Our trip to Budapest included a few memorable excursions out of the city and into the countryside.
The most bizarre of these was taking the Children’s Railway (Gyermekvasút) to the Elizabeth Lookout (Erzsébet-kilátó) at János-hegy – the highest hill in Budapest. This was probably the craziest thing I saw in Hungary, and definitely the closest I have come to being in a Wes Anderson movie. The name says it all – this is an actual railway run by 10-14 year old children (admittedly with some adult supervision).
It was built in 1947… I have no idea why – blame Communism? Anyway, this does not seem like a sensible or necessary venture but has persisted for a very long time. Presumably only the most responsible, do-gooder nerd children are allowed to be in charge of a railway – Ant said I definitely would have been one of the child-workers were I born in Hungary, which I have to admit is probably true.
Sadly, we had to leave the weird world of the Children’s Railway behind, but the view over Budapest from the lookout was some compensation. We also got to add yet another kind of transport to our journey in the form of a chairlift back down the hill. One thing you can’t accuse Budapest of is skimping on the variety and frequency of public transport options. This chairlift got interesting towards the bottom where is just started cutting right through people’s front yards in a very intrusive way. I assume curtain sales peaked immediately after its construction.
We also hopped on a train out to Szentendre, which was a quaint town that mainly delivered us the best/most Asterix-esque feast of the trip – goose thighs and wild boar – and a Puli sighting. FYI – Hungary is home to so many different dog breeds like Kuvasz, Komondors, Pulis and Vizslas, and did not disappoint us in terms of fancy dog sightings.
From Szentendre we headed to Skanzen, a Hungarian folk village. What can I say – we had a very varied agenda during our trip…
Once we’d had enough of the traditional Hungarian experience, we took a bus to Visegrád, using the last hour before dark to get up to the ruined castle. In what was a cruel blow for Ant and Ev, the bus schedule prevented us from stopping at the Renaissance Restaurant after our hike, so we couldn’t partake in our second round of goose thighs for the day. Ant had to console himself by appropriating one of the restaurant’s complimentary crowns off an American tourist at the bus stop. It was the one low point in an otherwise excellent day.