Once again I was up and about before the others. This time I crossed to Buda further down the river, using the Szabadsag Bridge which is closest to where the lads live and leads to the Gellert Hotel and Baths. This bridge is under wraps at the moment while it undergoes major renovation, but it's still open to pedestrians. I spent a short while around Gellert which included a visit to a church which is carved into a cave, then walked back along the river to Elizabeth Bridge, making my way back to a square where I'd said in a note I'd be at a given time. I took this photo shortly before crossing the river from Pest to Buda (from across the road, with my little camera set to the extreme of its rather sad optical zoom capability). I was taken by the shadow and the religious plaque on the wall. I don't know what the building is. It's not far from the little bar which turned out to be the place we spent most time in during our stay in Budapest.
We met as arranged, went for a quick bite to eat, then took the metro to Heroes Square before heading back for one last time to our favourite little bar. The barman called a taxi for us, we went back to pack after tossing back our last drink in Budapest and all headed to the airport. After an emotional farewell with the lads Carl and I barely had time to grab some stuff in the duty-free shop before boarding our plane. We'd been concerned while away because of a threatened strike by Aer Lingus pilots, but already knew that the situation had been resolved. Everything went smoothly, we took off on time and got back to Dublin on time, getting back home by 11.00 pm.
So, a pretty exhausting time spent in Budapest all in all. It's a wonderful city. It's the sheer scale of the place which is the most striking, with its grand avenues, its fine buildings (many in bad repair, but being restored all the while), its terrific café culture, and its wonderful location along the banks of the mighty Danube. I was a little bit unsure about the wisdom of returning such a few months after my previous visit, but I'm delighted that I did. We'll be back.
The past six days have been wonderful. It's always good to take a break from the environment you're used to, and it's even better when circumstances allow you to do that twice within such a short while, and to do take two breaks which are so utterly different. As I write this I can't help wondering how well I'll cope with settling back into my usual routine. It was difficult enough after coming back from Croatia and what I consider the real holiday of the year, but now my head is full of the sights and sounds of a truly great European city and I'm worried that this will unsettle me even more.
Anyway, my trusty iBook came with me to Budapest as it had done to Croatia, but difficulties connecting to the internet in my mates's apartment (basically, David couldn't remember his username and password) meant that I wasn't able to upload pics while away. So the best part of today (Wednesday) has been spent sorting through my Budapest images in an effort to find something half-way reasonable to post for each day. Budapest catchup begins here, and there's also an extended selection of Budapest images here. Do take a look.
Also, for reasons which will become obvious after reading my commentaries on the previous six days, it didn't prove possible while away to keep up to date with happenings in Blipland. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found that I'd accidentally chosen a Budapest image which satisfies the latest Assignment. If only I'd known: Budapest is a city wonderfully rich in urban texture of all sorts, from roads and pavements dug up all over the place to enormous holes in the ground as part of construction of the new Metro line to bullet holes in so many walls, to deeply profiled mock-stone façades ... ah well, this one will have to do for now.