Friday, May 7, 2010

Budapest, Hungary: I have the greatest hotel room in the whole world

I am now in Budapest and I love my hotel room.

I decided to "splurge" for the end of this trip. Not only am I staying in a fancy-fancy hotel on he Buda side of the Danube, which is really rather expensive for someone like me who only recently upgraded to La Quinta from Motel 6. I was talked into upgrading (i.e., paying more moolah) for a Danube view room. From the hotel's website, it looked like the Danube view rooms only had a rail, a faux balcony. All the Danube view rooms except those on the third floor and guess who's staying in Room 312? Last balcony up the river? Why, that would of course be me.

(FOOTNOTE: Buda is the old, hilly, historic side of the Danube. Pest is the (relatively) modern, flat east side of the Danube. Buda and Pest merged to form Budapest.)

I got into Budapest's Keleti Station at about 10:40PM or so. It's dark. I'm ion what the guidebooks say is not that great a part of town (but not dangerous). I had no local currency. And the mass transit system shuts down at 11:00PM. (You've heard of the City of Never Sleeps. That ain't Budapest. Budapest sleeps all right. Goes to bed at 11 on the dot.)

The guidebooks also warn you about Budapest cab drivers. They're reputed to be rip-off artists of the first magnitude in a city that relatively free of such characters. Well, I found a cabbie who would take euro. Yeah, he overcharged me (25 euro for a trip that took about 10 minutes). But I got to where I needed to be without having to first change money or lug my suitcase that right now feels heavier than me (and, no, I did not succeed with my plan to lose 50 before 50 -- so me weighs a lot still).

I checked in and got to my room and I saw this:

That's the view from my balcony. It looked even better in daylight:

On the other side of the Blue Danube is Budapest's famous Parliament Building. This is the most photographed building in all of Hungary. Basically, for a 10 euro upgrade, I got the signature view of all of Budapest.

And even if I had cheapened out and opted for a "castle view" room -- the cost-effective, always-popular "dumpster view" was apparently unavailable on Expedia when I booked -- hey, don't laugh -- my room in Zagreb had a view of a concrete wall, only about two feet beyond my open window -- but even if I had opted for the castle view, it would've been nice:

That's the castle above the red roof lines. I'm sure the castle view gets better on the higher floors.

Lets just say Budapest has made an incredible first impression on me.

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