Arriving in Budapest

It’s travel time again! This time I’m taking up the blog again sooner than expected. I’m going to spend the week seeing Budapest and Vienna!

It’s strike season in France, so getting from Versailles to Charles de Gaulle airport took over two and a half hours -longer than getting from Paris to Budapest. Trains to Paris only left Versailles once every hour and a half, and when I finally got to central Paris I found out the previous day’s announcement that “there’s an RER B train every ten minutes” only applied up to Gare du Nord. Up to the airport -only one in five trains is operational, ha ha! Psych! 
I saved the lives of an entire Korean family who were hopelessly (and understandably) lost at the station and couldn’t figure out what was going on. The father spoke English, so I explained to himthat the trains were on strike, and he went “Ooooh” and relayed this in Korean to his wife and two little girls, who all went “Ooooh”. Then the father said “Okay, we follow you”, and sure enough they tailed me until we all got off at the airport one solid hour later. They bowed and bowed as they said goodbye. I hope they get back home okay!

The flight from Paris to Budapest was, inexplicably, chock-full of Americans. What gives? Were they all part of an organised group? What kind of American organised tour goes from Paris to Budapest instead of, say, Berlin?
After landing in Budapest, I took a cab to the hotel. There’s a centralised stand for taxis right outside the gates, where you tell them where you want to go and they give you a receipt with a quote. That way you know you’re not being overcharged -and indeed we only paid 6,900 forint for the ride. It’s roughly 22€, or what a taxi in Paris would charge me to open the trunk without running off. 
It was already about 6PM by the time we had all unpacked at the Hotel Continental Zara (no relation to the Spanish clothing brand) (I assume) (I didn’t pick it because of the name!), so we only had time for a brief walk before it got dark. Although the hotel is really nice and everything’s new and modern and spitless, the avenue to the city centre looked rundown, with rubbish on the street and people sleeping in corners. 

It got a lot better once downtown, which was lively and festive on a Saturday evening. We made our way to Szabadsag Bridge to take a quick look at the Danube (we’ll see plenty of it in the next few days!) and then enjoyed a leisurely stroll up Vaci utca, a pedestrian street with lots of shops and cafés. Half of Budapest seemed to be there, shopping or enjoying drinks before the football began. 
We got on a ferris wheel near the river, a Budapest Eye of sorts which seemed to be run by a bunch of teenagers who stopped the wheel at the wrong time once while we were waiting. Red flag! But we had already paid for our tickets and were in the queue, so we had to swallow our concerns. The views were indeed beautiful. It was great to see all the incredible architecture that is waiting for us to visit.

And that’s all for today! This was just a warmup before the serious sightseeing starts tomorrow!

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