Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Walking seven miles in Budapest

I wear a Fitbit so I know that's how many miles I walked yesterday. In three phases.

1. Morning tour of Pest, the modern-in-comparison city across the Danube River from Buda, the medieval one. We use public transportation wherever possible on this tour, so we took the Metro - blue and yellow lines - to get to our first stop. 

The guided tour was mostly public and historical buildings and parks. At this point I am all building'd out, but at least I can say I was there. I took a couple dozen pictures but only kept the ones not of buildings!

You can rent a bike and return it to any other bike stand in the city. I'd like to try this sometime, but the traffic in Budapest is a little heavy for my comfort. There are dedicated bike lanes, though - nice and wide - and we were encouraged to stay out of them on our walks.

Our guides encouraged us to visit the public baths, which are very clean and popular with the locals. They even took us inside the building so we could peek out and see how everything looked. I am not going! 

This fountain in Freedom Square has special tiles all around it, and when you step on one the water by it turns off and that part of the fountain recedes. We played in this water! Several of us commented on what this formal but playful fountain might signify. My thought was that, if you're inside the water, you feel trapped, but all you have to do is walk toward the water and it opens up for you. You can get out if you make the effort and trust the process.

This is us, at least half the time. Standing, standing.

Our guided tour ended at the Budapest Central Market, an enormous place where you can buy everything from fresh fruits and vegetables and meat, to clothing and dry goods, to souvenirs. For lunch we consumed our most decadent, sinful, calorie-laden meal. Langos is Hungarian fried bread - kind of like an elephant ear, but not deep fat fried, and shaped like a an eight-inch pizza crust. Mine had a layer of vanilla cream, laden with fresh strawberries and bananas, topped with crushed walnuts and a drizzle of chocolate. It was glorious! I got the concoction all over myself - hands, face, and shirt - and knew I could finish it with great effort but decided not to because I'm sure the part I ate contained at least 5,000 calories. A once-in-a-lifetime indulgence!

2.  Trip to the laundromat. This required a short walk and two Metro trains. At our stop we saw the Budapest Opera House. We took these pictures for an opera-going friend of mine in Seattle.

The laundry is a couple of streets behind the opera house. We pick up our clean clothes this afternoon. Good thing! This packing light business requires either laundry treks or multiple wet items hanging on a portable clothesline in the bathroom. The bathroom items take twice as long to dry as I expected, so it's worth two subway trains and a mile walk each way to have it done by someone else. About $8 for a bag of laundry.

On the way back to our hotel we took both the correct subway trains, but we came up to street level on the wrong staircase, so we wandered around for half an hour or so on the opposite side of the street from our hotel's location. Totally lost! Next time (this afternoon, when we pick up the laundry), we'll make careful note of what's on the corner by the correct subway stairs.

3. We walked a mile each way to take an evening boat ride on the Danube. This was simply lovely. We sat upstairs, outside, with blankets over our knees. Flocks of seagulls catching bugs circled above a bridge and one of these buildings, lit from below by the structures.  Beautiful!

I'm grateful to have the endurance to walk seven miles in a day. My feet and ankles were not happy, though, when I crawled into bed at Hotel Erzebet.


Linda Reeder said...

We use public transportation in big cities we visit too. When we were in Stockholm our hotel was out of town and we took the subway into the city. Arriving underground, we got completely turned around and never really did get our sense of direction straightened out. The map was always backwards. Now I travel with a compass.
We have managed to find laundromats in foreign cities to get our clothes done. We could do hand washing only if we would be in a hotel for at least two nights in order to get things dry.
Those night lit buildings are fabulous. I do love fancy buildings.

Olga said...

Walking, eating, I think that is what touring is all about.

Anonymous said...

Such a different picture you are showing us than what we are seeing of Hungary here in the US on the nightly news of Hungary's treatment of the refugees.

DJan said...

Glad to know you are getting out and about so well... even if you did get a tad bit lost for awhile. The night pictures are wonderful! :-)

Tom said...

At first, I thought that was a map of the NYC subway system! Anyway, now you're making me want to go visit Budapest!