Diary from Slovakia – weekend in Budapest

We had thought that we would go to Vienna this weekend but once we discovered that Hannah and Elina, our colleagues from Finland were going to stay in Vienna next weekend, as they were flying back from Vienna and so had planned to go to Budapest this weekend, we decided to join them.

They went ahead on Friday night but stayed to go the Slovak national ballet to see Swan lake. It was a wonderful evening, the new theatre was very modern and sleek and a perfect plain setting for the rich traditional costumes of Swan lake. There was a full house and it was a brilliant atmosphere with several curtain calls at the end of each act. The orchestra and dancers wee amazing and the Odette/ Odile dancer in particular was stunning, so effortless and fluid.

We got the train from Bratislava main station, only 15 minutes by bus from our hotel. The journey was great, we had our own compartment which we shared with two American students who were studying in Paris and had come to Budapest and then Bratislava for a few days. The countryside was green with lots of little villages on he way, a lake a few castles and plenty of farm land.

We walked from the station to our hotel – an EasyHotel (think orange!) that Helen had found which was perfectly located for getting around the city. We met up with Hannah and Elina and walked through the city, over the Danube and on the funicular up to the palace for an incredible view over the city. The city is incredibly beautiful, with amazing architecture everywhere you look. Wide boulevards and buildings on a huge scale, sweeping views and a wonderful open feel make the city stunning.

We had dinner in a great jewish cafe with a live pianist, Spinoza, in he Jewish quarter not far from the largest Synagog I’ve ever seen. I had clear goose soup with matzo balls, classic beef Hungarian goulash with pickles and spatzle and a fabulous apple strudel.

On Sunday we went to the Terror museum, which was based in the former communist party headquarters, and the scene of terrible torture and death during the communist rule after the second world war. it was a harrowing period of history about which I knew very little but will definitely try I find out more about.

Afterwards we walked up to a huge park, had lunch and then walked around the thermal spas. We ended up not going in the spa as it looked really municipal and pretty packed on he weekend! One for more research to find a good one for another time.

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