In April 2012 I was lucky enough to welcome mum to the freezing shores of our British Isle. We had a wonderful time showing mum how we have carved out a life here, visiting some much loved spots around London before we hit the road. It was a happy but sad occasion, as Dad and Joel should have been joining us. We had been anticipating it for such a long time but heartbreakingly Dad had an accident the week before Mum & Dad were due to leave, which revealed to us that his brain tumour was growing back. Therefore he could not make the trip for risk of further seizures. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life receiving that phone call – as it sank in that Dad would never be able to make the journey to our new found home. After emotions had calmed a little I was glad that mum decided to keep the travel plans, and we instead exchanged Dad’s ticket for a flight for me to visit Australia in May.
So…a girls trip it became, and I was grateful to spend some mother-daughter time together even though we both carried Dad with us in our hearts. He was close to us in all our adventures even though he was not there in person. My mum is an absolute riot when travelling… she has a child like wonder and appreciation for everything, and you are guaranteed to meet some interesting characters, as mum will literally talk to a.n.y.o.n.e!
Budapest was on the agenda as people tend to rave about how fabulous it is, and being fans of Eastern Europe we decided to give it a burl. It was 25 degrees the week before, but when we arrived it was hovering around zero. Welcome to Europe! Thankfully I was prepared with two coats which mum and I shared between us as we skilfully navigated the public bus and train to the city centre to find our gracious airbnb host – who profusely apologised for the fact that we had to travel without our men. We encountered this type of lovely hospitality our whole time in Hungary, particularly in the countryside, but that’s another story.
Clad in our woolies we headed out to behold the magnificent chain bridge sparkling like hundreds of fireflies across the Danube. If that wasn’t spectacular enough, I was wowed by my personal favourite feat of architecture in Hungary – the houses of parliament. The photo below shows it cast against the deep blue sky, standing proud and mighty in stature. Mum ‘oohed and ahhed’ over the Jewish memorial by the banks whilst I rubbed my numb hands together and cursed the weather patterns that had invited winter back for a visit!
We amused ourselves in some charming markets set up in the square, little wooden chalets selling all types of handmade local goods which were hard to resist (and of course we didn’t. Top purchase was our wooden cheese knife, now fondly known by Joel as ‘Excalibur’). Mum and I delighted ourselves with the local fare, feasting on some kind of scrumptious dough delight – fresh from the stove and lathered with chilli jam and garlic. We went back several times throughout our stay!
I was interested to learn that Budapest is named as such because there are two sides to the city – Buda and Pest, divided by the rushing Danube river. Buda was on the agenda the next morning and we headed up to the Castle District where we passed time meandering through the cobblestone lanes, swaying our heads in unison to chiming bells, beholding the view, drinking magical hot chocolate in a famous patisserie, and observing Hungarian soldiers strutting in all their uniformed might.
After a return to our faithful marketplace, followed by a stroll through the city (where mum did an inspiring dance for a local busker!), we caught the oldest tram in Budapest to Hero’s Square (Hősök Tere). It was actually quite impressive, a vast tiled square with the most formidable horse sculptures to the memory of Hungarians who had given their lives for the freedom of their people and National independence. We were ‘proper’ tired by then and the green space sprawling out behind the monument beckoned us into its welcoming arms. We whiled away the afternoon lying in the sun in the midst of City Park with rather humorous Hungarian tunes drifting through the breeze. I had to drag mum away from her ‘main man’ – a noble cloaked statue who she had taken a fancy to.
It was back to the markets for our final feast in Budapest, tucking in to a loaf of bread filled with meat and vegetables. We noticed there were some homeless women clearing off with any unwanted food so we offered up our leftovers to some very grateful hands. Hungarian is not our forte but it didn’t stop mum from trying. I have some hilarious footage from our later adventures of mum asking a seriously ancient Hungarian woman for directions (clearly the worst choice ever, her face was so old and wrinkled I don’t know if she had ever met an English person in her life, let alone spoke a word of it). This gorgeous weathered pensioner persisted and persisted with the directions in rapid Hungarian with vigorous pointing and gesturing! Mum ended up nodding and pretending to understand whilst I clutched my sides trying to keep the video straight as I laughed… and laughed… and laughed under my breath until tears started leaking out of my eyes from the effort of trying to conceal my amusement! We are still giggling about that one, particularly when we replay the footage!
Anyhow, that was our time in beautiful Budapest. Mum is going to guest-blog our next stop: Eger. You probably haven’t heard of it… which is all the more reason why you should stop by the blog again to discover this hidden treasure!