Yesterday we returned to Aberdeen from Budapest, and although we were all exhausted, we had a great trip. I will tell you all about our trip, but I will have to break it up into a few posts. Today I will cover the mundane things we all deal with while travelling – our travels, our hotel, food, pricing, etc. Tomorrow I will talk about what we did in Budapest each day (with photos) and after that I will talk about Big Boy’s birthday.
Travel To and From Budapest
We flew from Aberdeen to Budapest via Amsterdam on KLM Airlines. Our first flight was about 1 hour and 15 minutes and the second flight was closer to 1 hour 45 minutes. The KLM aeroplanes were very basic and so was the service, which was to be expected on such short flights. As usual Little Boy was slightly unco-operative on the flights – he does not go to sleep easily in our arms and he wants to touch everything. That being said, he does not usually scream or cry, so we don’t disturb too many other passengers. On the flights we were served drinks and snacks. The second flight also had sandwiches.
We had about 1 hour for our transfer in Amsterdam, and it was not really enough time. We had to run through the surprisingly large airport and we barely made our second flight. On the way home we had a similar timing issue, but our flights arrived and departed from closer gates so it was not a big problem. To have a relaxing transfer in Amsterdam, I think at least a 2-hour layover is required.
Once we arrived in Budapest there were warning posters about taxi scams in the airport. We took a “reputable” firm and the trip to the hotel was smooth. (Except that, in Budapest, as everywhere else, the cab was stinky and nausea inducing).
Our journey home was equally uneventful.
Hotel – Le Meridien
We stayed at Le Meridien a lovely hotel that was centrally located. The hotel used to be the Adria Palace and indeed it is palatial. We stayed on points, so the shocking cost of the rooms was not an issue for us. Our room was very large, with a king sized bed and a small (not quite double-sized) pull out couch. We also had a large desk, bureau, 2 closets and 2 nightstands with drawers. The bathroom was large with both a tub (deep and oversized) and a large shower. There was strong water pressure (I love that for my thick hair) and there was always hot water available.
The room was pleasantly decorated with antiques and had soaring ceilings with a dramatic chandelier. The bed was so comfortable, with a selection of pillows for your comfort.
Overall the hotel experience was very positive. There were a few negatives. Most of the time, the Internet (which was free to us because of my husband’s points) was incredibly slow. There would have been no way to update my blog and it was hard to check email, I could only view my Gmail in html, everything else took too long to load. This was obviously more of a problem for my husband who was trying to work.
As usual, there were problems with the number of towels. We were initially provide towels for 3 people, and when we asked for them to be replaced (which we don’t do every day), we would always get a random selection as replacements – never quite replacing all of the towels taken away.
The fridge (which I was happy to have) was one of those electronic fridges that have a sensor – if you move anything you are charged for it. I immediately asked the hotel to remove all of the items from the fridge so I could use it for milk and they complied.
My last complaint is actually about the team of doormen. We have a stroller and it could not fit through the rotating door. So we needed assistance to open the door next to it to get in and out of the hotel. The doormen never seemed to quite get the hang of actually opening the door for us. They would rush up as we were almost through or open the door as we were opening it. The doorman was almost never near the door – we found this a little odd!
Food was not an issue for us. Our hotel was conveniently located near to a couple of restaurant-packed areas and we easily found an appropriate grocery store. We tried a few Hungarian foods such as a twisted up and baked dough and catfish and mushroom pancake. Food in Budapest was generally drenched in mayonnaise or sour cream and a lot of foods contained cottage cheese. We had a giant pretzel that looked like it was covered in icing but was actually covered in cheese!
There was no issue at all finding food that was appropriate for either child.
Generally, food and activities were expensive in Budapest, especially compared to our recent visits to Prague, Istanbul, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Food, both in the grocery store and in restaurants (and even at “street food” stands) was quite expensive – comparable to pricing in Paris, from what I can remember. Attractions also came at a steep price. The cogwheel railway was about $10 Canadian for our family’s 2-minute ride and the Zoo cost about $25 Canadian for the family.
We had gorgeous weather. It was hot – over +20 degrees Celsius every day - with a blazing sun. One day it was a bit windy.
The Danube seems to be the source of some pretty nasty smells and every time the wind blew toward our faces we’d get a whiff of a new and disgusting odour.
In general, it seems to me that European women (and men) take fashion more seriously that North Americans. I know this statement will probably offend a bunch of people, but what I mean is this: if you look at a cross section of the population out in public, I think in Europe you will probably find people who have given far more though to their attire than in North America. For example, it seemed to me that in Budapest, people did not wear sweat pants as proper clothing outside the house (and maybe not inside the house either – how would I know?).
Anyways, I think European people put more effort, expense and time into their appearance. Sometimes this leads to beautiful, appropriate outfits, but sometimes the results are laughable. Here are some examples of the latter, I only wish I had photos of some of them:
- On a hot day, many men were still wearing the effeminate scarves that are in fashion for men in Europe. Even though they were really sweaty.
- One young lady was wearing tight, ripped jeans. They were excessively tight and excessively ripped and cottage cheese like cellulite was being forced out of each tear.
- Bizarre ‘80s hair. Think crimping irons, with bleach and red dye.
- Ridiculously high heals that would not allow comfortable walking on the cobblestones – the ladies wearing these either “owned it” and walked without an issue or limped along.
- Purple skirt, red tights, purple shoes. All on the same person at the same time. Enough said.