Central Europe - Hungary

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  • We arrived in Budapest to a sea of refugees. This was just as the large numbers of people were building up, all trying to go to Germany, so there were around two thousand people living in the concourse between Keleti train station and the metro.

    We had two days to spend in Budapest before going south to Bóly (pronounced BOY), where Elizabeth lives. We decided to restrict our sight-seeing to Andrássy Street, Heroes' Square and City Park. We stayed in a Panzió fairly close to Népliget bus station, and took the bus from there to Bóly, where Elizabeth was waiting to meet us.

    We had a wonderful three days in Bóly. Elizabeth had arranged for us to stay in a Panzió which was a cellar; it was absolutely perfect. The three of us spent time going to Pécs, Mohács and Villány. Pécs is a fantastic small city, with beautiful buildings. It is also renowned for its ceramics, and we visited the Zsolnay Factory Museum, with its fine display of historical works. Bóly is in a major wine-producing area, with 353 cellars; as we walked around we could see the buildings with tell0tale mounds off to one side - there was a cellar under there. Villány is part of the Mohács-Bóly wine route, and boasts a main street lined with cellars.

    One of the most interesting things we did while in Bóly was to join an English class, run by the Presbyterian Minister's wife. The students were all adults, and none of them had met native English-speaking people before, so we provided a chance for them to hear a different accent and to try out their English with us.

    Elizabeth had to go up to Budapest to catch a plane, so we caught the bus there together. Now we had two days to explore more of the city, this time with a guide. We walked all around Pest, taking in the beautiful buildings, the market, and managing a coffee in the Book Store Café, a place on Andrássy Street I had looked for but missed on our earlier visit. Having exhausted Pest, we walked over the Danube to Buda and exhausted ourselves exploring the Castle district and the embankment.

    Geoff and I had an extra half day in Budapest before our train departed, so we took the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament, a stunningly beautiful building, well worth the pain of joining a guided tour. A quick walk up the Danube to Margaret Island completed our morning - we were heading south to Croatia.

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