Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Days in Budapest - Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our Budapest adventure. I had to do more than one post because I like to share a lot of pictures. This is your warning ---> there are a lot of pictures.

If you haven't already, check out 5 Days in Budapest - Part 1 first.

Here's a look at how we spent days 3-6 in Budapest (I've added links where I think they will be helpful to others who may be looking to visit Budapest. Some of them are affiliate links):

Day 3 - We started the day with a run along the Danube and across a couple of bridges (I wrote a post about running in Budapest here). Afterwards, we hopped on the tram with youngestC and went to visit her neck of the woods: Corvinus University. She showed us where she lives and then took us to a popular spot nearby for our first taste of Hungary goulash.

Day 4 - While the kids are away, the adults will play, haha. mrC and I purchased some Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) tickets and our first use was the boat tour that cruised right past our hotel. We jumped off at Margaret Island and spent an hour exploring until the next boat arrived. There was much to see and on a better weather day, we could have spent a lot more time there. We did find several fun things: the perfect spot for tourists to take photos, a very nice couple let us sit in their rental cart, lots of interesting restaurants, and the musical fountain. Here's a list of fun things to do that is worth a look.

TIP: Always carry change with you for the toilets. This is something as Americans (and expats in Hong Kong) that we were not used to. Even inside a shop you will probably have to pay for use.

We spent the afternoon exploring Castle Hill when youngestC finished her classes. We rode the HOHO bus (using our passes) almost to the top and then took a lift (had to pay) to the main grounds (if it sounds confusing, it was a little - but we got there ok). The place is huge and we did a lot of walking ---> loved the cobblestone but it's hard your feet after awhile. Doing our own self guided tour, here are the main parts that we saw: Royal Palace, Eugene of Savoy monument and Matthias Fountain, Sandor Palace (President lives here now), Matthias Church (we toured inside too), and the Fisherman's Bastion.

We took the funicular down from Castle Hill (we did not have great views - I recommend getting in the "bottom" car). Instead of waiting for the next HOHO bus, we walked across the Chain Bridge back to our favorite bistro for some dinner on the Danube. It was chilly, but they offer fleece blankets for people sitting outside. After dinner we used our HOHO passes for the night boat tour. This is a must-do if you are in Budapest. The city at night is stunning.

Day 5 - After a very busy day 4, our final day in Budapest was a bit of a rainout. mrC and I trekked through the rain to visit the beautiful St. Stephens Basilica. The ferris wheel was closed, but the views would have been amazing. We toured the inside of the basilica and even braved the pouring rain to visit the cupola. (side note: my Athleta rain coat was a lifesaver! I've had it for a few years, but here is a similar one.)

We took our workouts to the Marriott fitness center and were dully impressed with the facilities. Another good way to avoid the rain is to shop, so we visited Váci Street for some souvenirs and food.

Day 6 - Our final day was really just a morning. We took advantage of the good weather and another chance to run together. We took the tram to the Margaret Island bridge and ran to the island from there. On our run we got to see a little more of the island including a small zoo that seemed to feature deer and the ruins of a convent.

TIP: You probably know to travel with a converter, but this one is by far the best I have used. youngestC got hers at Target, but I ordered mine from Amazon.

What we missed (aka saving for next time? I like to be optimistic):

Thermal Baths - I was so sad not to get to do this since it is literally a must-do when visiting Budapest. The Rudas and Szechenyi thermal baths right in city center came highly recommended.

Ruin Bar - A popular way to have a drink is to visit a bar that is set up in the ruins of a parking garage, factory or any dilated building for that matter. We had hoped to have at least one drink at Szimpla Kert, known as the original romkocsma (ruin bar), but the weather again limited our plans.

We had an amazing time with youngestC in Budapest.

If you've been to Budapest - what was your favorite part? 
Do you like to run in cities that you are visiting?
How do you feel about heights?

Monday, October 2, 2017

5 Days in Budapest - Part 1

We enjoyed an extra-long layover on our way back to Hong Kong. After spending two weeks in the US for mrC's recurrent training and some time with family and friends in Cincinnati, we stopped to see youngestC, who is doing a study abroad at Corvinus University in Budapest.

Budapest was not on my bucket list of places to visit (it should have), but I am always eager to experience new places. It was the trip of a lifetime to be able to spend time with youngestC when she wasn't in class and explore this safe, historic, beautiful and friendly city at the same time.

Here's a look at how we spent days 1 & 2 in Budapest (I've added links where I think they will be helpful to others who may be looking to visit Budapest. Some of them are affiliate links):

Day 1 - We arrived around 10 in the morning and after quickly clearing immigration arranged our transport to the hotel using an airport shuttle service. It was easy and efficient, plus we pre-arranged our return trip all for under $40USD. We were super early for check-in, so we dropped our bags and took a walk to get our first views of the city.

