Greetings from Budapest, Hungary

Here we are on the east bank of the Danube, deep in the Pest district of Budapest. It was an easy ride here from Veszprem but was it ever cold! I had my Gerbing heated jacket on for the first time in weeks. Brrr.

The Liberty Bridge, originally called the Francis Joseph Bridge, built in 1896

The Liberty Bridge, originally called the Francis Joseph Bridge, built in 1896

A good fast road brought us directly into the city. No tolls and no toll booths, despite Google warnings. As we got further and further into the urban center the freeway gradually changed into a typical 4-lane city street. Our landlord for the next couple of days sent me Google map coordinates and I entered them into my GPS, forgetting that the two don’t use the same coordinate system. Close! but not quite right. We circled around and made a u-turn and when we pulled over to figure it out, a well-dressed gentleman got out of his car just ahead of us and gave us directions that got us here perfectly. He spoke perfect English without a hint of an accent.

I had emailed back and forth with our landlord before coming and she said she was going to try and figure out parking for our bikes. Her solution would have been great but she didn’t have the keys to the big double doors to the apartment building and neither of our bikes would fit through the little people door. We parked in the loading zone long enough to get our gear off but that was long enough that our landlord was sure we would get in big trouble. She told us to park between cars for the meantime and then to go around the block to an underground parking garage.

Just before dinner, I rode my BMW around the block and parked underground. I walked back and got Debb’s VStrom to do the same thing. When I got to the garage the gate wouldn’t open. A guy in big truck pointed at a door so we went inside for help. He explained that the gate had a metal detector in the pavement and apparently the VStrom isn’t big enough to engage it.

While we were there I asked him the cost of parking – there were no signs anywhere and I assumed it would be reasonable with the landlord’s recommendation. He explained it was by the hour, 24 hours a day, with no daily or weekend rate. It would have been $150 to park there until Sunday morning. He let me take the BMW back out and we parked near a tree in the sidewalk in a place no car can use. Several folks indicated our foreign plates would act as a Park for Free ticket. They were still undisturbed when we returned this evening.

Unlike any city in Italy and most we have been in in Europe, the sidewalks are not covered in scooters. There are scooters but not nearly as many as in other countries we have been in. The streets are also very clean. We have seen many street cleaning crews of 4 or 5, men and women, walking around keeping things in order. We have also seen several guys and one gal going through the garbage cans gleaning various things. Paper and used shoes and clothing seemed to be items of interest.

We are in a typical 8 story apartment block, in the Dr Blondy Apartman Hostel and Apartments. Our host is Sally Struthers’ twin sister. The later and larger Sally. I think she is a Dr, but of what I have no idea. She said she was quite upset that her other guests canceled, but we took an extra day so she is happy again. We have a huge 3 bedroom, 3 bath apartment all to ourselves. Kind of the opposite of what you expect in a hostel.

We have a small typical tourist map of the downtown areas and we were walking around with it when I realized the sun was setting in what I thought was the northeast. The map is drawn for convenience, not for geographic accuracy and I was completely disoriented for about 10 minutes. That was an odd sensation.

We are on the Danube! What a treat. There are several long tourist boats tied up not far from us and they look like a fine way to see the country. Those boats seem about 3 times too long for their width. There are many big bridges across the river, but the green iron bridge near us is my favorite. Just gorgeous!