It was our last day in Budapest and we were determined to cram in as much as possible, squeezing every last bit out of our long weekend. We departed our Airbnb and headed underground in search of breakfast.
There was a huge array of meat, fruit and vegetables available for purchase in a pleasant environment thanks to its renovation in the mid 1990’s.
The stalls seemed to be doing a brisk trade with the locals, whilst the upstairs area filled with bric-a-brac and food stalls lured both tourists and natives alike.
For breakfast we decided to try langos, a deep fried bread with a choice of sweet or savoury toppings. With our eyes being bigger than our already swelling bellies we went for one each.
What we didn’t realise were all the add-ons that looked to be included were extra and we ended paying what felt like London prices for our food. This was probably the only time on this trip we felt we’d been caught out as tourists.
After breakfast we headed over the Liberty Bridge, taking the tram and then getting the bus up the Gellert Hills to the Citadella.
The absorbing photos from André Kertész mainly covering the First World War and a few more recent ones up until his death in the 1980’s alongside the wonderful interior of Mai Mano House made for an inspiring hour and a bit.
Our second entrant was the The Capa Centre which during the time of our visit featured an exhibition of his less known colour works. I thought they were amazing and for me, this was probably the most fun I had in Budapest not involving a glass of wine! Capa was an artist that truly lived his short life to the absolute fullest.
With our departure being at a more friendly hour than our arrival we decided that a simple trip on the M3 followed by the bus to the airport was preferential to a taxi.
We arrived at the priority desks to find them over flowing with a family who had chosen to make the most of the enhanced Club Europe baggage allowance and were fiercely repacking all fifteen bags of it at the check in desk. Judging from their reception at Heathrow I don’t think they were used to dealing with such formalities without executive assistance. Stupidly being scared to break ranks we waited it out, eventually caving in and switching lines after all three regular check in desks started to empty out.
There was no fast track access for BA customers at BUD, much to one passengers disgusted look and subsequent argument. Despite this apparent set back we were actually through security quickly enough after just about dodging a school group. We made a quick run through the shops before we arrived at passport control and with no queue we moved straight upstairs to the lounge.
Access For Selected First and Business Class Passengers and Priority Pass
Before the trip I recalled reading that the contract lounge at BUD was not much to get excited about but not being hungry (pun not intended) the bar was quite fun and I tried some of the local goodies. I began with an over generous shot of Palinka and continued with a more sensible shot of the best named drink in the world; Unicum, which I found much more agreeable. I washed these down with copious amounts of water and coffee to no great effect. Those local spirits were pretty lethal…
I spent our remaining time in the lounge attempting to regain my composure whilst enjoying the pleasant views of the tarmac including watching our aircraft taxi to its stand.
Flight: BA869 Budapest to London
Depart: BUD Terminal 2B 18:55
Arrive: LHR Terminal 3 20:35
Seats: 2A and 2C (Club Europe – Business Class)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 G-EUYC – First Flight Dec 2008 – Refurbished Oct 2019
We soon departed the lounge and took the two minute walk to the gate. A priority queue was available which was not called but enforced. We were quickly aboard and settled in to Row 2. Anne-So had the double window and was nominated for picture taking duty. The crew seemed very friendly and hot towels were offered whilst we were on the ground.
Whilst the meal may not have looked like much, I was still super stuffed from breakfast and lunch. Before we began our approach into London Heathrow we were treated to the most stunning cloud formations that made me feel like we’d flown headlong into an Italian Renaissance painting.
The crew did a couple of check-ups but seemed to have a jolly good chat for the last half hour of the flight. We flew along the Thames, past the Thames Barrier, Putney Bridge, Kew Gardens and Twickenham Stadium.
After exiting our aircraft we made the usual hike to passport control, a short walk to baggage reclaim and endured an unusually long wait for our bags. We then headed over to the tube to find the Piccadilly line was in the same mood, offering up a series of delays and a destination board that corrected itself every thirty seconds for the next ten minutes. The reality we were on our way home had fully kicked in. By Acton Town our tube car had reached rush hour level busyness but with the peaceful stoic silence of your typical commuter replaced by the banter of those seeking a night on the town. We ended up happily crushed for the next forty minutes all the way to St Pancras before boarding our high speed Javelin train home to Canterbury.
I was really glad we took this trip in 2015, it was the first holiday Anne-So and I had managed as part of the new relaxing life we had finally begun to settle into. Despite that I was about to go through a challenging time at work and I also wanted to prove that I could organise a fun trip to take my mind off things without breaking the bank. Budapest was the perfect place as not only is it a really beautiful city with excellent public transport and good food, but you can also enjoy very reasonable prices at all levels from bargain basement to full on luxury.
As much as I have no intention of talking Hungarian politics, as really I do not have the knowledge to discuss them with any confidence, my first holiday highlight was visiting the Hungarian Parliament Building. Not only was it beautiful to look at on the outside and we did from every conceivable angle, but being able to walk through those corridors of power as part of a guided tour was altogether something else. My other non-food highlight was the beautiful colour photography on display at The Capa Centre.
Speaking of food and more importantly drink, there were two memories from this trip that live long in the mind: the first a wonderful and inexpensive wine tasting at Doblo and second one of the most unusual meals I’ve ever eaten at Laci Konyha, which was probably the first, last and only time in my life I’ll ever get to try modern Hungarian cuisine!
Finally, let’s talk about the flights as after all this is supposed to be an aviation themed site! The main attraction for us was using up our Avios to travel Club Europe whilst spending very little cash. First off, and I’ll probably say this till the end of my days but I truly believe that there’s very little better in life than finishing work on a Friday night, enjoying a few complementary drinks in an exclusive(ish) airport lounge before enjoying a few more in the air whilst flying along to parts unknown. If we had booked these flights for cash as close to departure as we redeemed our Avios we’d have been looking at an eye-watering £400 or so each return as opposed to the £50 plus Avios each we actually paid. As always with Club Europe flights, if you don’t have airline status and you understand how to maximise the experience, especially when departing from London and you have the points or the cash to cover it, then that upgrade is worth it every single time in my book.
- British Airways
- The Three Corners Hotel Art
- Airbnb Budapest
- Lonely Planet Budapest
- Budapest Card
- Hungarian National Museum
- Great Synagogue
- St. Stephen’s Basilica
- Hungarian National Gallery
- Budapest History Museum
- Hungarian Parliament Building
- Great Market Hall
- Mai Mano House
- The Capa Centre