This city was making my dreams become reality. So many times I was imagining myself having breakfast in a fancy place with high ceilings, where classic music would be gently playing in the background and the waiters would be serving champagne. To say that I was speechless when I came down to breakfast, is to say nothing. Bright restaurant with a majestic colored glass cupola in the middle, at the height of at least 20 meters, beautiful classic music and… champagne. “Good morning, Mr. Pavlo. Where would you like to sit today?”. He choose the table underneath the cupola, right in the middle of the restaurant, as if knowing exactly my thoughts. He offered me champagne and I gladly accepted. There were no words to describe my feelings then, as there are still no words to do it now. Everything was perfect.
As we stepped out of “Le Meridien” adventure time has started. The street was full of tourists.The air was bitter. Autumn was queen in this town. Now and then my jaw was dropping by the scenes and views Budapest had to offer. Everything was so grand. Every corner – full of history. I could not wait to explore the city.
After a couple of hours of walking in the rain, followed by warming ups in cosy cafes we were ready for the most popular Hungarian attraction – thermal baths. We chose Szechenyi Baths, situated in the center and surrounded by a beautiful park. We queued for a while, calculated how many people are inside and almost simultaneously chose to give up this idea. Let me explain why. For the local pensioners, going to the baths is a daily activity, which can be compared to drinking coffee or playing board games in the Mediterranean countries. There were groups of people waiting for each other to go in. For some reason, we were expecting a private approach and definitely some private space. It was not going to happen. The place was crowded. Although there are 21 pools in Szechenyi, we felt a bit claustrophobic. The ticket was not cheap – 5600 Hungarian Forints or around 18 euro.
We chose the spa facilities of our Le Meridien Hotel, and it was a great decision. Beautiful swimming pool under a colourful cupola, with a comfortable relaxing zone, with warm jacuzzi and very nice steam room and sauna. The best part was – we were alone, despite the weekend. For a romantic getaway, it was a perfect place with perfect conditions.
Also, it was during this trip, that I rode a bicycle, for the first time since childhood. We rented them in St. Margaret’s island. This place stays in the middle of the Danube river, and is a huge park with numerous activities for the whole family. We saw people doing canoeing, riding bicycles and family bikes, walking, roller blading, playing tennis, swimming in an Olympic size pool and even enjoying thermal baths in the hotel on the island. We needed to become part of this little life. It was a beautiful experience. Autumn nature is particularly magical, at least for me. Chilly wind and falling yellow leaves were adding on to the atmosphere that was surrounding us.
St Margaret’s Island has a couple of lakes and picturesque cafes. It was there, that we saw a cosy and “warm” park bench. It was covered in multiple, colourful scarves. Needless to say, that sitting on it on a cold November day was very pleasant.
I can go on and on and on about the trip to Budapest. It is magical, beautiful, comfortable and vibrant city. It is a museum in the open air, where people can explore the architecture, the parks, the monuments, the natural landscapes. Both sides of the city, Buda and Pest are very different. Yet, together, they create a special, young and unique European capital.