My sister Alka and I visited Budapest in November 2017. I am glad I was able to drag her on a vacation along with me. It was her first trip abroad and our first together as adults! One of the first places we explored there was the Margaret Island, Budapest
I am a big fan of local transport. One of our first purchases in Budapest was a 3 day travel card. We used it to buy a local sim card. Armed with a travel card and Google Maps we were ready to explore the city!
We stayed at the Novotel Budapest Danube Hotel and we could see the grand Hungarian Parliament Building from our room. So, we went to that area the very next morning. While coming back we got off the tram at the Margaret Bridge. The place looked interesting, so we walked ahead a little and that is how we tumbled upon the Margaret Island.
One of the first things we noticed was the Centennial Monument by Istvan Kiss which came up in 1973. It celebrates the 100 years of unification of cities of Buda and Pest 1873. We went to the park twice but I have to admit we didn’t explore much. If you need a comprehensive guide, do refer to this excellent resource written by Budapest by Locals!
As the island is 2.5 kilometers long, it would take some time to explore it on foot. Bicycles, buggies and electric scooters are available for hire. We somehow did not ventured into hiring something!
We were so smitten by the fall colors that we would keep getting stuck at every colorful heap of fallen leaves! As I witness no fall in my own city, I am partial to it when I get to witness it in another part of the world!
The park is 500 meters wide. If you walk towards the Danube River on the Margaret Bridge side, you get to see beautiful views of the city, along with the Parliament Building.
As it was winter, the sun would set early. I love watching the evening sky. I actually love gazing at the morning sky too, but getting up early is another story!
As the sun was setting and it was our first day in a new city, we decided to head back to our hotel. We went back to the Margaret Island on our last day of the trip too, but we still need another date with it.
My sister and I have had so much fun together that I am already planning our next November getaway!
While looking for tickets from Delhi to Budapest I gave various search engines a try! The best fares were thrown on Skyscanner and they were with Alitalia. However, there was a hitch. While coming back we had a night to spend in Rome. I still decided to take it as I would get to explore a little bit of Rome. So, here is our experience of flying Alitalia!
On the day of the flight my sister and I met at the Delhi airport, what we locallly call T3 and went to the check-in counter of Alitalia.
My sister has no last name. The staff at the counter in Delhi was young. But her senior knew how to handle this and after a while of confusion, all was sorted, we had our boarding passes right up to Budapest.
And then we saw it, the queue at immigration! It was the worst that I have ever encountered on my numerous trips out of T3. We came in quite early, so we had plenty of time to negotiate it and it took plenty of time too. Finally, we made it through security and went to our gate. Boarding happened in an orderly manner.
The flight from Delhi to Rome was quite empty. On an obscenely early morning flight the empty middle rows are such welcome sight. After the food service was over, I went to a nearby empty row and went off to sleep, tucking myself in a blanket. The plane was a new looking A 330. I love it when I am flying with a companion as it has 2X4X2 seating. My sister and I happily took the window and the aisle and we never had to bother about any other passenger on the plane.
After sleeping for about 4 hours, I woke up and my sister went off to sleep. I watched a Japanese movie “Tap, the Last Show.” At day break I clicked a few customary pictures. After a while my sister woke up too. The cabin crew was helpful throughout.
When the breakfast was served, one of the flight attendants would talk to me in Italian and his colleague would smile and tell me to ignore him! This went on for a while, and it was good fun! This was a first for me! He did it after a while with my sister too! I wonder why I didn’t reply in Hindi? I must have been too sleepy! Soon it was time to land. All in all, it was a good flight.
The Rome Delhi flight was quite full but then I was not as tired or sleepy when I was flying back. I binge watched on movies and had a pleasant flight. I ate Italian vegetarian with wine and I was content. I liked their tea!
The Rome Budapest flight was full with a lot of luggage space taken by jackets and strollers. We still found space to tuck in our shoulder bags. It was less then two hours flight, something like what we would take within India on say Jet Airways! The Budapest Rome flight was nearly full. They serve tea/coffee and light snacks on this flight.
