Somehow I rose at 9:30 for the free breakfast (bread, juice, jam) and a shower. I braved the bright sunshine and walked round to meet Nik who was waiting for a girl called Heidi. They’d met on another train somewhere and she lives in Budapest, working for a school somewhere. She’d given the usual traveller’s promise of “turn up and I’ll show you round” which she proceeded to do.
She showed us a lot of the sights in Pest, putting her three-year stint in Budapest to full use. The Opera House with its grand interior, 2nd largest synagogue in the world (apparently, the largest is in New York) [EDIT – I checked on Wikipedia and the largest is in Jerusalem, second in New York and third here] with it’s lovely memorial garden, the millenium monument, Basilica with mummified hand (which lights up when you put money in a box) and the statute to Anonymous – nice but I’m not sure if it’s a good likeness or not.
We caught a Metro (lovely wood-decorated stations) down to the riverside where Heidi left us to find our way over to Buda on the other side. The castle looks more like a palace – imagine Buck House rather than Balmoral. It houses some museums and galleries, none of which we went in, and the view from the top is rather nice. The one building we did see from up there that really impressed me was the Parliament. A shame we didn’t have the time to get closer, but it’s certainly a lovely structure with huge spires and a maroon roof which almost looks like velvet.
Through the baking heat, we walked back down to my hostel where I sorted out some hostels and we wandered around to find the bar we’d been in the night before. The lovely barmaid was there… armed with a Hungaro-English dictionary! We spent an hour finding a bookshop where Nik bought an English-Hungarian one so they could try to communicate.
I don’t know where the time went as we stood around swallowing cheap beer. When I left Nik at closing time, he and the barmaid were at the “holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes” stage. I was at the “which way is up and am I walking in a straight line” stage.