Thursday, May 8, 2014

First night in Budapest, Hungary

After the drive from Vienna with the quick stop in Bratislava we had reached Budapest. This was the home of our guide Betti so she was very excited to show us Hungary and it's beautiful capital.
The first stop we had in Budapest was Gellért Hill which is a 235 meter high hill over Budapest with a beautiful view of the city and the Danube. Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. 

At the top of the hill is a citadel which was built after the 1848-49 Hungarian uprising by the Austrians. The hill was a strategic site for shelling both Buda and Pest in the event of a future revolt. At the end of the citadel is the Liberty Statue, a large monument erected by the Soviet Red Army to commemorate their victory in World War II.

Statue of St George killing the dragon on the citadel.

There was a small archery range and several of my group were interested in it. I think the girls were mostly interested in the guy demonstrating.

We loaded back onto the bus and headed into the city where we unloaded and walked to our hostel.  We had a few hours of free time which I spent finding an ATM and getting out some Hungarian forints. There is about 200 forints to 1 Canadian dollar. I got 25000 forints out roughly $125 Canadian or 82 euros. After breaking my larger notes on some needed hand wipes, I headed back to the hostel and met up with everyone for dinner. We walked as a group through the main shopping areas of Budapest, slipping past eager advertisers hoping to lure us into their restaurants.  
The dinner was to be at Fatal, a traditional Hungarian restaurant. Our trip leader Betti promised that there would be giant portions that we would barely be able to finish. We had the entire menu at our disposal but we could only order things under 3500 forints for our meal as it was included with the tour. We were in charge of our drinks.  The menu was very large and we had a hard time deciding on what to get. I was tucked into a table with the very nice South African guys. 

Left to my own devices I ordered this monstrosity of a drink.  I think it was called Last Wish. It was quite strong. Okay, very strong.
We ordered a bowl of Goulash soup which was very delicious. If I ever go back to Hungary I am definitely having more of that.
I order the Stuffed Cabbage which in the above photo does not look to appetizing but I will blame the poor lighting of the basement restaurant. Looks were deceiving though as it tasted very good.  Like Betti promised the portion was gigantic but I finished as much as I could.
After we had paid, we followed the group up into the alleyway that was in front of the restaurant where the bus driver Akosh pulled out a bottle of some god knows what bath tub liqueur and we all got a shot of it. We all raised our tiny shot glasses and downed it. Some struggling a lot more than others. Despite its high alcohol content it tasted just a bit like fireball.  After we regained our composure as a group, we headed through the streets to a very cool bar. I wasn't wanting to drink more but the bar itself was very cool with multiple levels and very mixed seating arrangements. Those not wanting to drink at the bar made our way back through the streets and found our hostel and our welcoming beds.

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