Well this trip was a few months ago and so much has been going on that we never got around to writing up our visit. We have a few today so they will be shorter than usual but with all of the info you would expect!
We booked this trip as Eurostar sent us an email saying we are now going all the way to Marseille and you should join us. Well you know us, we (Bruce and I) are suckers for an email offer. We invited Carol and Iain along and we booked it back in December.
Well the day finally came and I think of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song when he said “ I yelled to the cabbie yo homes smell you later” the nice man who got us there in one piece was a very smelly man. Saying that our only other issue with the trip was the flight home.
Whilst St Pancras was busy, they had a special area for the South of France train and we were through pretty quick with a special luggage tag and South of France guide.
We decided due to the almost 5 hour travel time to spring for the Leisure Select tickets which at £50 more per person ended up being a really good value. Not only did we get fed twice, but bigger more comfortable seats and less people in the carriage, which makes all of the difference on a longer trip.
We arrived and found the hotel right next to the train station dropped our bags and headed to the city centre, which was about a 20 min walk. Other than the heat (it was 30+) it was a lovely walk.
We decided to see what we could see and walked around the city centre a bit before finding an open top bus tour. Needless to say due to the early start and the fact I was in a moving vehicle, I fell asleep almost instantly, but the parts I remember I thought it was pretty good esp the tour of the bus station!
We decided on dinner at the best Mexican place in town (El Sombrero) and we were not disappointed!
It was a long day and we decided to call it a night after dinner, but we did have a nice walk back to the hotel.
Day 2 –
After a great nights sleep, we started our day at a small patisserie and then walked into to old town where we enjoyed a bottle of wine on the banks Rhone. As you know all of us love a good boat trip so we found the local river boat and took an hour tour and saw the sights. After a lunch at an Italian place, we walked around a local farmers market then headed up a funicular to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere which provided an amazing view of the city from the outside and I’m told (everyone else went in) was amazing inside and worth a look.
After taking the funicular back down we went for a few drinks around the city and then tried to find a Lebanese place we read about. All was well until we actually found the place and it was closed for the month 😦 .
So at this point we were starving and decided to walk back to the hotel and see what we could find. It was slim pickings… Chinese or Indian. We chose Indian (Rose Indien) as it had been awhile and it was not a good choice. We looked it up before going in and it was ranked 7 in all of Lyon so we thought why not. First, they didn’t serve/allow alcohol 😦 and then the food was just not good. The did sell some authentic Indian sauces from India to take home with you.. Patak’s which whilst not a bad product is not authentic and I don’t think from India in my opinion. After the disappointing dinner we called it a night.
Day 3 –
Our time in Lyon was coming to a close and the hotel chucked us out, well not really we checked out on our own and crossed the road to the overpriced tram to the airport. The journey was comfortable and once we made it to the airport, it was a long walk from one of the nicest tram/train station we have been to.
Check in was not open yet and it was chaos! It was the end of the Tour De France and even the speedy line was packed with people. Once we started moving it was almost 45 minutes as each person in front of us had bikes they were taking back. Once checked in we made our way to the most shambolic security and immigration area I have ever been to.
Once we got through to departures, there was one little café, one small store and about 50 vending machines. The nice thing about the machines is the drinks were cheaper than the café or the store and it had the waffles I love!
Overall it was a great trip and the Eurostar was a lovely way to start the trip and if the return would not have been so late it would have been a nicer way to travel home as well.
Cast of Characters: Dan, Bruce, Brett, Hannah and Jon (for lunch)
Hotel: Mercure Korona
Day 1 –
So Dan is insistent that I write one of these blog posts myself since apparently this entire thing was my idea.
Budapest is an amazing city. Before this trip I had been twice before (2007 & 2013) and Dan had been once before in 2013. Despite having been before when our friend Hannah pointed out that British Airways was doing a cheap package holiday for the bank holiday weekend we jumped at the chance. Due to our many holidays we decided to forgo taking the Friday off and take the 20:45 flight from Heathrow on the Friday night so that we would have the entire Saturday. On this particular occasion we chose to stay in the Mercure Korona on the Pest side near the city market.
