Helen and I arrived late last night. We negotiated the bus journey to the main railway station. The bus was really busy even at 10.30 at night, but very cheap and perfectly to time (€0.90 c for 60 minutes travel). Our hotel is comfortable and clean, very similar to basic university accommodation in the UK.
Monday 16 April
We had the day to ourselves as the rest of the students were not arriving until this afternoon. We managed a great breakfast of chocolate filled freshly made pancakes in the all the day cafeteria attached to the hotel, for the princely sum of €1. It looks like there are two sections to the hotel, a part that is student accommodation and a part that is hotel accommodation. It is functional but rather concrete and there are some rather interesting colour combinations circa 1982 (this turquoise and red, dark green and red).
It was pretty wet, cold and windy, but we braved the weather to walk into the old city, about half an hour a way. This gave is a chance to get our bearings and work out which tram to get on the way back! We soon found the heart of the old city, which is beautiful, tall buildings in pastel colours with patterned roof tiles, balconies and gilding. There a statues and fountains everywhere. I had remembered that hot chocolate was quite a treat here from the last time I visited (a brief weekend several years ago), so we ventured into a cafe and had a ‘dark hot chocolate’. It was fabulous, full of grated chocolate, in a tall glass topped with whipped cream.
The old city was pretty deserted apart from groups of tourists being lead by guides talking into what looked like a walkie talkie. We soon realised that the tourists had wireless (or blue tooth?) headsets in and could hear the guide individually. Very neat!
We found our way over the modern bridge across the Danube to a big shopping centre (Aurpark) for a wander and some warmth. There was also free wifi much to my delight. It was interesting to note the contrast between the old and new, and how run down and concrete the buildings are near to hotel compared to the beautiful baroque city centre.
Food in cafes was very cheap, but in the supermarket seemed similar prices to home. Clothes and shoes were definitely the same as at more if not more expensive – though that didn’t stop Helen getting the bargain of the century – a pair of running shoes in the sale for €2!