A Travellerspoint blog

Bled

Slovenia's Lake Bled

sunny 28 °C

Before I start talking about my travels here, I just want to highly recommend Slovenia to anyone.

I travelled here with my girlfriend, Lydia, for a little break after I'd just came back from Benidorm on a stag do and didn't really want to stay in the UK. I'd read a bit on Slovenia before and was aware that it was a fairly mountainous region, especially to the north. The outdoors is something I'm found of and researched a bit more of the area. I then came across Lake Bled. The picture I found on Google doesn't even do it justice. The lake has no motorised engines, boats etc on it. Just oars.

I'll rewind a couple of hours or so to the beginning of the journey. We had to travel from North East England down to Stansted airport just north of London at about 2 in the morning. I was a tad hungover and Lydia didn't seem that excited to go. Being the bad boyfriend I am, I was off work for 3 weeks but she was still working. I managed to convince her to leave her job and come away. Something that in hindsight was one of the best things she's done. Where she was working wasn't ideal for her. Long hours, basic pay and zero job satisfaction.

The drive down was horrendous. I was still feeling a bit rough from the stag do and was far too tired to concentrate properly. Lydia was worrying about work and what she'd just committed to. When we arrived at the airport, we headed straight for the pub and tried to get the holiday in to a positive frame. The plane journey wasn't the best either. Whilst I was on the there I've got to admit I was regretting the trip a little bit but it was far too late to do anything about it. The pilot announced that we weren't far from landed when out of nowhere luscious green mountains were appearing all around the plane. The whole area was just green and there were tiny towns and settlements dotted around. It looked gorgeous. On the descent in to Ljubljana we could just about make out Bled and the lake it sits on.

We landed safely and a few minutes ahead of time. Lydia smokes so the only thing she was bothered about at this point was to have a cigarette. We must have waited outside whilst she had a smoke for about half an hour. The sun was shining and it was a nice temperature but I was keen to get there. By this point it must have only been about 10 in the morning, so we hailed a taxi down and asked how much to Bled. €30 he told us so we jumped in and began the journey.

We passed a lot of billboards for outdoor activities; hiking, white water rafting etc. One thing that did stand out was the amount of billboards for casinos. I wouldn't have associated Slovenia with casinos and was quite surprised as to how many there were. On the final stretch of the journey, we passed loads of camp sites,log cabins, smaller hotels and apartments and then out of nowhere we drove over the top of this hill to see the lake in all it's glory. It looked stunning. The mountains in the backdrop still with a bit of snow on, turquoise water and a typical European picturesque town. We looked at each other and were instantly overwhelmed with it all.

We were dropped off at our hotel (Hotel Trst) which was just set back from the lake front, behind another hotel. We booked in to our room to find that we had been given a lake view room which was to our delight. The views from that room encompassed a large portion of the Julian Alps and also Bled's castle. As we only had 3 nights here, we wanted to get on with exploring so with a quick shower and change parade we were out the door to see what the place had to offer.

Walking out of the hotel we were straight on the main road that loops around the lake and following that anti clockwise took us lakeside. I honestly could not believe the colour and tranquility of the water. Towards the western edge of the lake is a tiny island that houses a church and with passenger boats powered by one mans oar taking you there, we couldn't resist. It took about 15-20 minutes to get to the island where the boat docked and everyone disembarked. We were greeted instantly by a number steps leading up to the church itself. On the left as you walk up is a Christian little shrine. To be honest, we probably should have paid more attention to the church and found out the history behind it but we were too enthral led by the views. At the top you could see Bled in it's glory. The famous tabogoning could be heard with people screaming at their enjoyment. The beached area which was packed full of travellers. The castle over looking the lake and the restaurants and bars at it's feet. We roughly had half an hour on the island before we were ferried back.

We wanted to scope more of the area out so began seeing what restaurants were around for us to eat in tonight but knowing Lydia, we ended up in a bar having a social few before carrying on looking. Somewhere to eat is easy to find around there, the place is littered with different restaurants and street food tenders selling great food at decent prices. We settled for a restaurant just off the initial front row of lakeside shops and it was lovely. It reminded me of a little Tapas place you'd expect to see in Spain.