We booked this trip in Nov 2014 so we had months of anticipation. Finally Friday the 22nd of May arrived. Dan was going to go straight to the airport from work and I was going to meet him, Hannah and Brett at the airport. I had plans of trying to wrap up work a bit early that day but as usual that didn’t quite happen. I managed to meet Dan in front of terminal 3 at about 18:30, Hannah and Brett were already through security and at the pub. We quickly checked in and headed to fast track security but as luck would have it they re-routed us into the normal security line due to a queue of 3 people in fast track. Despite this change we made it through security quick and met Hannah and Brett at the Bridge pub for a few drinks and some food before boarding the flight. The food was decent but the service had much to be desired since they forgot one of the meals and had to be chased down to get it corrected. After eating Hannah and Brett went off to do some shopping and Dan and I headed off to the lounge to have a quick drink.
We boarded the flight and overall the flight was uneventful. There was a group of 20 something’s on the plane headed celebrate someone’s birthday in Budapest and they were doing their best to drink the plane dry but they were more or less harmless. We arrived just after midnight in Budapest. We quickly headed to the baggage claim and the ATM where we took out 80,000 Fortnys or as we like to call it the”hufflepuff” a phrase that was coined on the prior trip since the common abbreviation is HUF.
At this point Bruce gave up writing the blog and it’s now up to me to finish it…
I offered to finish it (Bruce) – No he didn’t (Dan)
We met our driver and did the quick transfer to the hotel. Once we checked in we tried to go to the pub across the road, but it shut as we were checking in so instead we headed to the Kebab shop around the corner and had a quick bite. The cost of a 2 kebab’s and 4 sodas was 3200 hufflepuffs (7quid). I only point this out not only to show how cheap it is but also because when we got back to the room, I had 80,500 so we made money!
Day 2 –
We started out the day at the local market called Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok). We enjoyed a few pastries for Breakfast then it was time for some beer. We headed up to the main shopping street and it started pissing it down and I mean we should have been looking for an ark it was so bad, so we decided to get that beer so we found a nice little outdoor cafe. Whilst waiting out the rain, Hannah’s brother Jon arrived at the airport. He was coming for a stag but everyone else was arriving later. We had decided on Hooters for lunch so we told him to meet us there and as the rain let up we made our way there quickly.
I would like to say Hooters was better than last time, whilst the food was ok and as expected (boneless wings were a great value) the service was absolutely the worst. I won’t dwell on the negative aspects of the meal. We enjoyed our time together, but then it was time to part ways as we had a wine tasting and he had a stag.
We walked around the city a bit more then headed across the Chain Bridge and to the funicular for our journey up the hill to Faust Wine Cellar in the Hilton hotel on the Buda side. We had been here on our last trip and had an awesome tasting and wanted to give it a try again.
We arrived and were greeted as old friends. Gabor and Barbara remembered us from our previous visit (I looked I never mentioned in my booking emails) They took us through the entire tutored tasting and for Bruce and I compared the current vintage to what we would have tasted during our last tasting. They work with a number of small wineries in Hungary and buy, in some cases, the full production or close to it, which means most of what you are tasting is only available there or the winery.
After a three hour tasting we decided to make our way back to the hotel. We took the funicular down again and walked back to the hotel. It had been a long day so we called it a night.
Day 3 –
Once again we walked the streets of the city. We were headed to a place that Hannah’s friend suggested that was near where Hooters was, but sadly it was closed so we ended up on the same street as Hooters at a place across the way called Café Vian. It has some good local food and was a good price even with our tower of beer.
After lunch we walked to the river and took a river sightseeing cruise. It was much better than the one we took previously and it included two drinks which was a nice touch. It was a nice day albeit a little windy, so we enjoyed sitting outside. The temp the whole trip was warm which was nice.
We walked around the city a bit more and the headed to Divino for some wine. We decided on a local sparkling that was pretty nice and just sat out side and enjoyed the wine and the weather.
