Our last full day in Budapest was all about the tourist attractions. Neither Dee nor I are particularly drawn to large crowds of photo-snapping foreigners in plaid shorts and polo shirts, strangely enough, but there was much of Buda left to explore and so we once more boarded the Big Red Bus and headed over the bridge.
As it was all planned on Thursday we knew exactly what we were doing: first, the Heroes Square, then onto stop 13 for the Fisherman’s Bastion, a wine-tasting at Faust’s Wine Bar, a walk to the Palace and the “Fenicular” down the hill towards the chain bridge. If there was time, we were going to take a cruise to Margaret Isle in the middle of the river, then collapse appreciatively into bed at the end of a long day. But you know what they say of the plans of mice and men…
Reboarding the bus at Heroes Square gave us the opportunity to meet the one person in Budapest who wasn’t a nice as punch to us: Ms Ticket Inspector. Seriously, come on — we’re tourists, like we knew the tickets were “expired”! We ran for the bus, for chrissake! Luckily (for us, not her) she let us on anyway and we headed back to Buda — only to find that our chosen route, already disturbed by the flooding of the Danube, was now completely “Pete Tong”! An accident, perhaps, had closed off the main mountain road and somehow achieved the impossible: making Budapest’s traffic even worse.
With the road to Stop 13 blocked off by police, the bus had no choice but to detour from Stop 12 directly to 14 — miles from the Fisherman’s Bastion, and at the bottom of the hill to boot. “I like that we’ve been on this tour enough times that we know this is a massive detour,” commented Andy, and we all nodded resignedly — we just about could’ve given the audio tour ourselves (“You can see from the lack of greenery in this area that we are, all together now, still down town!”) A look over the map and some hard decisions: we would alight on the other side of the bridge, in Pest, then walk back over and take the Fenicular up the hill. The rest of the plan fell into place.
The scale of things is just crazy here: I keep imagining just how much money and effort has gone into building the massive palatial buildings and soaring monuments. Money which — nowadays — Budapest doesn’t have; it hasn’t quite recovered from the two world wars, although it is certainly doing well now. I think we’ll have to come back in a couple of years (maybe a decade) and see how she’s gettin’ on…
The fenicular was fun — two cable cars, really, on the same cable. I muse with the idea of using the weight of the tourists at the top to drag those at the bottom up via a pulley system, but realise that the system only works if there are more tourists at the top than at the bottom — unlikely at best. We look for the infamous wine bar, and even find it, but are dismayed to find it not only closed, but locked! Shut down permanently?!
Sometime during the day we find an archery practise range (well, a tourist-ified range, at least) and spend a couple of euro (ha ha! They take euro coins!) shooting arrows into a nearby target — or the ground, a tree, a passing tourist. After a bad start I get all “Robin Hood” and land one in the bullseye … which would be impressive if we weren’t only a few feet away from the covered hay-bale targets!
Tomorrow is our last day, and we’ll take our leave from Andy — he goes back to London, we go onto Poland. Time is absolutely flying by!