It is now Tuesday morning and we arrived in Budapest on Sunday afternoon. Our AirBnB host, Jed, was anxiously waiting for us as he was planning to go on a vacation with his wife while we used their entire apartment. We left Vienna around 10 am but decided to stop for a walk around the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace, which I walked to myself the first day. Drew and Ilise enjoyed the walk, and Noah complained the entire time. All he wanted to do was sleep! We did have a very full day on Saturday and Noah got a lot of exercise, much more than normal, so I can understand why he was tired.
When we arrived in Budapest they were having a street fair on the block we were staying and the garage to put our car was right in the middle of the block. Our host told us to go to the other end of the street and drive in the wrong way on a one way street. This was our first experience in the city. There were people looking at us as the street was very narrow and the car is not so small. A number of people told us to turn around and go away, but we persevered and found our way into the garage. We arrived in the apartment and Jed showed us how everything worked as quickly as possible so he could get going on his vacation. The apartment is a nice 2 bedroom 1 1/2 bath right in the heart of Budapest. It is a great location.
We took a quick walk on Sunday evening to get some dinner and Ilise noticed this huge building that looked like a church, but there were stars of David in the metal fencing. She realized that it was a synagogue. We happen to be staying in the Jewish section of Budapest and there just happens to be the largest synagogue in all of Europe just 2 blocks away. We will surely visit the synagogue with the kids before we leave. We found a great little burger place just up the street from the apartment, had a quick dinner and headed back to get some rest.
On Monday morning we awoke for a 10:30 am walking tour of Budapest. I had already gone out for a 90 minute walk earlier in the morning, first finding the meeting place for the tour and then just walking along the Danube to get myself acquainted with the city. At first glance I found the city to be very special. It is not too big and not too small. The Danube cuts between Buda and Pest and together you have amazing views from each side of the river. I walked across two different bridges in the morning and then we walked across two more on the walking tour. When we arrived on the Buda side of the river (we are staying on the Pest side) we climbed up to the castle and we were able to get some amazing views of the city, including the St. Stephans Basilica and the Parliament building. The Parliament building is just spectacular and something we will most likely visit before our stay is over. We were also able to see the changing of the guard in front of the president’s office which I was able to capture on video. Hope you enjoy the ceremony 🙂
After the tour we were scheduled to meet with Andrea, the mother of two teenagers the same genders and ages as Drew and Noah. I was introduced to Andrea by a gentleman that we met on a short train ride from Pompeii to Naples. I started talking to Akos and his wife and they mentioned that they were from Budapest. I told them that we would be visiting their city in about a month and gave him my business card. Akos followed up with an introduction to Andrea, a college friend of his, who currently lives in Budapest and speaks perfect English. It turns out that Andrea worked for P&G for 15 years here and has been to the US numerous times. We headed to a local restaurant and enjoyed a really nice meal together as we planned for the kids day in school today.
Andrea coordinated with both of her kid’s schools to allow our children to join them. Balacz, Andrea’s son, is in a school in Buda and Kitte, their daughter, is in a school about a mile from our apartment in Pest. Now, the kids have been sleeping until about 10 am each morning, so this morning we needed to be out of the apartment by 7 am, which meant a 6:20 am wake up. I awoke and got the kids up and made them breakfast while they got ready. I took both of them in the car because by the time I dropped off Noah it was time for Drew to be at her school, which took 45 minutes to get to with traffic. I dropped off both kids this morning and they both seemed to blend right in with their new friends. We will find out much more when we pick them up this afternoon!
We have plans to join Andrea and her family for dinner tomorrow evening at their home and if everything goes well the kids will sleep there tomorrow evening and go to school again on Thursday. It is these experiences that have made this trip so amazing. People just showing up for us and making it possible for our family to enjoy their city unlike any other tourists can. The more we spend time with locals in the neighborhood they more amazing the trip becomes. Andrea has been so kind already and our stay in Budapest has just really begun.
To a life well lived!