We drove the 350-ish kms from Zagreb to Budapest on Sunday, which was a good day to travel and find our way through Budapest – not as much crazy traffic and free parking in the city so we could get our bearings, use the free wifi at a McD’s and find the apartment.
On the Croatian side we drove on the autoceste and paid the toll at the end, but on the Hungarian side we needed a motorway pass (or matrica or vignette). They’re available from petrol stations and post offices (but not on a Sunday, obviously), and there were a few signs pointing to where they are available at places just off the motorway. 2975 forint, about $15, or 13 euros – cash only, no credit card payment. We had euros, and got change in euros.
Next stop was Tesco, for condensed milk. We couldn’t find it anywhere in Croatia, so Greg had to go without his morning porridge for a few days, because we didn’t buy quite enough in Italy. Even here, it seems that Tesco is the only place that sells it, but Greg will make sure he’s stocked up from now on. Prices here seem much cheaper than in Croatia, which has a 25% GST. If there’s any kind of consumption tax here, it’s not itemised on cash register dockets.
We’re spending 3 nights in Pest, which is on the eastern side of the Danube. Our apartment is close to public transport and just a few streets away from some of the interesting stuff. We’re on the top floor of building that has a currency exchange and the local equivalent of a $2 shop at street level, in a street filled with pubs, takeaway places and nightclubs. You can see some photos of the apartment here.
Yesterday morning we walked to the magnificent Parliament Building, past the Soviet Army Memorial and nearby larger-than-real-life statue of Ronald Reagan, then along the Danube past the poignant Shoes on the Danube monument and a short tram trip to Nagycsarnok – Central Market (literal translation is ‘great hall’). We bought corn on the cob for dinner, and strawberries for Greg to eat right then. Quite a few stalls were closed with a few signs up that they would be reopening in early September. August is the month when lots of locals go away for their summer break.
I found an interesting-looking food truck in an in-flight magazine at the apartment, and it turned out that they also have 2 shops as well, one of which is in the same street as the apartment! We’re staying at number 33, and Meat & Sauce is at number 34, but because of the strange street numbering it’s 2 blocks down the street. We had lunch there yesterday – Roast Pork sandwiches with fat fries … delicious!
We’ve discovered that we’re flying out of Munich the same weekend as Oktoberfest starts! Ack! I suddenly remembered yesterday that Oktoberfest is not actually in October, so Greg hopped online to get some dates and organise accommodation for the night before we leave. The place we stayed at when we arrived 3 weeks ago is now double the price, but we got a room at a hotel near the airport. Phew – if we had left it till the last minute which is our usual travel style, we possibly would have been sleeping in the car. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal, really. But I’m kinda glad we’ll be sleeping in a bed the night before we embark on 25+ hours of travel.
Today we’re going across to Buda to see some stuff. So far I’ve learnt that we could easily spend a lot more time in this beautiful city, there’s so much to see.