At long last (37 days to be exact) we have arrived at our home base in Budapest! We’ll be here for six wonderful, relaxing, mostly travel-free weeks. I’m so excited to be here that I’ve skipped writing about three destinations we visited – Berlin, Wroclaw and the High Tatras mountains – to rhapsodize about finally being home. But don’t worry, I’ll come back to those other places in future posts. Being home means that our activities of the next four weeks or so (until we head to Paris for our anniversary) won’t be very noteworthy.
Our Airbnb is exactly as advertised and, though there are a few quirks, meets our needs very well. Our neighborhood in Pest is great – plenty of grocery stores, shops, and restaurants around. And, it is a 10-minute walk to the 26 bus that goes directly to Margaret Island, which has quickly become my favorite place in the city (Chad’s too).
So far in our 2.5 days in our new home we’ve done a massive grocery run at Aldi’s supplemented by daily market trips, had three amazing morning walks at Heroes’ Square and the city park (which includes Vajdahunyad Castle, the zoo, a circus, and the largest thermal baths in the city), made several nice dinners at home, enjoyed a Sunday afternoon excursion to Margaret Island (where we caught the extra-time and penalties of the Spain-Russia match) and have completely unpacked and hidden away our luggage. Here are some photos from our morning walks (click the thumbnails for full-size):
Our apartment isn’t large, but it is really nice to have a full eat-in kitchen with a nearly American-sized refrigerator, microwave and our first coffee maker of the trip (though we’ve sort of grown to appreciate Nescafe and I think will stick with instant for at least a while longer). No dishwasher, and of course no clothes dryer, but the drying rack is ingeniously rigged up to be raised to the ceiling for storage and is one of my favorite features. It reminds me of all the space-saving features my granddad used to add to his camper. There is a tiny bedroom (that also oddly reminds me of being in a camper), but it is the most effective room we’ve had so far at keeping the light out in the mornings.
We’ve already established a few traditions beyond our daily morning walk. Each week we plan to eat out twice – one nice place and one inexpensive place – and we’ll alternate who gets to pick. Chad is in charge of the nice place this week and has already made a reservation at Hungarikum Bistro for Thursday night. I’ve got the casual meal and plan to figure out a good place to stop on our way home from our other tradition, Sunday afternoons at Margaret Island.
What is Margaret Island, you may wonder? Margitsziget, as it is called locally, is a huge green space in the middle of the Danube that is filled with gardens, paths, fountains, landscaping, rec facilities, medieval ruins, stages, food and drink vendors, and basically everything fun (except for the things that are at the city park, or at Buda Castle – there are lots of fun places here in Budapest). It is also encircled by a 5k rubber jogging track that Chad has already made use of. The island was a royal hunting ground in the Middle Ages (called Rabbit Island then) and then later turned into a park and made public about 100 years ago. More info is here.
We’re thrilled to be settled in Budapest and looking forward to really getting to know the city over the next six weeks. I’ll continue to share highlights!