It was time for dinner. I booked us into Trófea Grill Étterem Király. This is a buffet restaurant we went to on the last visit. Basically one price about £14 a person includes everything in the place. Decent selection of food including a grill area, pizza, desserts and the best part it also includes all you can drink wine, sparkling wine, beer and soft drinks. They allow you to have 3 hours for dinner we took 2 ½ 🙂
It was getting late so we took a long walk back to hotel stopped off at a few gift shops and I didn’t need it but I got some Facebook ice cream that tasted remarkably like bubble gum ice cream.
Day 4 –
It was our final day so pretty boring, just a trip to the airport and an easy flight home.
This trip was originally supposed to be to Ljubljana, however we had some issues with flights (there were none) so instead we talked Shannon in to Bratislava, as we were there a few years a go and wanted to give it another go.
BA had a great holiday deal (via Vienna, they seemed to have learned a few things from Ryanair), even over Easter, so we booked it!
We ended up meeting Shannon in security as Bruce was waiting for his shoes as he beeped going through Security. Thanks to his shoes getting scanned we got to meet possibly one of the rudest most unprofessional woman we have ever run across. The quick story is there were several (5) people waiting to get their items that had been pulled for secondary screening. There were two people being searched I mean there bags being dumped upside down and searched. Whilst everyone else was waiting for small items. I asked the Security Team Leader if she could possibly grab the small items so people could get on their way. She said that was not possible and we would have to wait. The guy behind us asked the same thing and said the wait was a joke.
This set her off and she went into a tirade that Airport Security is not a joke and is very serious. How we are lucky to be waiting and going through Heathrow, as it is the safest airport in the world. She continued on about how Airport Security was not a joke as she walked away. After that one of the security guys took pity on all of those who were waiting for small items and after a quick passport swab handed back the items and sent them on their way.
We then popped into Oriel for a quick breakfast and made our way to the plane. Overall the flight was uneventful and we arrived on time. Immigration was ok, but the bags took forever. Once out of baggage claim our transfer was waiting with a sign and off we went on the scenic route to Bratislava
We made it to the hotel a little early and the rooms we had booked were not ready, however they were able to find us both rooms. Bruce and I were upgraded to a Privilege Room, which also included access to the Privilege Lounge (Shannon got it too so it became our meeting place). The room was great and a bit bigger than Shannon’s, but had one massive issue.
Yep that’s right no curtain or anything to give you a little privacy in the bathroom. Apparently it was part of the design and even the staff did not understand it.
So we wondered into town to see what we can see, as it was Good Friday, almost none of the shops were open, but the bars were so it was ok.
Our first stop was a little Mexican fusion place called El Diablo for some food. It was as expected… not too good, but the guacamole was decent.
Next door was a Scottish Pub called the “Lochness Scottish Pub” they had a few Brew Dog’s on tap and several different ones in bottles plus some cider for Shannon. They were a bit overpriced and no real atmosphere or Wi-Fi, but we could get the Wi-Fi from El Diablo so it was ok.
As we were walking around we saw the Beer Pub Kristián, It’s a bit of a scary place with not much choice so we didn’t hang out for too long. They didn’t have ay Wi-Fi either.
Next up we decided to go Cuban… There used to be a La Bodeguita del Medio just across the street from El Diablo, I was hoping to visit, but it has closed. In its place, apparently for a very long time, and just up the road is Casa del Havana, it is definitely worth a visit. They had great mojitos and daiquiris and we visited a few times!
After an afternoon of drinking we needed some food, so we walked around and nothing really called to us esp. as Bruce did not feel we were dressed appropriately (jeans and a t-shirt) for any of the places so we ended up at a place called Primi just across from Casa del Havana.
The food was pretty good and the prices were reasonable, but a word of warning the local Slovakian wine is not all that good.
After this it was getting late and we headed back to the hotel for a nightcap and some sleep.
Day 2 –
As we were near the station and Bruce and I have fond memories. So before hitting the town for the day we popped over to see what we could see. It appears to be a bit nicer than it was during our last visit and the shops were open so we could get some provisions for the room.
