So we actually ended Part I only halfway through the “Day 2” events. Here is a bit about that afternoon –
Wednesday, March 14 – We made a quick stop back at the apartment which is located on a pedestrian only street in the heart of the “Fashion District”. Great location, very clean and safe. The elevator was one of those old sliding metal doors that you hardly ever see still in the states – something about building codes and safety, pffffftt. A few times we took the stairs that wrapped around the elevator, which made the 4-story climb a bit more bearable.
After heading back out, we decided on a “hop on hop off” bus pass for the week. It was our first time trying out this fairly popular sight seeing option in many European cities and I’d say we will be looking forward to trying it again. Kiddos rode free, we had access to all the attractions (or at least most all of them), and the audio playing on the headphones was very informative.
Though I can’t remember which day on the bus it was, a simple statement from our oldest provided a sobering reminder of the perspective kids have when traveling…
“Son, look!” we said as his attention was fixated on his $2 sticker book.
“Is it just another big church or old building?” he replies, without the slightest hesitation of placing his dragon sticker on the castle courtyard in the book.
“Uuummmm, well… yea, that’s exactly what it is…”
It was a great reminder that, regardless of the history and interest WE have as parents, our kiddos still view the world through their kiddo eyes. Shocker, I know, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how our children are experiencing a trip as we (maybe a little selfishly) enjoy Europe.
So we figured the next stop should be a place where a kid can be a kid – no, not Chuck E. Cheese’s – but a playground. Olympic Park fit the bill very nicely; a large playground with a naval/ship theme, right on the bank of the Danube River, with plenty of climbing opportunities, and some interesting Hungarian Olympic history to keep (one of) the adults up and about while the other (to remain nameless) went internal due to “the cold weather”. It was in the 50s.
We decided to walk the mile or so back to the apartment and stumbled upon a practice for the next day’s main event for the Hungarian National Day. We were on the back side (or was it the front?) of the Hungarian Parliament Building where the practice was in full swing. Stage, singers, video, flags, authentic attire….
National Day celebrates the short lived independence from Hapsburg Austria in 1848/49. I say short lived because, after several sound defeats, the Austrians accepted Hungarian demands and an independent nation was formed… until the Hapsburgs were reinforced by the Russian Czar to the tune of 250,000 troops. Even then Russia was doing all they could to influence Central/Eastern Europe.
ANYWAYS – back to this millennium. After dinner (of course, no pictures), we called it a night because Dad had some studying up to do on how best to spend THE national holiday of Hungary. What an accidental, errr I mean masterfully planned, set of circumstances.
Thursday, March 15 – National Day
We started off at what quite possibly could be the coolest restaurant we have enjoyed as a family. Cool for adults, kids just thought it was just another “normal” place. CENTRAL CAFE reminded both of us adults of Hotel ICON in Houston combined with one of those grand brunch scenes in a movie set in NYC.
Being some of the only customers in the restaurant was a bit of a surprise, but we thought maybe the Hungarians party it up before their National Day…? Either way, it felt like a scene from The Great Gatsby, complete with an image of Harry Houdini (a Budapest native) embossed on the mirror.
With mom and dad in their happy place (and the kiddos in high spirits as well) we set off to experience the Hungarian holiday in the older portion of the city, Buda.
Again, the post is getting a bit too wordy, so we will let the pictures do most of the talking. But in summary, this was a combination of a classic European market, mixed with military parades and bands, all with Buda’s magnificent churches, castles, and squares for a backdrop.
Once back across the river to the Pest side of the city, there was one more box we wanted to check – the giant ferris wheel.
Dinner across the street from our apartment at an Italian place called La Lucia. This was a great ending to one of the best days of traveling with our crew that I can imagine. The food certainly was good, but the staff was even more friendly and accommodating than the already warm service we had experienced in the city.
One last thing for the evening- an older (but no where near “elderly”) couple was seated at the table next to us. With our kids serving in their normal roles as “ice breakers”, we soon were in a full conversation with Mike and Jackie. They are wonderful folks from Canada and we learned that they drive their big-for-North-America-but-MASSIVE-for-Europe RV all over the continent. You can check them out at http://www.roadsaway.com Quite the adventures they have as you will soon discover.
Friday, March 16th – Our Last Day
While the discussion may last for months to come, there were some definite positives to having our flight leave at 9:30pm that evening. It was unfortunate that the weather did not allow for us to take full advantage of the day, though. As a family, rainy days are often an excuse to lay low, get a few things done around the house, and snuggle up for a good movie and popcorn…. traveling via bus in a relatively new city, regardless of its greatness, was NOT the perfect ending to our trip.
We made the best of it, by mostly hanging out in restaurants! We did accidentally end up across the street from ___Temple___ which, from the photos, looked stunning. We marked this one down on the “come back to see when the kids are older, maybe so old they are out of the house” list.
A couple good snapshots of Dash 3 with the suitcase, changing into jammies in the airport, and the struggle of flying with #ThreeUnderSix in the late evening hours were the additional memories we’ll take with us from this last day in Budapest.
WOW. Overall, this trip was epic. We are constant in our efforts to keep things in perspective in our lives, especially when discussing with our children the opportunity to live/travel in Europe, but this word is fitting I think. And not that the entire trip was “epic” in the positive sense, because there were MANY challenging moments, many of which would never make our blog but ones to which most all parents can relate I’m sure.
So we hope you consider Budapest when thinking of European travels. We never would have if not for living so close. Thanks for reading, stay tuned for our next post (man these things take effort!), and God Bless.
(a few random pictures that didn’t make the story line)