We booked our hotel because of its location in the city center and proximity to youngestC.  Located right on the Danube River, from the hotel we could walk to the University, numerous historical and tourist landmarks and access public transportation if necessary.

Even though I was super tired (it's hard changing time zones even when you can sleep part of the way), I was immediately struck by how beautiful everything was. The gray skies and slight drizzle couldn't dampen my excitement as we explored a few blocks north of the hotel.

We had plenty of time to kill since youngestC was in Brussels and we wouldn't meet up with her until the next day. On that first afternoon we were able to see some famous landmarks like the Chain Bridge, the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial and the Hungarian Parliament Buildings.

We had dinner at a wine bistro that we spotted on our walk and couldn't have been happier with our choice. Great food and excellent service. We knew right away that we would be back to visit them. Back in our hotel room, we enjoyed our first night of spectacular views.

Day 2 - We woke to a beautiful day and after some breakfast at the hotel we headed out to explore until we met up with youngestC. In the sunlight, the city was even more beautiful and we could not stop taking pictures while we walked. I loved the countess outdoor dining options lining the streets. (PS - I highly recommend these Keds for sightseeing. I picked them up at an outlet mall in Ohio and they were a lifesaver!)

We visited the historic Cave Church which is right across the Liberty Bridge near campus, our meet-up spot. The grotto church was small but amazing to see. Before crossing the bridge back to the Pest Side, we sat on the bank of the Danube and marveled at how lucky we were to be in Budapest and about to see youngestC for the first time since July.

At a nice restaurant with outdoor seating and views of the Liberty Bridge, we spent as much time as we could catching up until she had to leave for her afternoon classes. Watching her jump on the trolley, it hit us that she is not our "little bug" anymore!

We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the neighborhood and taking in all that we could before walking back toward our hotel. We briefly visited the Central Market, learned about Hungarian attire, bought some (expensive) stamps at the post office and strolled Váci Street - the popular shopping and dining street.

We ended the afternoon with a great hike up Gellèrt Hill to see the best panoramic views of the city. At the top there are historical landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Citadella. If you walk around the Citadella, you'll find stalls selling souvenirs and links to the Castle Hill area.

youngestC came to stay with us at the hotel and we went for dinner on Váci Street before calling it a night.

Stay tuned. More to come in 5 Days in Budapest - Part 2!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wrapping Up September with a Running Survey

I don't always remember to do a monthly mileage post, but when I run more miles than usual it helps.

This month I did more runs over two miles. Since joining the Discovery Run group, I've started working on being able to run a 5K with as few walk breaks as my knee can handle. I might be running my first fun 5K soon ;)

Here's a fun little survey to use to look back on your month. Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments below or copy and paste in your own blog post (just be sure to tell me about it so I can read all your answers!).

How many times did you run? 7 runs

What was your total mileage? 19.12 miles

How many races did you run? zero - working on that ;)

What time of day did you run most often (morning, runch, evening)? morning

How many different running routes did you do? a variation of 4 routes

Did you run mostly solo or with others? mostly with at least one other person

How many pairs of running shoes did you use? 2 - Mizuno Wave Sky and Wave Horizon

If you bought new running gear, what was your favorite purchase? Athleta Ready Set Go shorts 

Did you run in different states or countries this month? Hong Kong, Ohio, Budapest

What type of animals did you see on your runs this month? a lot of dogs and some deer

What was the best part of your favorite run (or worst part of your least favorite run)? My favorite run was in Budapest (it was cool and flat) and the best part was running with mrC and youngestC!

What type of cross training did you do this month? yoga, hiking, SUP and lots of walking

The last week of September has been a busy one - challenging my ability to get workouts in.

Sunday - We helped a friend celebrate her birthday on a junk boat ---> did you see my hula hoop skills on Instagram?

Monday - I had a Hong Kong Hosts meeting and ran errands in Central. Night run with Discovery Run group.

Tuesday - I had a laser hair removal appointment ---> sprinted to catch the ferry (workout for the day)

Wednesday - Got my SUP board (price reduced on Amazon) back in the water

Thursday - Went to the American Women's Association Welcome Back Breakfast at the (yep) American Club

Friday - Exercises in the pool and some relaxing too

Saturday - REST (almost ran but it was stormy)

Sunday - went for a morning walk

Looking ahead: October is the month I get back on my carb cycling wagon and really focus on strength. There's a new Faster Way to Fat Loss group starting on October 16th. If you have been thinking about joining and are looking for a way to reboot your body (like I needed), take a look at my results. I have been carb cycling for over a year now and it is the easiest way to maintain my weight.

How was your week? month?
What are you looking forward to in October?

Linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!