Ultimate Europe Trip 2016 Day 17: Tuk Tuk, Looks Like Budapest

I'm not exaggerating when I say we've really loved every stop on the Ultimate Europe Trip thus far, but if I had to pick an early favorite, I'd go with Vienna. After four amazing nights here in Vienna our time has sadly come to an end and as we close this chapter we begin another. We woke up a little before 7AM and went down to breakfast at the very popular Brasserie & Bakery

Jenn went with scrambled eggs and toast and I had their eggs benedict. It was another fantastic meal at the hotels restaurant, something you really can't say often. Jenn loved her eggs and the bread here is amazing. My egg's benedict came with a really great hollandaise sauce and I ate the entire thing up. From there we went back to our room to finish the last remnants of packing and grabbed a taxi to the train station.

We only had about twenty minutes between the time we arrived at the train station and when we departed to Budapest. We once again had Business Class seats and they got even nicer. We had our own little section with three seats but no one joined us for the entire two and half hour journey. It was private, relaxing, and by far the best train ride we've had the entire trip. I read for most of the train ride and Jenn spent most of her time listening to music. 

When we researched Budapest one of the first things we read was that the taxi's were unmetered (similar to Prague). Therefore it can be hard to get a reliable taxi that won't rip you off. With that in mind we contacted our hotel yesterday and had them have a driver come pick us up. We had a great older gentleman with a sign waiting when we got off the train and he took us to the stunning Iberostar Grand Hotel Budapest.

Check-in went extremely smooth and we were given a gorgeous upgraded room on the 5th floor overlooking the parliament building. Not only is the room one of the nicest we've had all trip but its easily the best view we've had our entire trip. The square the we overlook is something else and it only makes me wish we had more time here in Budapest. After we checked in, recorded a room tour, we were back out on the streets. 

We really had no time to waste with only two nights in Budapest so we got started right away. We went out in search of a quick bite after a big breakfast and came across a place called Hot Dog. Yes, that's it, Hot Dog, Cold Beer. Clever right? And even more clever all they served was hot dogs, beer, and drinks. Jenn got a corn dog and I had what they called a Mexican hot dog with peppers, beans, and all sorts of goodies. In the complete reversal of our Italian dinner last night, Jenn loathed her corn dog and I loved my Mexican hot dog. I'll admit it was a rather odd choice for our first meal in Budapest but to my defense we were on a major time crunch.

From there we went around the corner to a nearby Starbucks and bought our Budapest mug and then went back to our hotel. Only ten minutes later we were back at our hotel and went on our one and only tour in Budapest, a TukTuk tour. This was not part of our original plan for Budapest but after enjoying so many of the tours we've done on this trip we decided to try and find something interesting/unique for Budapest. We landed on a very highly reviewed TukTuk tour and it did not disappoint.

Our tour guide, Daniel, picked us up in front of our hotel and we were off. Our hotel is on the Pest side of the city (there is a Buda side as well) and so our tour started on our side. Our TukTuk weaved in and out of traffic and as we went we would slow down at locations and talk about them, and at a few stops we got out and explored. Our first stop on the tour after about a fifteen minute drive was Heroes Square. It's a pretty remarkable square made even more interesting by all of the different festivals that were occurring at the same time in the square. We spent ten minutes exploring and taking pictures before getting back in the TukTuk and going on our way.

We spent the next half hour flying through the Pest side of Budapest seeing the beautiful Dohány Street Synagogue (also known as The Great Synagogue) which is the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. 

From there we crossed over to the Buda side of Budapest and made our way up the massive Gellért hill to the Citadella. The views from this vantage point of all of Budapest were stunning not to mention the Citadella itself. I cannot imagine walking up this hill to see this, so having the TukTuk was quite handy. We spent another ten or fifteen minutes up here before continuing on our journey.

From there we made our way back down the Gellért hill and down to the side of the Danube river. There we stopped across from the massive and gorgeous Parliament building. It's one of the most stunning buildings in Budapest, and one that we're lucky enough to see from our hotel room. From there we made our last stop on the TukTuk and that was to the Buda Castle. Our tour guide drove us through the entire small secluded village that surrounds the Buda Castle and then dropped us off and finished our tour right in front of the stunning almost thousand year old castle.

The tour itself was incredibly fun and a great way to see Budapest in the short amount of time we had. Our tour guide was easy going and fun and made the entire experience just really enjoyable. I know both Jenn and I are glad we made the last minute decision to do the TukTuk.

After we were dropped off on the TukTuk we walked around the stunning castle for a few minutes before making the thirty minute walk from the Buda side to the Pest side to our hotel. Jenn having only been in Budapest for five hours literally navigated us back to our hotel without ever once glancing at a map. If I had been directing I'm pretty sure this post would have never been written. We made it back to our hotel at around 6PM and got ready for our last booked excursion in Budapest, a dinner cruise on the Danube. 

We left our hotel at 7PM and got to our dinner cruise at 7:30PM for a 7:45PM departure. We got a table for two right on the railing with some of the best views on the boat. When booking the tickets you have the option of ordering À la carte or doing a four-course dinner. If you know us you know we went the latter route which might explain the nice table we got. The cruise itself had maybe fifty guests onboard and every single table was taken. During the entire two and half hour cruise there was a live band playing while you had the opportunity to take in the beauty of Budapest at night.

For dinner we started off with a welcome glass of champagne and then ordered a bottle of red wine. As I'm writing this post I'm still trying to shake off the effects of polishing off said bottle of red wine, but that's a different issue entirely. For our appetizer I started with a shrimp in garlic sauce dish while Jenn had the scallops. We both really enjoyed our appetizers albeit their small portion sizes leaving something to be desired. For our second course we both went with a soup, the beef consume which was actually really nice especially as the night started to cool off.

For our main course Jenn went with the duck with roasted potatoes. It wasn't great and it wasn't bad it just lacked any real distinctive flavors. It's not the best duck we've ever had but it was nice enough that Jenn still managed to polish it off. I went with the filet which too came with roasted potatoes and it too fell in a very similar boat (get it). They just didn't do much with the filet. It was cooked perfectly, but the sauce it was paired with just didn't do much to elevate the dish. 

The best course was by far the dessert. Jenn went with the apple panna cotta and I went with a chocolate cake with a raspberry sauce. They both were excellent, really nice and light but with great flavor. It was a really nice end to a nice four course meal.

The dinner cruise was far less about the food, then it was the experience. The food was fine, but it wasn't anything I'd rush back out to tomorrow and have again. What was special about tonight was how amazing cruising the Danube really was. We made a couple of laps during the two and half hour cruise with the Buda Castle, Parliament Building and the Chain bridge as our backdrop; all while we got to enjoy a nice bottle of red wine. It was probably the most relaxing two and half hours of the trip thus far and are two and half hours I will remember fondly. 

We made our way back to our hotel (once again Jenn without directions) and called it a night a little before midnight. I had no idea what to expect when we decided to come to Budapest, but I have to say a day in and it's an amazing place and one I cannot wait to continue exploring tomorrow.