Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2006-07

Return to Hungary, 16 years on

I had set my trusty little alarm clock for 0500 and, while I didn't exactly leap out of bed at that ungodly hour, I felt I had done well to be checked out and ready to head to the airport at 0540. But the Hated Hoppa was about to have its revenge for the previous evening, forcing me to wait nearly 35 minutes   As I finally sat on board the crowded bus, I reflected on how my carefully planned arrangements had so nearly come undone, thanks to a hotel shuttle bus   I really don't know how they get away with offering such a dreadful service at such inflated prices

Although Terminal 1 was certainly not the worst I have seen it, I was nevertheless grateful for the haven of tranquillity and civilisation that is Zone R - the BA premium check-in area. Even the new security procedures had little effect here and in a matter of minutes I was airside and entering that other safe haven, the BA first class lounge. I managed a quick first breakfast of cereal, coffee and one of the delicious bacon baguettes - the real 'signature dish' of the F lounge   Before too long, I was on my way to the gate for the next instalment of my latest flight fest.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

Budapest Ferihegy, very recently acquired by BAA, proved to be a modern, well organised facility, though the standard of English on some of the Customs notices had a few passengers grinning. After collecting my luggage, I had no trouble at all meeting up with the driver who was to transfer me to the InterContinental. It was a fairly enjoyable ride into town, especially as we got closer to the city centre and more and more interesting buildings started to appear. On arrival at the hotel, I was quickly directed to the Club Lounge for a private check-in. This was looking good! Sure enough, I was being granted Club access in addition to being upgraded to a River View Suite - superb! I was delighted with my accommodation, which offered wonderful views across the Danube to the historic old town of Buda on the opposite bank. Although the water level looked decidedly high, it didn't actually occur to me at this stage that the city was experiencing a serious flooding problem. I was also confused as to why people were casually strolling along the segregated tram lines just below my window. Weren't they in danger of being mown down by an approaching yellow tram

I only needed a few minutes to get myself organised and head out to explore. Once outside, it didn't take me long to realise that the river water was alarmingly high, causing flooding to both roads and tram lines along the riverbank. My objective for today was to see as much as possible of the old castle district of Buda. Anything else would be regarded as a bonus. I crossed the swollen river via the nearby Chain Bridge and rode the quaint funicular up to the castle district where I found to my confusion and consternation that I didn't initially recognise very much at all. I looked around the grounds of the National Gallery and Museum of History, admiring the excellent views across, and down, to Pest. It was only really as I emerged from this area and started making my way up to the Matthias church and Fishermen's Bastion that my surroundings started to stir distant memories. I stopped off along the way for a sandwich to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

As I then explored the Fishermen's Bastion, I soon realised that the city was really remarkably quiet. Perhaps April is still early in the year for most people, but that somehow doesn't ring true nowadays. The other thing that I quickly realised was that this place was much better than I remembered it. My memories were surprisingly vague, but I seemed to recall that Budapest was ... well, OK, but that was about it. So when it turned out to be absolutely stunning, you can imagine my delight (coupled with slight concern at the fading powers of my memory ).

When I was finally done with exploring the district, I made my way down from the Vienna Gate, crossed the river via the Margaret Bridge and had a quick look at the Parliament Building on my way back to the hotel - but more of that tomorrow. By this stage, my feet were sending out strong signals that I had done an awful lot of walking. Perhaps they were right! I had a lazy night in - not unreasonable after such an early start to the day - and opted for room service for dinner, which I enjoyed to the accompaniment of the excellent view from my suite

Saturday 08 Apr

Flight Log BA866

The Floods!

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