Sunday, 12 April 2009

Eastertime in Hungary

Who says traveling with small kids is no fun? We're on a two-week Easter-break in Hungary and Tristan is enjoying every moment of it. First we stayed four nights in Budapest, at the Central Basilika Hotel (which is hereby warmly recommended to families with children). Central it was, and also extremely clean, comfortable and very children-friendly. But perhaps the greatest feature was its breakfast selection, with a good mix of the usual international fare and traditional Hungarian dishes (including cakes with poppy seeds) which I personally sampled extensively every morning. The hotel is situated in Szent István Square, right next to the Basilica, the largest church in the city.
From the hotel, most of the sights were in easy walking distance, including the great Budapest Zoo, where we spent most of our first full day. It is much greener than the average European zoo, very much like a first-class botanical gardens, and the architecture of same of the buildings is also rather bspectacular. For the first time Tristan showed sustained interest for animals, especially the pet goats. These, on the other hand, were mostly interested in eating as much of my shoes as possible.
These also happen to be the days when Tristan has really taken to being at the playground. We found a great one in Szabadság tér (Freedom Square), right in front of the headquarters of the Hungarian State Television. It has almost every toy one can wish for, and in contrast to most playgrounds in Aalborg, also small kids are catered for. Tristans culinary interest in the sand and gravel was matched only by my interest in the poppy seed cakes but, when finally full, he also spent time on the large wooden train set and on the swing.
Apart from animals and playgrounds, the thing that brings Tristan the greatest satisfaction these days is stairs - the more and longer the better. He can spend unlimited lengths of time walking up and down them, like here in front of "our" church.

The rest of the time we mostly spent hanging out in one of the many parks, or on Margit sziget (Margaret Island), the green heart of the city. The only real cultural activity was a trip to the National Museum to see the excellent Press Photo Hungary exhibition (also highly recommended). As for eating out, Budapest offers a great selection of good and moderately priced restaurants. We mostly went for the Indian theme, first in the very cosy family-run Kashmir, then in the somewhat peculiar (= esotheric), but equally excellent Govinda with its all vegetarian menu.

But what has really made it very special so far is the weather. Temperatures in the mid-20s (and that is not Fahrenheit), almost uninterrupted sunshine and hardly any wind. I don't remember it ever being so hot so early in the year in Hungary. In fact the sun is so strong that one really needs sunglasses - either one's own or, even better, a borrowed pair.

After a somewhat exhausting and stuffy train ride, we are now in Nyíregyháza, at my mum's place, getting ready to celebrate her 60th birthday tomorrow. In spite of not having seen each other since October, Tristan and her hit it off right away, which gives Ane and I a bit of a well-deserved rest.