As we had a lot of time in transit in Rome both ways, we went to the city. We did not spend much time at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. We stayed at the Hilton Rome Airport Hotel for the night.
But from whatever time we spent at the airport, it is comfortable with plenty of eating and shopping options. The most convenient way to go to the Rome city center is the Leonardo Express Train.
When I fly on my own, I have to search for a cheap ticket, that is the common denominator for me. But if I find it on Alitalia again, I will be happy to fly with them! We had good flights all around with them!
PS. As I fly so many times with sponsors, it is time to write a clarification the other way round. I was on a personal trip to Budapest and we paid for our fights.
Visiting Szechenyi Thermal Baths in Budapest is a must do activity! It was a bliss to take a dip in the hot pools and sit in sauna! We went during the day, the place has great atmosphere. For my sister Alka, I think this was the highlight of the trip. I had intentionally left if for our last full day in the city. She remarked, “it can be done immediately after arrival too, as you are tired then as well!”
Széchenyi Thermal Bath is conveniently locate next to the Széchenyi Furdo Metro Station on M1 line. Get out of the station and walk into the reception, it is that close! As we went in November, we did not pre-book our tickets online. It was not crowded at all, at the reception. We could easily buy the tickets.
You will have an option of buying a ticket with cabin, which is more expensive than the normal ticket. We bought the normal ticket that comes with a locker. They give you a wrist band which is to open and close the locker. Just wear it and move around, you can go into the water with it. The locker was enough to store our belongings, in fact we used only one locker between the two of us. The men and women changing rooms are separate. So, there was no problem in finding a corner to change after our shower in the women area at the end! In my opinion you don’t need the cabin.
If the indoor pools are fun, outdoor pools are gorgeous! It is an amazing experience to enjoy the outdoor hot water pools on a cold day! The baths are equally popular with the locals and the older population. It is amazing to see women gossiping together in the middle of a pool!
In the beginning the outlay of the bath may seem confusing. But you will figure it out eventually. You can keep walking from pool to pool indoors and at the end you will emerge to one side of the outdoor pools. Repeat the exercise to emerge at the other end of the outdoor pools!
I strongly recommend that you read the FAQ section of the official website before going. You need to carry your own towels, swim wear, and pool slippers. If you don’t then you will end up renting some of it. And it will cost you money! We had swimwear and towels but not slippers. We did fine indoors, there were many others walking barefoot like us.
But it was damn cold to walk barefoot outside. We did it, but do carry your poolside footwear, you will enjoy more. There is an outdoor lap pool too. You need to wear a cap to do the laps. But the two circular outdoor pools do not require any caps. If you plan to do laps, do carry your swimming cap!
Some of the indoor pools are filled with cold water, like the one behind us. We only dipped our toe and decided it was not for us! So, do check the temperature before plunging in. There is an indoor exercise pool too, where you can join in for free.
Photography is allowed at the pools, do read the official take here. The only trick is that you have to watch out for your phone and GoPro. As there were two of us, we managed fine. There are signs telling you to keep your valuables in the locker. The management is not responsible for them. I did leave my DSLR in the hotel but I carried my phone and GoPro all around and I am glad I did.
While it is fun outside, all the saunas are inside and they are insane fun too! There was one which had the scent of mint. It was my favorite. Some pools are open at night too. I read about night pool parties but we were content to enjoy it during the day!
Both of us were totally smitten by the idea of making such a grand pool available to common public. Of course there is an ticket, the cheapest a little more than 1.2K Indian rupees, which is not too expensive for such a grand place at all. And we loved it that the senior citizens came out in such numbers! It was fun to watch them play chess with beer!
Here is a short video of the Szechenyi Baths. It features Alka in a few clips! We both had a gala time indeed. I am already looking forward to our next vacation together, though it will happen next year only!
Szechenyi Baths are huge fun, it is a must on your Budapest itinerary. There are other baths in Budapest too, but it is a pity that we could not check out anything else.