We had a bit of a late start to our day, as we needed to catch up on some sleep. Once up, we had a few bites to eat to keep us going for a short bit and then it was time to go.
Go where, though? I don’t think we actually planned anything. We kind of had half an idea that we wanted to go to the market to see if we could find ourselves some swimming clothes (I’ll get to that later), but mainly we simply wanted to explore the city. So we did.
We picked a direction and started walking.
Soon we stumbled upon this fancy looking donut cafe and, of course, felt the urge to enter. And have a donut. Each. Now… I don’t want to put anyone off going there but honestly? They weren’t that great. They definitely looked the part, but the pistachio one had hardly any filling in it. The salted caramel one was better, but still… Maybe I was expecting too much? However, with it being a donut cafe I still kind of feel justified to expect them to be pretty much amazing, right? Now I feel like I’m being too harsh. Hmm.
Anyway, then we continued with our walk and headed for the Liberty Square/Szabadság tér. (Oh, another reason to go during ‘off season’ – no crowds.) It was beautiful. The architecture surrounding it was magnificent, the park itself was so well-kept and it simply exuded calm and peacefulness.
After Libery Square we decided to head for the river – Danube. Whilst walking down the river bank we happened to go past the Hungarian Parliament Building. To say my jaw dropped wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Such grandeur and majestic presence, it was breathtaking. It could also be that the mists that had started to come in with a bit more force were making everything even more mystical and magical somehow, hiding the very tips of the building’s towers, making it seem like it could go on forever, hidden in the clouds.
I mentioned that it all felt a bit magical – well, what we saw next definitely didn’t help to get things back to feeling mundane. We saw a bus. Swimming in Danube. I’ll just leave it at that.
We then headed for Margaret Island/Margitsziget. Yup, it’s an island in the middle of Danube. At first we thought it would be just a small little plop of land we could circle and then continue on, but noooope. It’s huge. Well, if you’re starting to feel a bit tired and cold it is anyway. It’s 2.5km/1.6 miles long. Luckily it had a few attractions even during the cold and bleak month of January that definitely made it worth visiting. Like the mini zoo with deer, lots of birds and ponies, the biggest tree I’ve ever seen in my life and the beautiful Japanese garden with a duck pond.
By the time we reached the far end of the island, we were sufficiently far enough from our starting point that we were beginning to consider alternative modes of transport. We’d spotted these electric scooters dotted around everywhere and I for one was very curious about them. I never had a scooter (even the normal pushy one) so I wasn’t too sure how I’d manage it, but hey, I was willing to give it a go! I must say it started off a bit rocky – quite literally – I could feel every little bump on the road and it didn’t give me much confidence in not falling on my face at some point. But as we kept going I realised it was quite alright, really, and we ended up maxing our speed at over 20km/h. Which is FAST on these tiny wheels as you’re whooshing through the streets, terrified to break in case you go flying and your hands completely numb from the cold so you’re not sure you even could hit the break if you wanted to. Uh, I should probably include a disclaimer here – we were following the bike road next to the canal and only reached the highest speeds when there were no crossings and/or other people – stay safe, folks!
Our scooters soon ran out of juice though, so we continued our Exploration Quest on foot. It was getting mistier by the minute which some might’ve found gloomy or mood dampening, but we loved it. (May have something to do with Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series.)
It was starting to get a bit late and we decided to cross the river back to the (historically) Pest side of the city. It was around 4pm when we arrived at the market street with all the stores and everything. We did some window shopping and had a lovely McDonald’s date to celebrate 9 years since we first met in a McDonald’s (it’s a long story which I may share some day, but we’ll see). And then we did some actual shopping. I got a swimsuit (more on that later still), my husband got gloves and then we spent a good while in Lush, smelling all the everything and even buying some of it. After that it was back to our hotel where we spent the rest of the evening.
Overall we walked around 17km/11miles that day. And boy did we feel it the day after…