After eating we realised it was getting late so we headed back to the hotel to get ready and enjoy our first night here. The sunset is nothing to be shunned about. You see it casually dressing behind the Alps with an extraordinary glow coming through the cravasses. That night we relaxed in "Devil's Bar" just off the lakeside and enjoyed a few vodkas and lagers before calling it a night.

We didn't really know what we wanted to do the following morning so we headed to the little square where the shop was to grab something to eat. In this little area different cafés offering (what we could only interpret) as traditional Slovene breakfast - hot dogs. Neither of us were complaining like as we both love hot dogs. After quickly scoffing them down, I had a quick look at the shops encorparated in to this area. There was all sorts. Jewellers, clothes shops, tattoo shop and a taxi rank to name a few. Lydia seems to be obsessed with jewellery and one little shop caught her eye straight away. We wandered over and whilst she was looking through this little chics stock, I noticed that they also hire out bikes. This was a perfect way to see what the western and northern edges of the lake had to offer.

"How much for 2 bikes please?" I asked. The lady told me that it was €4 per bike for the day. I was a bit taken aback by that as I was expecting more like €20 each for the day. I looked at Lydia and with her little smile that she does when she knows I've got my own way, the bikes were ours for the day. The road going round Bled is pretty busy especially mid morning to mid afternoon so I told her to ride in front and to head for that little beached area we saw the day previous. On the way, there was more cafés and restaurants dotted about on the south western edge of the lake but nowhere near as built up as where we had just rode from. We stopped for a split second to take in what was around us. I spotted a house set amongst the trees that looked like it had been featured on Grand Designs and is something I aspire to live in in my later life.

We carried on riding round towards this beached area only to find that is was already full. It literally looked like no one else could fit on this tiny area so we parked up in a cafe on the other side of the road. Behind this cafe was a massive camp site that couldn't be seen until you were practically at it's front gate and there was a lot of people coming in and out of it. We sipped our well deserved drinks and soaked up the sun. This is what holidays are about. Relaxing with those closest to you and creating memories.

We continued riding clockwise and found a grassed area where there were more people taking in the relaxed atmosphere and enjoying the sun. We decided to stop for a while but by this point, grey clouds came from nowhere and it began to rain. Luckily next to this open grassed area was a little tree line that sheltered us and everyone around this area for about 20 minutes. It didn't look like it was going to die down so I said to Lydia let's just go, it's only a bit of rain water. She reluctantly agreed and we hopped on our now soaking bikes to crack on with the journey. As you approach the northern edge of the lake, it raises it's elevation every so slightly which then creates a gradual climb up to the foot steps if the castle. Before the climb ventured away from the lake, there was a lot of people scrambling around two men. Being the nose beggar I am, I wanted in on this and find out what was going on. One man was holding an Itallian flag whilst the other was holding a massive fish that they'd just caught from the lake. Both of them were jumping for joy.

The rain at this point had eased off but it was still cloudy and looked as though it could turn for the worse at any point. We found another cafe that overlooked the lake which on further looking, had it's own private swimming area for guests to take a dip. It had a couple of slides for kids wanting to have some fun (wasn't just restricted to kids, adults were allowed on too) and seating area for people to bask. We sat down and ordered a couple of drinks when the clouds were starting to clear and the sun and warmth were returning. I reckon we must have been at this cafe for a good 3 hours before I mentioned that it's probably time we head back and get ready to go out for a meal.

On the approach to the lake on our first day, there's a lot more hotels dotted alongside his route that are a good 5 minute walk from the lakeside. I mentioned that we should maybe eat up there tonight and explore a bit more. On walking up there, we were both unaware at the time that the restaurant we had chosen to eat at was a Best Western hotel; a chain that we were both farmiliar with by living in England. We sat on the terrace with views of the lake and once again the sunset was fantastic. For some strange reason, we were both in the mood for fish. I think it might have been the big fish tank that they had on display and I joked about that being our food. In all fairness, the fish that we had was gorgeous. Neither of us could fault it.

