We had a decent flight out of Leeds Bradford – departing at 1030 so not a hideously early morning – and arrived in Budapest (via Amsterdam) at about 1600. I had already researched the different transport options into the city and we decided to use the airport minibus service. It was cheap (about Â£7 return each), convenient (no need to book journey into the city and easy to book the return journey) and quick: we only had a wait a few minutes until a minibus turned up and it took us straight into the city. We stopped at perhaps one or two hotels for other people before we got to ours but that was hardly a hardship – we got to see our first glimpses of the city. I would certainly recommend using the service.
The hotel, ArtOtel, was nice: very clean and modern, with friendly multi-lingual staff. The hotel is on busy Bem Rakpart, running along the Buda side of the Danube but our river view was somewhat blocked by trees. Because of the traffic noise, we couldn’t really have the lovely french windows open that much but it would have been nice to have been able to see over to Pest – we can see leaves at home.
We collapsed at the hotel for a while before setting out into the warm evening in search of food. We walked over Chain Bridge – which was not far from the hotel at all, thankfully – and through the main shopping areas of Pest. We tried to find a mythical restaurant that had been highly recommended but a stupid map in my TimeOut city guide let us down.
Sore feet, hotness (even though, by now, it was about 2100) and tiredness forced us to give in, and we picked a random restaurant on Vaci Utca instead. It was called Duo and served Hungarian food – but probably rather honky Hungarian food since it looked rather like a tourist trap (cf, little Hungarian flags in the main dishes). Tourist trap or no tourist trap though, the food was pretty good. We both had fish: I had trout with parsley potatoes and John had the strange Hungarian hybrid (or perhaps mis-translation) “pike-perch” with paprika sauce and dumplings. Mine was nice but I think he got the better option.
When the dessert menu arrived, the Hungarian cottage cheese obsession that I had read about was confirmed, and John decided to wade right in. He had a cottage cheese-y bread and butter pudding while I went for the less freakish, choc-nut crepe option. They should have been served flambeed but given I’m not a fan of either alcohol or flame, I decline the show – much to the disappointment of the waiter. I had thought the choc-nut filling would just be your bogstandard generic Nutella but it was actually proper chocolate and a finely chopped nut sauce thing and was very good. I won desserts.
With very full tummies, we walked back to the hotel over Chain Bridge again. Half way back, I gave up on the sandal/sore feet situation and opted to walk bare foot instead. I have yet to buy a pair of sandals that don’t rub in some way but I’ll never learn…