TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Welcome back to another day of exploring and train travel. We started the day by leaving the heavy bags in the AirBnb and going for a walk. Unbeknownst to me, this route took us across a big bridge over the Danube. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me until I saw the views back to the castle which is high up on its hill. We reached the other side of the bridge, a place of relative safety, or so I thought. Instead we were now walking along the river which as I may previously have mentioned is a very big river. All this river walking was too much for me and I had to escape to a place I knew to be safe which caused Jack to lose me. I was in a tree, of course. I soon felt sufficiently recovered to continue our walk and inspect a memorial relating to the Armenian genocide in 1915 where the Ottoman government killed 1.5 million Armenians. In 2004 the Slovak government became the 16th country to recognise this massacre as genocide.
I was promised lots of history along the Danube so I must try not to complain too much about the water. We walked some more and soon reached the opposite side of the river to where we had stopped yesterday evening.
I was relieved to discover we had soon reached the next bridge along, on which we met a Slovak butterfly and crossed back to the Danube’s north side where we found more history. This time it was in the form of a plaque, saying something about the 28th October 1918, which was when the Czech and Slovak people joined together to become Czechoslovakia. How lovely. Shame they split up again in 1993.
We continued our walk back through the Old Town streets then it was time for souvenir shopping, where I found a basket of kittens almost as soft as me, all of whom I wanted to adopt and raise as my own and teach my charming ways. This raised parental feelings in me I didn’t know I possessed! Charlie also took me through the same misting device my humans had walked through yesterday which I wasn’t happy about, even if I didn’t get wet.
We were soon back to the AirBnb to collect our big bags and check out. After another Lift vs Stairs race, there’s a slight chance the lift broke, stopping half way between the second and third floors. Again, I’m glad I didn’t get in it!
We were now on our way back to the train station, but we took a nice break in the Grassalkovich Presidential Palace Gardens. This rest was needed as according to an electronic matrix sign in the middle of the road it was 32˚C. Hot, hot, hot!
On leaving the park, we found a lovely plaque which told us on 21st August 1878 (which was a Sunday), these gardens became the first place in the country to have electric lights – how lovely for it – and good news for the assorted houses, factories, parks and streets which soon received this greatest of modern inventions.
We arrived in the station in plenty of time, only to discover the train was 20 minutes late due to maintenance work on the tracks (our train from Prague yesterday was delayed for the same reason and as this train was also arriving from Prague, this led me to believe they were following the same route). Anyway, we were eventually boarded and on our way to Budapest. During the journey the train became 30 minutes late which was unfortunate for the humans but allowed me more napping time. We all very much enjoyed Bratislava, despite my reservations about the Danube and we were all surprised how empty the country’s capital seemed. But then we searched Slovakia’s population on the internet and discovered the country had a surprisingly low population, just 5.4 million people compared to about 70 million in the UK, a country 5 times larger but containing 13 times as many people.
As we continued through Slovakia, just before Charlie and I fell into a comfortable doze, our train stopped, not at a platform, and a large number of people got off our train, walked across the tracks (which did appear to have some kind of walkway at least) and climbed on board another train. This train had in fact been on the platform across from ours when we were waiting at Bratislava. Perhaps the delays meant those travelling from Prague had missed their connection? Whatever the reason, this seemed a rather dangerous business to me.
Charlie and I then proceeded to take a nap and when we awoke, we spotted a red, white and green horizontally striped flag – we were in Hungary! Sure enough, Jack’s phone soon confirmed this, welcoming us to the country. More proof we were in Hungary? We were hungry! A great pun if I do say so myself. We cracked open a box of Ritz crackers and soon our hunger was sated.
Our train finally made it to the station, nearly 45 minutes late. One more questionably safe crossing of passengers between trains occurred, but this time we gained some more people. Soon, we disembarked at Budapest Nyagati. We set off for the AirBnb, just 15 minutes’ walk away where we were shown to our lovely room which contained a fantastic map of Budapest (annotated by our host) and a TV with a box attached (when was the last time you saw one of those?). Charlie also discovered that the toaster is very long- you could toast a baguette in there! But only if your baguette is less than about 6 inches long and as thin as a normal piece of bread. Ok, maybe it’s just for toasting extra tall bread.
We were soon on our way in search of dinner. We had discovered (another) ice cream place on Happy Cow, Hideg Nyalat, which was in the Vegan Garden in the Jewish Quarter. Here Charlie and Jack sampled a few flavours before deciding on raspberry cheesecake and cookies and cream for Charlie and brownie and strawberry for Jack. Although we were meant to be cooking dinner back at the AirBnb, we were in a Vegan Garden, how could we not enjoy dinner here? Both humans chose a seitan burger with cheese, lettuce, onion, cucumber, tomato and orange sauce with wedges and tomato chutney from Las Vegan’s. For those of you who know your Spanish, I didn’t put the apostrophe in the wrong place, that is their name. In fact, the Spanish language doesn’t even use apostrophes in that way. Despite the appalling grammar error, the burgers were absolutely delicious and filling, for once my humans actually waited before going up for dessert from Las Vegan’s’ Vegan Street. Charlie had a caramel brownie torte and Jack had a cinnamon cake. Both were amazing and the humans were now truly stuffed.
They’d better do some walking then. We continued across the Jewish Quarter to the nearby synagogue. The largest synagogue, in fact, in all of Europe. It had been built in memory of the Hungarian Jews who were killed during WWI and the Holocaust of WWII. Although I was expecting it to be big, I wasn’t expecting it to be this big! It was huge! From here, we walked passed some amazing buildings to reach the Chain Bridge. My humans had explicitly promised we would not be visiting anymore rivers today. What I didn’t know was that this was the very same Danube we had visited this morning, so while it may not have been another river, it was more time near water which I didn’t approve of.
Anyway, we crossed the Chain Bridge, which was well lit with lights and the entrances adorned with giant stone lions. My humans wanted to take a lot of pictures, including the lit up castle and parliament building which meant crossing the bridge took a lot longer than it should have done. Finally we reached the other side, turned around and came back. This was so we could take pictures of the parliament building close up. There was also a cathedral up on the hill near the castle, also spectacularly lit. We made it back to the bank and passed the giant parliament building (which appears to be a cross between a cathedral and the British Houses of Parliament) in Parliament Square. We continued to Margaret’s Bridge which leads across to Margaret’s Island (on which more tomorrow) and the other side of the Danube. We crossed only half way as we had been promised stunning night time views of the lit-up Danube by our host. I must give some grudging admiration to this scene, even if there was too much water.
Worn out from a hard day’s walking and travelling, we returned to the AirBnb for a well earned sleep and the unexpected sight of a bat flying passed our window. That’s all for today, join me tomorrow as we explore Budapest some more, by day this time. Until then, folks. Chesh.