Saturday, August 19, 2006

Postcard from Budapest: Day Two

Our hotel rooms as viewed from the Peste side of the Danube and the Chain Bridge

I was up earlier than intended (6am) to catch the sunrise but initial plans to have an early start BEFORE breakfast somehow fell apart. We headed off to St Margaret's Island - bang in the middle of the Danube and about 5 km in circumference. The plan was to hire bikes for an hour to view it but we arrived before the place opened at 10am. This meant we got the chance to see 'Hungary's biggest fountain' with a special show that attempted to co-ordinate classical music with a water display. Without coloured lights to help, we found ourselves incredibly underwhelmed, but it passed time until the bike rental store magically appeared from nowhere bang on the dot of 10am.

Hungary's biggest fountain

The bikes were great fun. They were battered and wonky as hell, with brakes that didn't really work, but a bargain at about £2 for an hour, and a great way to do a round-trip of the island, which is very green and consists mainly, it seemed, of tourist stands selling drinks and the odd attraction ('Budapest Beach! The zoo! A sports centre!). It must be fantastic to work in the City and have this large area on your doorstep at weekends.

Mum cycling

We then used trams to get over to a high class shopping centre for Mum to get some expensive perfume. Despite advertising itself as open the place was closed - the St Stephens Day celebrations seem to have started early. Mum satisfied herself with buying some ribbons for making cards from one of the market stalls along the river bank at a bargain price instead. We headed over the Chain Bridge, which has been closed to traffic since we arrived, and took the Funiculaire (apparently operated since 1870) up to the hill on which our hotel is based, accidentally buying a ticket for the Folk Arts Festival in the process, so we're headed off there late this afternoon after a little siesta as the heat is unbearable after noon.

The Funiculaire

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