Once the plates had been collected and the bill settled we walked back to the lake. We felt as though there wasn't much happening further up that road so didn't bother with it. As we approached the lake there was a sign in massive letters: "CASINO". I hadn't told Lydia about my gambling times, wasting thousands on FaceBook's Zynga poker game so I hinted that we went. She seemed quite excited to go in and after we both registered, we entered the tropical themed casino. It was tiny and nothing I'd experienced the year before in Vegas but what can I expect, it's not a gambling scene is it so of course it wasn't going to be like Vegas?!

I changed €50 and began playing on the BlackJack table when a woman approached us and asked if we'd like any drinks. This WAS like Vegas! I ordered two lagers and Lydia got a double vodka lemonade. The money was constantly up and down as I was becoming more and more intoxicated by these free alcoholic drinks. I moved on and tried explaining poker to Lydia whilst I played my first hand. I didn't realise how hard and complex Texas Hold 'Em is when explaining the rules to someone. I gave up in the end as she was a bit drunk too. Flittering between these two games, it was safe to say I must have lost €150 that night. Never mind.

On exited the casino, we noticed that "Devil's Bar" we were in the night before so we sat down and had a couple more in there. It was quite busy and I remember a trio of Irish girls sitting on the table next to us. They must have been on a trip around Europe as they were talking (rather loudly) about where they had been etc. Lydia got up to go to the toilet and at this point I was asked by one of the girls if I could take a picture of them. I agreed and she noticed I was English and asked the general "Where are you from? What are you doing here?" Etc etc. Once Lydia returned we moved on and at this point she was a bit piddled. When she's like this, it's quite hard to convince her she's had enough and it's time to call it a night. I thought I'd managed it at one point until, literally 50 metres from the hotel, there was an upstairs bar which seemed to have a but of an atmosphere. She dragged me up there excited but stumbling all over.

I got her a cocktail in this bar and myself a local pint of Union lager. I think the most I paid so far for a pint was €3 so I wasn't moaning when the whole thing came to €7. The bar wasn't anything special but seemed to be a popular one as when we left and got back to the hotel, I could hear the music blasting well after 4 in the morning.

The next morning, Lydia woke up rough and couldn't remember leaving the casino! I opened the curtains to find the same grey clouds meeting us and the rain soon started. We walked round to the same hot dog loving place and wondered what we could do today. This was after all our last full day here. One place we hadn't been yet was the castle so I suggested we ventured up there and see what it was all about. The route up took us past a smaller, more modern church before winding up and around some residential streets. We had a quick look in the church to see what it was about to find it had a little souvenir shop. I laughed and mentioned that we should get some "I love Bled" tee shirts which Lydia seemed to love. I was confused band said we'll come back tomorrow to get them. I thought we were lost and just climbing for the fun of it when we finally saw the castle gates. It reminded me of a smaller castle I had seen in Bratislava with the terrocota tiles and white walls. Little did we know by this point that the castle was a museum and it explained the history of Bled and it's surrounding area. Although the cloud sere in and it was raining, it was still humid and the views were great. We could see all of Bled and the neighbouring towns, the Julian Alps and the church island in the middle of the lake.

After looking round the museum, I found a different way to get back to the lake. It took us down a path through a massive over growth of trees and conifers. It was gorgeous but was soon over. When we emerged on the other side of the trees, we were nearly this hotel/restaurant that looked really modern and appealing. After doing something I wanted to do, it was Lydia's turn and she suggested we stop at this place for a drink and scope out the menu for maybe coming back tonight. We sat down outside but under a sheltered part as it was still raining. I went inside to use the toilet to find that the restaurant looked amazing and instantly wanted to try out the food tonight. We made reservations and asked the shift manager if we could get a really good outdoor seat. We were both excited and looked forward to our last night in Bled.

We returned a couple of hours later after being showered and changed and to much delight that the clouds had disappeared and the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains. We were sat down just outside the restaurants decking area with a band a matter of feet away from us. Before they started playing they introduced themselves and they turned out to be quite a successful Itallian band playing an array of styles of music. They started playing, the sun was setting and the food was brilliant. It was something like out of a romantic film and quite surreal. After the food, we stayed for a few extra drinks before heading to a bar.

The bar was perked above the casino and was packed. We got a bottle of wine and carried on with the romance that had been created naturally. This was how I wanted the final night to go. It was perfect and neither of us wanted it to end. That walk back to the hotel seemed to take an eternity as we were both walking slow to drag it out.

That morning was an awful morning as we wanted to stay longer. We now had the trouble of finding a lift back to Lljubjana airport but first, breakfast was needed. We went to same the place we had went to the previous mornings. Whilst sat down with our baggage and eating our hot dogs I noticed that the shop we hired the bikes from also did a taxi service so I asked about a lift to the airport. "€25" the same woman said and I agreed to pay the price. She told me that her son would meet round the corner and take us there. We didn't really know what to expect, vehicle wise and were greeted by a bright yellow van that resembled the mystery machine in shape. I was buzzing as it was a pretty cool car to own.

The journey back to London was horrible. We were both depressed and was already planning our trip back (which still needs to be arranged). If and when I am to return, I think a week is just enough to time to explore and do everything. Since I've left, it's been a never ending love story with Lake Bled and also Slovenia!

Posted by TeessideTravels 20:02 Archived in Slovenia Tagged lakes travel europe slovenia bled Comments (0)

Budapest

semi-overcast 10 °C

After a long month away from home working in the Falklands and also missing my girlfriend's birthday down there made me think about a well deserved break. On my daily 10-15 minute chat per day with her, I mentioned about taking her away for her birthday and I recommended Budapest (the thought of me taking her away for her birthday and treating her went down extremely well).

Once I had finished work and before talking to the girlfriend, Lydia, I took it upon myself to book the tickets and give her a little surprise for when I spoke to her. I searched the web for flights to Budapest and low and behold, RyanAir popper up as the cheapest. As I work away anyway when in the UK, we've flown a few times from London Stansted so flying from here wasn't a drama. I booked the tickets no problem, but then I started to panic about the hotel. After searching for an hour or so on the best deal and also one that was going to stand out (it was for her 21st after all) I decided to book the Corinthia Hotel. For those of you who don't know, the Corinthia is a 5* chain that covers a fair few cities throughout Europe and have a well renowned name for themselves. This was perfect. I was that happy and confident with myself about this little plan that instead of phoning her, we Skyped so I could see her reaction.

About 5 minutes in to the Skype conversation, I decided I'd let her know what I've booked. The reception, at first, was a positive one until she remembered about her work. This was a nightmare. I'd spent quite a substantive amount of money on a trip that potentially could not go ahead! At the end of the session, she told me to leave it with her so she could sort things out with her boss. My mind was fried.

I don't know whether any of you know about how phone calls and internet access works through the military. As an individual, I got 100 minutes wifi access or 30 minutes phone call per week. That's it. If you forget to log out on the wifi, that's your 100 minutes gone over night. It's an absolute nightmare. That night I forgot to log out of my wifi and as I mentioned before the whole thing went over night. I woke up in the morning expecting to log on and find that we could finally commit to this trip but to no such joy. There is an option however, to go to the shop and buy another 100 minutes for £10. It's easy money for the wifi provider. They know people are going to want more than 100 minutes a week. However today was the day I was flying out to an isolated island on the north west coast of West Falklands where there wasn't an official landing pad for the helicopter let alone wifi. I was going to be here on this remote island for 3 days. The only plus side was the amount of penguins a short trek away from our camp site. This would surely take my mind off losing all that money.

I won't go in to too much depth about this trip to the island as I'll write another post about it but I've got to say it was easily one of the best experiences of my life.

After the 3 days of camping, rationing food and water and work on top of that, we heard the helicopter coming in and picking us up. I knew that In a couple of hours time I would know the answer. Once landed back at the main camp we were given a couple of hours to recuperate and I went straight to the internet hotspot and checked what the verdict was. "Managed to get it off babe!" Yes, I was over the moon. By this point I was in the last week and a half of my deployment to the Falklands and was seriously looking to getting back on home soil.

Fast forward 2 weeks and I am not home with only a few hours to spare before a late night drive down to Stansted airport to start the journey to a country I'd not heard an awful lot about. Parking up at the airport car park, we headed straight to the Weatherspoon's inside the terminal to have a much needed full English Breakfast and an ice cold pint of Cider. This put the start of the holiday in to a good stead.

One thing I didn't mention to Lydia was that I'd booked a mini limo to transfer us from Budapest airport to the Corinthia and also had a bottle of champagne waiting in our room on arrival! Leaving the arrivals lounge at Budapest to be greeted by a man in a little top hat and suit holding a sign with my name, it's safe to say she didn't have a clue what was going on. She was ecstatic.

The hotel is much more extravagant than what it looks like on pictures. We were greeted by a man who opened our doors, took our baggage and escorted us to the reception. The entrance has a massive stair case leading up to the second floor with a gold finish on the bannister. We looked at each other and couldn't wait to see what the room was like. I booked us a queen suite which, when we got up to it, was looking over in to an open air congress area (but was still within the hotel) and was directly outside the lift to take us to the spa. We unpacked, enjoyed our champaign and got ready to go out.

We didn't really venture very far that night. We were both tired and hungry. We walked out the hotel and headed towards a place called the Oktogon which was a cross roads with several shops and restaurant/fast food places dotted around the place. I didn't really fancy eating anything so we moved on, this time heading towards the river. We must have walked maybe 50 metres before we saw a little opening with a grassed area and restaurants down there. I dragged us down to see what was going on to only be met by PR staff from these places trying to get us in to their places to eat. This is something I didn't really expect especially being to neighbouring capital Bratislava where we didn't even get glanced at let alone spoken to. In fact we were told to get out of one bar because we were English! We settled for a place that advertised traditional Hungarian food but in fact turned out to be an Italian/burger place. I ordered a pint of the local lager and Lydia got her usual; a large glass of Pinot with ice. The food wasn't anything out the ordinary in all was rather disappointing and I often say that you can judge a place by it's burgers. We swiftly moved on.

Wanting to see the river we ventured off in the general direction but quickly came across a baracade which was the main walkway down to the river. Deciding to see it tomorrow I was easily distracted by the infamous Széchenyi bridge and was a bit impatient on seeing this. I was quickly dragged away where we ended up in a bar open to the public inside a hotel what put ours to shame. It was amazing and the bar was second to nine. The Blue Fox was a bar that I'll never forget. Lydia instantly fell in love with the Cucumber Martini's and I went for a pint. After a few hours we called it a night and headed back to the hotel, satisfied but not over impressed.

Up at the crack of dawn, we both agreed to go down to the spa. Exiting the lift, we were approached by a friendly receptionist who directed us down to the spa area. It was amazing. Budapest prides itself on it's natural spas and warm waters and this was no exception. The pool was surrounded by jacuzzis and saunas and steam rooms were dotted around the place. It was like something you see on an overpriced luxury holiday advert to try and entice you in to spending thousands for a 4 day trip.

After a couple of hours I was eager to explore the city more. I had read an article on Budapest's key attractions and "Heroes Square" was something I was keen on seeing. Walking down the main drag towards this famous landmark, the sides were littered with famous Hungarians statues. They were impressive but nothing compared to what was awaiting at the end. Heroes Square reminds me of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. I recommend anyone going to visit this area. Behind it is a park which was filled. It was warm, especially for late Febraury in Central Europe. Within the park was Vajdahunyad Castle and the Zoo. It's a tourists paradise. Culture, architecture and animals. The castle itself was positioned next to a drying ice rink with a Hollywood-like sign reading "BUDAPEST", it looked amazing reflecting off the drying ice.

