Thursday, 24 May 2007

21st May

21st May
Pecs to Budapest

Arrival in Budapest, 50251km

We left Pecs around 11am having settled up the bill at the campsite (3600Huf - about 14e). The road all the way to Budapest is Highway 6, and for the most part of it, it is currently being widened and resurfaced with funds from the EU. There is a new motorway about 100km from Budapest, but you need a vignette for the motorways here which you need to buy in advance. There's no great speed advantage to be had by going on the motorways with Hermione, so I prefer to stick to the national and regional roads, and it's not like I'm in any great rush anyway. The countryside is mainly flat or gently rolling, and lots of agriculture, from wheat to sunflowers and rape growing. The road was failry quiet, even if the journey was a bit slow due to the never ending series of roadworks. From what I've seen so far though, the roads in Hungary are of no worse standard than in Ireland, and presumably will be improved as EU money starts to roll into this country.

We arrived in Budapest about 2.30pm and found the campsite without any major fuss, so it's definately handy to have an address beforehand! We are staying at Camping Haller, on Haller Utca which is about 4km from the city centre. We got sorted out with a pitch by the friendly guy at reception, who also gave us a guide book and map. The camping isn't cheap though. For 2 nights it's 12000Huf (about 48e) although there's a 5% discount off with the Camping Card and they also offer a 4 nights for 3 deal. we're not sure how loing we'll stay. If we like Budapest a lot, we may end up staying for 4 nights. The campsite is small, but very handy for town.

We walked up Haller Utca towards Nagvarad Ter and bought tickets for the Metro (about 80 cents each) and travelled the 5 stops to Deak Ter station. The metro is a bit old and the trains look like they are from the 60's but it all works fine and they're clean and comfortable inside. In fact, I found it quite cute the way that there's still an air of the old Communist stuff still around, even if at this stage, Hungary is most definately a capitalist country. Another thing that impressed us, as we came up out the Metro, is that at every major road junction, they have built underpasses rather than having crossings at street level. They are well lit and clean (in fact at 11pm there were cleaners hosing all the floors down) and in the larger ones there are small shops and cafes.

We had a wander around part of the city centre, which has some quite grand buildings and the usual plethora of shops, then down to the river Danube and watched as one of the pleasure boats went past. First impressions of Budapest are very good. It's clean and bustling, although somewhat more expensive than Pecs was, but I think that was always to be expected. We ended up in a bar for a few drinks and the bill for 3 pints of beer, 3 large glasses of rd wine and 1 coffee came to 4200 Huf which equates to about 17 euro. The same drinks bill in Dublin would be around 30 euro, so I cant really moan that it's expensive.

We finished off our night at a strange bar /club where they give you a numbered card at the door as you enter and all your drinks are marked on it and payment is made at the end of the night. Spirits and mixers were dear at about 6 euro, but we bought a bottlee of red wine that came to about 8 euro, so I think it just depends on what you want to order - some is cheap, some not. We called it a night around 2am and jumped in a taxi back to the campsite (4 euro) and hit the hay.

The weather today was scorchio. By the time we hit Budapest, I reckon it must have been 30 or 32 deg C (about 85F) and even late into the evening and early morning, we were both wandering the streets in shorts and T shirts and it was still very warm. Tomorrow we will have a look around some of the main sights and take things from there.

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