TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Welcome back once again, glad you could join me for today’s Tail. Last night’s late night exploring left us rather exhausted and as a result everybody slept in until after 11:00. By the time we had gotten out of bed, cooked a very large breakfast in an attempt to lighten our bags and generally faffed about, it was nearly 1:00 when we were ready to go – a waste of a morning in my opinion.
Anyway, our first stop was the Varsoliget park and gardens which had – oh horrors – a lake and an island in the middle of this lake. We sat on a bench at the shallow end of the lake for an inordinately long time to allow the humans to digest their breakfast, mentally and physically. This large park was strange as it had a fairly major road running through it and Charlie also walked on water which terrified me no end. Luckily, Charlie exited the water and fairly soon we walked away from the pedalo-infested lake. But all too soon, we were back near the lake and crossing a small bridge onto the island which I must admit did contain a rather fabulous collection of old castle-type buildings, although I did note the absence of cannons, this not being a defensive castle. We then returned to the (relative) safety of the rest of the park, although both humans were slightly melting in the 30˚C plus heat. As the AirBnb was only slightly off course from the humans plans, we returned briefly to ‘freshen up’ as I have heard some humans so comically refer to it. By the time we were ready to leave, it was after 3:30 which gives you some idea how long those terrible humans spent staring at the lake.
Our plan had originally been to walk through town, across to the castle and up to Margaret’s Island, all before dinner, but they then changed their minds. Their new plan, and this is truly terrible, was to get on a boat and sail on the river! Even the promise of history during the boat tour was not enough to make me like this plan and so I hid myself firmly in Charlie’s bag for the duration of this trip.
As I was busy faking a coma, I designated Charlie to be in charge of remembering the tour for the purposes of this Tail. The tour started between the Elizabeth Bridge and Chain Bridge. The audio-guide, helpfully provided on every seat of the boats by means of a pair of headphones, was cleverly narrated by Buda and Pest, the two halves of this city. Yes, Budapest was originally two cities, Buda to the west of the Danube and Pest to the east, but they were then connected by bridges and became one, imaginatively called Budapest. We spent almost our entire trip in Pest, if you’re interested. Anyway, the tour gave us some wonderful upside down views of the bridges and some right way up views of the castle, parliament building, many churches and Margaret Island. We also passed under Liberty Bridge to the south before turning around and sailing back up to Margaret Island, passing under Margaret Bridge and Árpád Bridge which are neatly placed to either end of the island. Buda Castle (for it is indeed on the Buda side of the city) was destroyed and rebuilt many times. Buda itself was named after Attila the Hun’s brother who was murdered by Attila when Attila tried to wrest control of the city. This plan rather failed for Attila as the city became named after Buda and all that remained of Attila was a tendency for children to be named Attila.
Parliament took 17 years to be built by a work force of 1000 labourers working every day, it has a concrete slab base 20m below the river but is made of limestone and so is crumbling away. The Slovaks lived here for a bit and mined coal, Hungary at one point was part of the Ottoman Empire. Margaret Island is named after a Princess Margaret who wanted a nunnery built on said island. This wish was granted and the island, which was at one point three islands, gained a nunnery and a new name.
Our tour boat looped around the island and executed a perfect handbrake turn to drop us off on the island. We wandered the island for half an hour where we visited the musical fountain (it was only musical on the hour and disappointingly we had just missed it), a Japanese garden where we saw a dog, a duck, some fish and a terrapin, and the old water tower. We then got back on the boat (why?) and returned to our boarding zone between the Chain and Elizabeth Bridges.
My humans then decided it was dinner time (but what about the castle?) at Nepfényes Etterem. Here, Charlie had a traditional Hungarian dish of cabbage leaves stuffed with sausage and veg (but mostly sausage) topped with a frankfurter sausage, seitan, sauerkraut and yoghurt with a bowl of salad from the salad bar. Jack didn’t have a Hungarian dish and instead had a ‘coal-burner’ pizza (a reference to the coal-mining Slovaks of old perhaps?) which had a lot of cheese, some sausage and onion on it, with a strawberry smoothie. For pudding they had ice cream (again!), caramel and carob for Charlie and caramel and biscuits for Jack. All the food was delicious, and although the humans weren’t exactly hungry after their giant breakfast, they happily packed it in.
Once dinner was finished, we set of back to the AirBnb (but what about the castle?) and vainly searched for souvenirs. Out of options, we returned to the AirBnb empty handed. Not to worry, we’re off to Sofia tomorrow, we can explore more then; we’d better get to the castle! Until then, folks. Chesh.