City tour and dinner
A buffet breakfast with lots of choice before we meet our guides and set off on our city tour. We’ve hired personal radio headsets for the day and distribute these into 4 groups, each one with a local guide, to enhance the tour experience.
We start with a walking tour on the Buda side of the city, including seeing the Fisherman’s Bastion and St Stephen’s Basilica. The views of the Parliament building across to the Pest side of the city are fabulous. And the initial rain shower disappears quite promptly! Our two private coaches are waiting for us and we continue the tour via Hero’s Square and the Opera House before reporting to the Budapest Parliament building for a guided tour. Entry into the Parliament is restricted and we’ve had to book a time slot months in advance. That seems fine until factoring in a toilet stop at the entrance to the building. There are only 4 loos for ladies and the queue is already quite long! Dawn (and even Richard!) are seen chasing clients out of the toilets!
The Parliament Building is wonderful and some guests are even lucky enough to see the changing of the guard in the room holding the crown jewels. Two soldiers in full regalia exit the room ‘goose-stepping’ out, while two new guides step in. All choreographed by a senior officer, barking instructions. Long pointed swords are also involved! Unfortunately, some of our guests had not realised that the soldiers were real people (they were standing quite still!) and swinging swords caught them by surprise! Following the excitement, we all headed back to the hotel for some free time before dinner.
Full details were not announced in advance but everyone had to report to the hotel lobby just before 7pm tonight. Outside, we had a fleet of minibuses ready. With all aboard, we drove across the bridge to Pest and into the narrow old city centre to our dinner venue, a restaurant called Urban Betyar. This is a place with a difference! The venue is a family owned restaurant with a public dining area, private rooms and an ethnographic museum in the basement. We start with a welcome drink and are invited to a large private room where we take our seats at round dining tables. The goulash soup starter is delicious and the main course chicken cooked delightfully. We’re not quite sure about the potato dish that came with the chicken but it was apparently local and it’s good to try these things! The pancake dessert was a hit, and the free flow wine and beer seemed to go down well too. During the evening, we were entertained by a local group playing zithers and singing, and to conclude our event, we’re invited to try a peach brandy and/or a local herb based liqueur. The peach was popular, the herbs more like an alcoholic cough mixture?
At the end of the evening we must coordinate our minibuses because they block the narrow road as we load up! Everyone manages to get a seat except Richard and Dawn, who grab a local taxi and get back to the hotel before some guests!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock © TTstudio