We settled on All Stars Café for lunch. The wings were great and the burgers were ok (liked mine, Bruce and Shannon were not as happy with theirs.) The service on the other hand, if you take out the language difficulties was great and they could not do enough for us.
We decided to take the road train city tour; they offered two routes Old Town and Castle so we took both. It was a good way to kill a few hours (and take a nap if your name is Dan or Shannon) even though the music was not as good as Riga.
After the tour we visited Slodvna for a beer as we read they had fruit beer, they didn’t but they did have some Belgian beers so we had a quick one and moved on. The next on the list was a place called 17’s who once again according to review had fruit beer.
On the way we found the ice cream mouse where Bruce took this fine photo on our first trip:
So of course we all had to take a picture as well
17’s was a winner and it made Shannon very happy. We also realised we were across from the monstrosity that is the US embassy. It is sad does not matter what country we have visited the US Consulate or Embassy is always heavily fortified and does not fit in with any of their surroundings.
We decided to visit one more place before dinner and decided on Narnia. The whole thing could use some work, not the best selection of beers and the theming could use some work, as I had to explain it to both Bruce and Shannon.
After a few drinks we headed over to the Green Buddha for dinner. Whilst Thai sounded good, their interpretation of it left a bit to be desired but we enjoyed ourselves none the less and the service was great!
After dinner we called it a night.
Day 3 (Easter Sunday) –
We started the day a bit later and decided to start the day at the KGB pub, which sadly was closed. We needed to eat so we went to Mc Donald’s needless to say it was the same as it always is.
After the disappointing experience, we needed some cheering up so off to Casa del Havana for a few Mojitos.
After this we walked to one of the biggest tour traps in the city also known as the UFO.
The one thing it does offer is great views of the city.
After this we popped back into 17’s and enjoyed a few beers before seeking some place new. What place better than the Camel Pub. We enjoyed a drink whilst planning our next trip (still planning so who knows) where we ran in to a Danish guy travelling with his young boys. The conversation was just weird as we talked about US taxation, his ex wife’s new boyfriend and the Danish “NSA”.
We still had some time before our dinner reservations, so we headed over to the Irish pub I have been trying to go to since we arrived and not only did the Dubliner have cider it was a just a good atmosphere and music.
It was finally time for dinner, which we booked to be sure we had some place to eat instead of the hotel.
For dinner we chose possibly the most expensive restaurant in the city called El Gaucho. We were not disappointed, but possibly we did not need to book. Our server who we have nicknamed “Shammy” due to Shamrock being tattooed on his knuckles. We also learned he loves his Mom and Dad due to the tattoo on his forearm. Shammy provided us with awesome service and made sure we were happy the entire time we were there. The food and wine was amazing and we really enjoyed our Easter meal.
Once dinner was over it was time for bed, yes we are getting old, and we decided instead of walking back we should take the scary tram. We went to the tram stop and saw it was a 5 min until the next one. We waited 30 minutes and none came, we saw them going the other way, but they never came back so in the end we took the bus. We only wanted to take the tram to say we took the tram but sadly it was not meant to be.
Day 4 –
It’s a sad day our trip is over. We had breakfast at the hotel (it was ok but over priced) and then packed and waited for our transfer back to the airport. We were picked up right on time and made it to the airport in no time.
We were able to check in quickly and made our way through the initial boarding pass check and walked around the shops. After passport control, we left Shannon for a little bit and headed to the smallest most over crowded lounge we have been to, but it had a nice tarmac view so I made Bruce a Bloody Mary and we relaxed for a bit before joining Shannon for security and boarding the plane home.
The e-passport gates were operational and Shannon got to break in her the “e” in her UK passport on them.
Sadly the trip was over and we parted ways, but we will get to see Shannon again in Manchester when we visit her later this year.
Our next trip will be to Munich and we will tell you all about it. But in the mean time we need some feedback from you. Does this format work for you, what would you like to see more / less of?
Thanks for reading and I leave you with a clip from Eurotrip about Bratislava: