1/29/2009

Time for Another Virtual Vacation

January seems to be the time of year when I really start daydreaming about a trip. And not just any old trip - but a big trip to someplace fantastic and new. (Though honestly, I have those daydreams in just about every month...January just tends to up the frequency.) I can generally stave off my wanderlust with my weekly TravelZoo newsletter. This week, however, it's not going away and thus, I believe it's time for another virtual vacation. This time, our little trip will be inspired by an eye catching deal in the most recent TravelZoo email - a five night plus air deal to Budapest.

If we're partaking of this deal, we'll be staying at the Corinthia Hotel for all five nights, so I'll try to keep us to things that are within reasonable driving distance (though really, all bets are off - on our first trip to Ireland I had us scheduled for things all within a reasonable driving distance per the map and I had no idea that the difference in roads in Ireland vs. the US cut our driving distance per day by about 2/3.)

For the first day, I think it makes sense to see the city of Budapest itself. We'll follow the suggestions of this virtual tour (with photos) and take public transpo. Let's begin with Castle Hill, we'll stopping by one of the famous Turkish baths on the way, and ending up in the Castle District. We'll make our way to the center of the district and see the Matthias Church. Then we'll continue on to the Fisherman's Bastion - a UNESCO World Heritage site. Finally, we'll make our way to Buda Castle - not only a palace, but it also houses the Hungarian National Gallery. Somewhere in here, we'll need to make time to take the Funicular - because honestly, when else do you have a chance at something like that? Perhaps while here, we'll take some of the walks around the area suggested by the tourism office. Then perhaps we'll just hop on the number 2 tram and do some sightseeing that way.

Relistically, that's a full first day (epecially if you factor in jet lag and so forth) - so we'll spend at least half of our second day walking the cultural avenue, starting with the Opera House. They say the Hungarian Opera House - which looks quite lovely - is considered a masterpiece of Hungarian architecture. It also really reminds me of what I always visualize when I see Phantom - so that can't be bad, right? I'm unclear if you can tour it - but the outside looks promising enough even if you can't. Everything I can find online suggests that if you have time to see only one building in Budapest that the opera house be that one. You can continue down the cultural avenue and pass several museums (which you may or may not decide to visit - the postal museum sounds like it might be fun, honestly. We saw several museums in Dublin that were really probably more for the locals than the tourists, but we really enjoyed them.) And we'll end up in Heroes Square. Then, we ought to carve out some time to see the Parliment building as well.

For the third day, we'll venture out from Budapest to the Old Village of Holloko. This looks like an all-day experience (between driving there and seeing what there is to see then driving back) but it should be quite pleasant as well.

The fourth day will be a trip to Pannonhalma and the Benedectine Abbey and various castles and towns that surround the area. Perhaps we can also squeeze the day into a particularly long one and go see the catacombs of Pecs as well while we're in this region.

The fifth and what there is of the sixth days will be spent closer to Budapest itself - as it seems there are some close by drives that take you to fun locales and interesting sites - but it's actually a bit tough to find information on the web that isn't wikipedia or the national tourism site. I might have to flip through a travel book the next time I'm in the book store to see what they recommend for a trip to Hungary.

Still - it was a fun little virtual jaunt and a nice way to fill up my nap time. Now I hear the sweet stirrings of my fussy little teether, so off I go.

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