vaci utca, Raday Utca, and District V
5.15.2006 Wandered around Vareghy in Buda
5.16.2006 Walked up and around Andrassy utca to the City Park, and took the waters at Szechenyi Furdo
5.17.2006 Early train from Buda to Wien. Quick survey of Innere Stadt
5.18.2006 Walked around Hofsburg area and Innere Stadt of Wien
5.19.2006 Train to Breclav, C.R. and connection to Praha. Wandered Stare Mesto
5.20.2006 Explored Stare Mesto -- old town area of Prague, Jewish quarter, etc
5.21.2006 Walked through Prazky Hrady (Prague Castle) in AM, Mala Strana in PM
5.22.2006 Canvassed beautiful, leafy, residential aread of Vinrhady up through Wencelas Square. PM walked through Karlova area.
5.23.2006 Long train ride from Praha to Buda, gulyas for dinner
5.24.2006 BUD -> JFK -> SLC -> PC

Exchange rates

Budapest, Hungary (05.14.2006 – 05.17.2006)

Budapest feels like home to me. People are friendly. The city is big enough without being too large. The mass transit is perfect. The food is down-home and filling. There's something about Budapest that feels very organic. It has a simple, easy going style without the pretentiousness present in other European cities. I had a great time exploring the more historic areas of Buda and Pest (although on this trip I largely missed seeing much of the residential areas). My last night after returning from Praha was capped with a traditional meal of gulyasleves served in a small pot, unicum, and a couple of "pohor sor", a demonstration of folk dancing, followed by fireworks over Pest! Highlights: Drinking unicum and Soproni beer on Vacay ut. Playing soccer with kids outside the Music Academy near Andrassy ut. Exploring Varhegy. Traditional gulyasleves. Getting a haircut in downtown Pest. Wandering through the main market at the southern end of Vacay ut. Hanging out in the Sorozos and Borozos (beer/wine bars) in the evenings.

District V, Andrassy utca

Busy day! Last full day in Budapest until next week. Plan of attack: 1. Gerbaud on Vaci ut. for coffee / pastries / work 2. M1 (yellow) to Szechenyi Furdo in Varosliget (city park) 3. Explore Andrassy ut. Ended up following this basic plan. Hit the Szechenyi Furdo in the Park. More festive than Gellert but not as attractive. Walked back along Andrassy and all its great side streets. Memorable side streets included Liszt Ferenc Ter with gardens, fountains, and side walk cafes. Kicked a soccer ball around for about an hour with some kids outside the Music Academy in the lat afternoon sun. Very fun. Dinner on Raday ut.

Varhegy and central Buda

Explored the amazing castle complex of Varhegy and central Buda. Stunning views of Parliament and Pest across the Danube. Stopped for a coffee and palinka at a cafe by the gothic church and in the walkways underneath the Fisherman's Bastion. After exploring Varhegy in depth, walked down the terraced path to the Vizivaros area of Buda, then along the Danube down to the Gellert baths for my first Budapest hot springs experience. Beautiful! Crossed over the Chain bridge and walked through the markets along the Danube. Near the Parliament building I stumbled across a salon and stopped in for a haircut. Some small communication difficulties but ended up getting a really good haircut. Ended up going out for drinks with the stylist over near Raday! Travel can be equally stimulating and frustrating. There is always more to see, more to do, more restaurants, bars and food to discover. There is always the excitment of experiencing new things but also wondering if you've chosen the right path. Clearly, four days in Budapest is not going to be enough.