We spent a lot of time walking around this park, the castle and the Eastern part of the city. We walked back to the hotel to get ready and go out for some food and a few drinks. I was keen on experiencing a chain of bars and pubs called "the Ruin Pubs" which were all individual pubs but in an agreement to be named within this franchise. I'd read and heard some good things about these places so that was priority tonight. A lot of them were within the Old Jewish Quarter, not too far from the hotel, conveniently. I managed to convince Lydia that we should head here first and scope the area out.

On the way we passed Budapest's opera house and some more famous architect that stood out in this former Soviet state. Following a map, we soon reached the Old Jewish Quarter and could see the crowds of people heading to the same place. I was excited. We turned right in to a little square and could instantly hear music and crowds of people socialising in this area. We made for one bar which seemed to be the place that appealed to us both. Ordering a pint and looking at the price, I was smiling. The exchange rate meant that I was paying 80 pence a pint. Bargain. After a few swift ones we were both hungry now and moved on to find something to satisfy our needs. We randomly came across the baracade that blocked us from walking next to the river. I was confused as I didn't realise how close we were to the Jewish Quarter. About 20 metres down from this baracade was a casino. After being in Bled, Slovenia in August the year before and indulging in some gambling there, it didn't sit well that I wanted to go in. I'm not a big gambler at all. I went to Vegas and only gambled with $50 and thought that was too much. I eventually persuaded her to let me go in and try my luck. If you're sat at a table and betting, drinks are free. Because of this, I reckon I lost close to £150 that night. Lydia fuming, it was time to leave.

Directly opposite this casino was the Hard Rock Cafe. She had never been in one before and I knew she'd enjoy it. By this time, my memory was slipping a little as was my feet. I was drunk and she was sober. I was going to be in the dog house in the morning. Being in the military, it's no surprise I'm a bit of a nightmare when intoxicated. We soon left the Hard Rock as it was a bit dead and didn't have that vibe that I've been used to in other Hard Rocks. Noticing another bar and my girlfriend wanting to try and catch up with how drunk I was, we ventured in. From this point I don't really remember a lot of that night and just waking up the next morning.

I can't have been too bad as Lydia woke up in a rather pleasant mood with me. Bonus. We started this morning as the day previous, by visiting the spa. My head was pounding and I needed something to sort it out. Before going in to the sauna, there's a bucket and a shower that you drop freezing cold water on to yourself before squirmishing in to the sauna itself. After 15 minutes or so, I felt right as rain and was wanting to leave the spa and explore the Buda side and see the more famous sights.

During the day, the river is a lot easier to find and kept well away from the baracade. We found the Széchenyi bridge in no time and were welcomed by the massive lions guarding the bridge. We stopped for a few pictures before crossing in to the older part of the city. Walking along the bridge, there was a man busking with a violin and he was extremely talented. I know this might sound stuck up, but I'm not one for giving money away but I would be more than happy to pay to see live in a concert. We moved on to the tram and up to Buda Castle. On the way up, the views over the Pest side of the city were incredible. Seeing the Parliament building and the bridge in it's element were well worth the €1.50 up to the top, plus it saved the half hour walk up.

At the top was Buda Castle and the residence of Hungary's PM. It was like a down scaled version of Buckingham Palace however still worth a visit. The place was packed with tourists and stalls selling local merchandise were sporadically spread amongst the grounds. We explored the castle grounds and saw some amazing statues at every corner of the building. I probably should have read a bit more on the castle as it turned out to be an art gallery which didn't and still doesn't interest me. Nevertheless I was enjoying my time here.

We spent a few hours up here and moved on. I'd read that there was some dungeons/labyrinth nearby. I was expecting something similar to York or London Dungeons but was let down massively. It was more of simple cave system that had random figures behind bars reenacting scenes from something I'd never heard of. Lydia was constantly trying to take photos and show me these 'orbs' that she captured which, no offence to her, just made me want to get out of there quicker. The only plus side to the walk around was the professionally captured pictures of over cave systems around the world.

