Arriving on Friday, we hit the ground running and by Sunday afternoon had walked almost 50,000 steps.
The aim (for anyone with a pedometer) is 10,000 steps a day so we certainly exceeded that and managed to hit most of the top tourist destinations in the Hungarian capital.
Friday evening we checked into the New York Palace Hotel (known for its renowned Café) and set off to explore the nearby Jewish quarter.
Budapest had a large Jewish population, at one point, twenty five percent of the city. During the Second World War, the Jewish quarter became a ghetto for six weeks and during the course of the war, ten thousand Hungarian Jews lost their lives.
We found one of the area’s well-known/secret (on trip advisor) ruined bars which seemed like a dive bar full of crap furniture, cheap booze and young people sitting in bath tubs smoking hookah pipes. Having seen plenty of this in Camden, we decided to move on.
The area felt decidedly eastern bloc and it hadn’t changed much. It was a predominantly male culture with cheap drinks being readily available.
Having arrived from South End, it was easy to see how it would appeal to the Brits on a cheap weekend.
Leaving the Castle district and walking along the bank of the Danube, we arrived at the Gellért Hotel and Baths.
Budapest is known for its thermal baths and as a lover of the outdoor hot spring, it was high on the agenda of things to do.
The Gellért is known for its Art Deco tiling and paying the entry fee, we were soon enjoying the benefits of the thermal waters in a stunning setting.
Outside, a small pool was rather crowded as the larger pool was drained for the winter. It was a little too busy with canoodling couples and so we repaired to the sauna, a rather rustic shed filled with large Hungarians.
We ventured inside where we found a lovely Art Deco swimming pool with a few elderly swimmers and a hot pool with lots of other people lounging in the rather cloudy water (best not to think about it!)
It seems swimming is not a national sport in Hungary as the main pool was almost deserted and so, having brought the obligatory cap, I swam a few lengths under a large Art Deco glass skylight and enjoyed the hot jets of water bubbling up from the floor. It was one of the nicest indoor pools, clean and with natural mineral water, chlorine-free.
After the Gellért baths, we set off towards one of the many Sky Bars around the city hoping for a sunset view.
We were hungry after taking the waters and stumbled across a popular cafe for a snack only to discover we’d found the Gerbaud Café, a Budapest institution on par with Sacher torte in Vienna. We enjoyed a sandwich not realising we should have been eating cake… oh well!
On Saturday we enjoyed a full buffet breakfast at the New York Palace Café. Buffet panic ensued, plates were piled with bizarre combinations in case things ran out, they didn’t.
Replete, we set off to the Danube and walked across the bridge to the Castle district. Climbing up the hill and avoiding the queues for the funicular railway, we arrived at the top and enjoyed a speculator view of Pest.
The weather was glorious with clear, blue skies and sunshine and we saw the city in the best conditions possible.
Walking around the area, we were taken with the sorbet painted buildings, Germanic spires and multi-coloured tile roofs of the churches.