Monday, March 19, 2012

Budapest Part 2

coffee at the Central Cafe before our trip to the Gellert
For the rest of the weekend in Budapest we took our time enjoying the city and its sights. On Saturday we spent the day at the famous Gellert Spa swimming in the pools and thermal baths, and getting massages. The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful with mosaic ceilings, tiled baths, and many pools with varying temperatures. They offer full spa services and it is very reasonably priced. The only downfall was the service at the Gellert Spa. For being world famous, you would think that the staff could at least speak English... Most of the staff members only speak Hungarian. They were all drinking coffee when we arrived, it took 30 minutes to get our tickets to enter (and that was speaking with the lady at the ticket window)... Her computer wasn't working, then the printer broke, etc, etc. When we finally had our tickets, we didn't know how to enter and we wandered around until someone stopped and offered to help us. The experience was relaxing and wonderful, but they need to train their staff to be more helpful, and they need to teach them English since people from all over the world travel there.

the entrance to the Gellert Spa

We all had a massage that day, and poor Josh came away like he was a tenderized piece of steak. He said that a 300 pound Hungarian man gave him the massage, and literally pounded on him at the end. When I saw him later he was in the hot tub trying to relax his aching muscles. The poor guy!

Restuarant 21

I finally bought a hat- it was cold!

After a nice day at the Gellert (I enjoyed it, but next time would go to a different spa), we went back to the hotel and changed for dinner. Josh and I took Marina and Andrea to a fantastic restaurant called 21 in the old town of Buda. We didn't realize until later that it is one of the best restaurants in all of Budapest. Well, we found out why! The service was excellent, and the food was amazing. We had a great time learning new Italian phrases from Andrea, and laughed our way through dinner.

Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel through the lit up city. We stopped for some pictures on Buda Hill before heading back. The city is beautiful at night!!

On Sunday we spent the day with Andrea's friend Peter and his family. Peter was nice enough to be a tour guide for us- we took the UNESCO World Heritage metro system out to Hero's Square, drank a coffee at a nearby coffee shop and spent some time at the zoo where I felt like a little kid looking at the lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, hippos, alligators, chimps, leopards, flamingos, etc. Zoo's bring out the kid in me:) We also saw Vajdahunyad Castle, which is near the park behind Hero's square. The Castle was built to resemble all of the amazing structures that were a part of the Hungarian empire at its most powerful time. Pieces of the castle include the tower in Sighisoara, Romania (we have a painting of that in our living room from when we visited Romania two years ago!), a church in Rome, as well as an Austrian palace, and other structures. Peter also drove us to see St Stephen's Basilica and the Parliament Building. We ended the night around 8pm and said goodbye to Peter, ate some pizza and crashed for the night. We had an extremely early flight to Milan on Monday morning- our flight took off around 6:30AM, and we arrived back at the Bergamo airport at 8AM.
Found another statue!

Hero's Square
The "Founding Fathers" of Hungary- the 7 tribal leaders

We had a great time in Budapest with lots of laughing with good friends, relaxing at the spa, and sightseeing with new friends. I would like to return to Budapest to see some of the museums and the opera house, as well as the other baths, but I'm not sure we will have the opportunity. Budapest is extremely clean, very cultured and has a great relaxed energy- I would highly recommend visiting this city if you are ever in Eastern Europe.

Vajdahunyad Castle

Sighisoara Tower on the left

St Stephen's Basilica

Parliament Building

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