Eventually making it out after walking around whole thing in about 30 minutes, I saw a sign pointing towards the citadel. This was a key feature that had been highlighted in the article I read. The citadel surrounds an impressive church but unfortunately you had to pay to get in to. We stopped got a few pictures and took in the sights. Not too far from the church was a little cafe that intrigued us and we sat down for a rest, something to eat and drink. We only had a sandwich as by this time it was getting late and wanted to save ourselves for tea.

There was one more feature I wanted to see and dragged my girlfriend towards it. By this point she was tired of walking and wanted to go back to the hotel. I refused and kept on walking. When we got close to it, I realised that there was a big climb to the top and as it was getting late, I compromised. We crossed the bridge to get back to Pest and started walking back. The sun was beginning to set and after 5 minutes we both decided we wanted a quick alcohol beverage and watch how the sun was changing the setting around the city. The bar we went for was a boat made in to a restaurant/bar and was reasonably priced consider something of the same nature in London would have been 5 times the price.

Getting back to the hotel, I didn't really want to waste time so we quickly got ready and headed straight out. We headed back to the Jewish Quarter and see what the Ruin Bars had to offer again. We were getting hungry and came across my favourite type of food; Mexican. I rushed over and begged Lydia that we eat here. She reluctantly agreed. I was over the moon. Going through what can only be described as the plastic sheets that hang down from super markets when you used to go in to the frozen sections, we were both surprised on what was on the other side. There was an outside area for people to relax, smoke and have a drink while inside had an extensive wine list. I knew what would cheer her up; a large glass go Pinot with some ice. I asked the bar man where the Mexican was and he pointed round the corner where there was another bar.

I was a bit off putted by this bar as there was a loud mouth drunk American gobbing off to some local girls on how "awesome" he was. I've got nothing against Americans, I've worked with them on numerous occasions in the UK, USA and Afghanistan but this one was a tit. Avoiding him at all costs, I ordered our food and sat down with a drink. The food was cooked in front of us and smelt amazing. We both gobbled down the food which was amazing and decided to move on as the American was blagging our heads.

We headed back to the bar where we went the day previously but didn't manage to get there. Just up the street there was a place that was advertising live music and we both love a gig so we went for it. We walked in and it was busy, we headed tot he far end of the bar to try and get served where my girlfriend noticed the entranced to the gig. I was a but confused, I thought we were at the gig? I approached the man selling the tickets and asked him how much. €3 he replied. I handed over the money and headed down stairs to the gig area. It was nowhere near as busy as what upstairs was and it had it's own bar. I got us both a can of Red Stripe and waited for the gig to start. The first band were ok it the second were amazing. The front girl was a skinny pale ginger girl who reminded me of Florence however her voice was miles above Florence's. I couldn't believe it. €3 for this?! The gig had finished and by this point, Lydia was hammered. Probably to the standard as I was the night before. I was in for it tonight. We went to a few more bars within the area and after a lengthy conversation, I convinced her that it was time to go home.

I knew she was going to be rough in the morning, so as soon as she woke up I suggested we head down to the spa to recuperate and attack the hangover. She agreed and this was to be the last visit to the spa. Looking back, I wish we experienced one of the natural spas that rife throughout the city but I suppose there's always next time.

We agreed today was going to be a day of relaxing and even a bit of shopping. We asked where the main shopping area was and was given directions. I couldn't believe it. When we got there I recognised exactly where we were, next to the Hard Rock Cafe. This marked the beginning of what I'll refer to as the high street. However this wasn't like any normal high street you find in the UK. Again it was littered with PR's from shops trying their best to get customers. I was baffled. We were approached by one who wanted us to test out a salt based cleaner for our skin that apparently came from the Dead Sea. We gave it ago and I've got to say, I loved it. The salt within the product cleared all the pours and got all the fake tan off my girlfriends hands. She started talking fast in a strong Anglo-Hungarian accent which either of us couldn't understand. I eventually heard something I did recognise, "Yours for only €70". Sack that.

