Saturday, April 28, 2012

One Night in Budapest


As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the month of February in Hungary playing for ZTE KK in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary which is about 2.5 hours from Budapest. When I signed the contract I was excited to see the country because I heard only good things about it from former teammates who have played there. I had also heard great things about Budapest. This was interesting to me because I do not normally think of Budapest when I think of great European cities. My mind was completely changed after spending one night there.

I knew I needed to make it to Budapest as soon as possible when I learned that I was going to be leaving Hungary. Unfortunately my team made things a little difficult for me. I needed to receive my money before I left and the guy who was supposed to give it to me never seemed to be around. I had heard he was in Vienna and then I had heard he was skiing in the mountains and then they just didn't know where he was. I was growing extremely frustrated because I wanted to get home and also because I wanted to be able to see Budapest.

I planned my trip when I finally received my money and the team booked my ticket home. Since Liz was pregnant and I had things to do back in Milwaukee, I only had one night to spend in Budapest. My main goal was to walk along the Danube River and soak it all in.

I arrived in the city at 3 o'clock, checked into my hotel and immediately took the subway into the center. I am a fan of public transportation when I travel but I always make sure to see if it is safe beforehand. I asked my coach and he told me there would be no problems. Before I left the hotel, I took a city map and asked the concierge which subway stop to get off at. I was a little disappointed that it was cold and snowing but I was determined to make the most out of my trip.

The subway ride into the center was only 20 minutes and I was excited to see another European capital city. After examining my city map, I got off at my subway stop and took a right. Apparently I can not read a map very well because that was the wrong turn to make. As I said earlier, I wanted to walk along the Danube and see all the major sights. If I would have taken a left, then I would have been at the Danube in 5 minutes. Instead, I wandered around downtown Budapest for an hour before I got to the Danube and when I finally got there, I was at the wrong end of it. It was a very frustrating experience because I missed all of the light of day, I was wet from the snow and I had no idea where I was. I spotted a Starbucks on my wandering though and purchased a cup of coffee as well as some cool Starbucks Budapest and Hungary mugs to cheer me up.

Hungarian Parliament building along the river. 

I was overwhelmed when I finally got to the Danube because Budapest is an unbelievably beautiful city. The crummy weather and snow actually made for an amazing backdrop and the cold and wetness was all worth it. My only regret is not having a better historical understanding of the main sights. The historian in my was very disappointed although I was still very impressed without the historical background.

I spent the next 2 hours walking up and down one side of the river. I wanted to make it to Fisherman's Wharf and see a great view of the city but it was late and I did not have time. Of course the batteries died on my camera after I took 2 pictures but I quickly found a convenience store and took some more pictures.

Fisherman's Wharf
I wanted to get a typical Hungarian dinner for my last night in Hungary but I could not find a place that looked good. So, I found a T.G.I Fridays after a stroll down Andrassy Avenue (the Hungarians call it the Champs Elysees of Budapest.) I have never seen a Fridays in Europe so I just had to eat there. I would have been disappointed in myself if I didn't.

Opera House on Andrassy Avenue.
After dinner, I found my original subway stop and made my way back to the hotel. I couldn't believe how close it was to the Danube but whatever. I called Liz up right away and told her that we have to make it to Budapest again one day. I think there will be a trip to Austria and Hungary one day in our future so she can see all that Budapest has to offer.

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