2018 proved to be a very busy year with the construction of a new dealership which resulted in some vacation days that had to be taken before May 1st. What a great reason to take some time off and travel with a friend to Budapest via a short pass in Salzburg Austria. Elan and I decided to venture to Budapest, knowing the journey would be as exciting as the destination.
Take an early flight to Atlanta, hang around the airport for our late afternoon flight to Munich and BINGO….we’re at the rental counter picking our car. Elan sets his GPS on the car dash and away we go. Destination Salzburg Austria. Seeing Salzburg was on our way to Budapest, we decided to drive through the city and see what it had to offer.
We had an extremely comfortable SUV and driving along the tight corners of the mountain, we’ve come to realize the path was actually for pedestrians. A quick stare from neighbouring cows convinced us we’ve taken a wrong turn.
Retracting our steps slowly in reverse while guided by Elan, we finally were able to place the vehicle on solid ground and head to Budapest. The drive through the city revealed beautiful architecture with mountainous backdrops.
It seemed rain was following us throughout the drive to Budapest and hit the hardest while trying to locate the parking for our hotel. In painting the picture of the night, driving along unfamiliar territory with rain and night glare, nerves were starting to flare and a line up of miles and miles of trucks along the road. GPS continuously calculating, cobble stone roads reflecting along slippery paths and eyes trying to shut down from the long day’s journey. In these European cities, where footprints are tiny, the buildings seem to have basements that go on forever. After many turns we finally spot the parking and nestle our rental between two yellow lines that will be home for the next 3 days.
Following morning, purchase a 2 day hop on hop off pass and start exploring the city. Like I mentioned in many blogs, the hop on hop off bus is a great way to feel the city vibe at your own pace. In Budapest, it also included both a night and boat tour. Not only see the great parliament via land, the view from the water was breathtaking.
Sun was shining and boarded a fairly large boat to see the city center from the Danube river. Cool breeze, cool sites, upbeat music and history facts made this tour very enjoyable. Couldn’t help notice a few other passengers with queasy stomachs lined up along the side of the boat feeding the fish with their digested lunches. Float under the Margaret Bridge which was built to join the Buda at one side and Pest on the other and take a glimpse of Margaret Island. Large scenic recreational park area.
The Hungarian Parliament is one the nicest buildings I have ever seen. The European architectural design mixed with the gothic roof points give it such an impressive design. Later that evening we did a night bus tour and saw it with flood lights once again giving it such and impressive presence.
Day 2 was similar as we took the hop on again. This time with a little twist. We hopped on the smallest bus I’ve ever taken that was able to breeze through traffic and restricted areas with no problem at all. Sun was shining, blue skies and tourists everywhere. We head to a location called Fisherman Bastion and the scenic view of the city was incredible. Many say that this location looks like the famous Walt Disney Logo.
Equally breath-taking was the view from the Citadel. Stroll along a park, stop for lunch at a local eatery and ponder on how we’re lucky enough to travel the world.
During the many escapes we take, we try to mingle with the locals to get a true feel of the culture. In Budapest, besides the local merchants we’d speak to, 95% of the people were all from abroad. Tourists just like us! From what we gathered, the city is relatively clean, the people are extremely friendly, all minding their own business and live to the fullest.
The location of the hotel we stayed at for the first 2 nights, unbeknownst to us, was located at the central part of where the Budapest 6th Annual GREAT RACE would be held. Coincidental the same weekend we were there. This race attracts all race enthusiasts for F1 drivers are performing smoke shows while aerial demonstrations fly above the city center. That is when it dawned on us that the rate skyrocketed for the hotel stay and reason why we booked our last night in another area.
As with every trip, the journey back home is quite challenging and after looking at the flights and different possibilities, we confirm the best course of action would be getting to Amsterdam and flying home from there. Smooth sailing…what can possibly go wrong?
Return journey starts with a drive from Budapest to Munich. Return our car rental and seeing we had confirmed with Rita, the car rental agent, if we are permitted to bring the vehicle back with no gas and that they would charge us the normal going rate per liter, we decided in doing just that. Unfortunately, what Rita confirmed to us was not what the return agent charged us. 300 euros for a fill up. We took the car back, dashed to nearest gas station, filled up with 90 Euros and back we were.
Upon our arrival in Munich, did more flight research and noticed that our best chance would be leaving from Amsterdam. Book a high-speed train with several stops and after 11 hours, Amsterdam welcomes us with cold and rainy weather.
So convinced the flight was wide opened out of Amsterdam, our train ride was great. Arrive into Schiphol airport around 3am and notice something is not right. Amsterdam Schiphol airport has suffered the worst power failure which has caused commotion and chaos. GREAT! The challenge is on. Reported by the Amsterdam news feed……
Amsterdam is one location in which the Delta Air Lines check-in is done by our code share partner KLM. One issue with this is that our portal doesn’t reflect the passenger count and leaves us standby passengers blind. We both missed the first 2 flights, have an issue to re-book Elan’s ticket, help desk can’t resolve the matter, chaos is starting to stress us out, but finally I make it on the 4th flight, and Elan the last. Mission accomplished.