We quickly declined and moved on where we approached by another PR, this time a skinny looking bloke with a t-shirt advertising Budapest's Ice Bar. He started chatting to us and as she's not been in one before, we bought some tickets. The tickets included entry, rental of the jacket and 2 free drinks each. Didn't seem a bad deal for €15 each. We followed the bloke to a little office and thought we were going to go straight in to it. After telling Lydia about the one I visited in Stockholm, she was eager to experience it. The bloke then made it clear to us that this isn't the bar. I bought the tickets and he said they had to be used today. Upon leaving, I felt a bit scammed and wasn't sure whether to believe him but I went anyway.

Walking down this high street we began passing more and more strip clubs and bars. This was clearly the area where the stag do's came to. We kept on walking and eventually passed a restaurant that I'd read in this article again; the Buddha Bar. We had a little discussion outside and decided to go in and make reservations for later that night. Time seemed to be moving fast as it was getting late already and after booking a table, I pointed out that we only had 2 hours to get back, get ready and get back to the restaurant. The shopping day had been called short and I was not complaining.

Whilst getting ready and I was really looking forward to eating at this place. I'm not a massive fan of Asian food but really wanted to give this ago. We knew that this was going to be the most expensive place we visited during our stay but it was well worth it. I ordered the ribs and I reckon there was enough in one portion to feed 4. They were cooked to perfection and the whole ambience of the place, with the 15 foot Buddha looking over you whilst you ate added real authenticity. The meal was gorgeous and we were both stuffed. I asked get what she wanted to do next and she suggested to head back to the Blue Fox. I agreed as it was a very nice bar and wanted to enjoy our last night. But first of all we had to check out the Ice Bar which we had tickets for. It was only a few doors down from the Buddha bar and we were in there within no time. It was tiny and all the hype I built up relating to the one in Stockholm, the novelty of being in there soon wore off. After the two drinks we moved on and as I didn't really know where the bar was so we got a local bike cabby to take us there. It turned out it was literally a 200 metre walk along the adjacent street and got charged €10 for it. I wasn't best pleased to say the least but decided to laugh it off.

It was the same bar man who served us our first night and he remembered us. There was another girl working with him as well but she had her hands filled with a party of middle aged (what I presume judging by their accents) over weight Russians. They obviously had a bit of money as they were flashing it about and took liberties to feel the poor bar maid up. Not long after, the "Russians" decided to leave which everyone in the bar was grateful for. We didn't notice but by this point it was about half 1 in the morning and we had to be out the room by 11. We both agreed to head back to the hotel and grab a bottle of wine from the hotel bar.

We got the bottle of wine and added it to the room bill (something I will later regret). We drank it in the bar as we weren't quite ready to hit the hay. Within about half an hour, the first bottle was gone. I had no idea how we drank it so fast but decided to get another bottle on the room. We had a glass or two each before heading up to the room. I couldn't drink anymore by this point as I wasn't feeling too good. I set my alarm and drifted off. When I woke up, I was greeted to an absolute minster of a headache and an even worse dry mouth. It's safe to say this was a bad hangover.

We packed our bags as the trip was coming to an undeniable end. I asked for the room bilk to check it over and there was a few this on there that we hadn't even ordered. For instance, breakfast. We didn't eat once at the hotel so I made them aware of this straight away which they were happy to rectify. The one thing that did stand out more than anything was the value of the two bottles of wine: €100. I paid for it obviously but couldn't believe my girlfriend persuaded me in to buying another €50 bottle!

Sad to see the back of the hotel, we headed for subway situated at the Oktogon trying to sort these hangovers out. Usually when I'm hungover, I can't eat for at least a few hours. This wasn't any different today. I was in a bad way but Lydia was fine. I literally took one bite out of my sandwich and threw it out. We hailed a taxi down and headed back to the airport.

Although we hadn't done and seen everything we wanted, I knew it was a present I could be proud of. We spent some quality time together and saw some amazing sites. It's a cheap enough place, considering it's one of the EU's largest cities, and well worth a visit.

Posted by TeessideTravels 13:11 Archived in Hungary Tagged bridges budapest travel europe Comments (0)

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