I am casting my mind back now for this blog post, as I expect I will be for several posts to come actually. Anyway, I am going to attempt to recall the events of my birthday in January of this very year. As it was my 30th I thought I might do something a little, well, left of field and go abroad. So it was that Tash, Ben and I headed off to Budapest for a few nights on 2nd of January.

One thing I do remember is that we flew with Easy Jet and it was in one of those Airbus numbers, I really thought it was very nice indeed. Most roomy and the pilot was a real gentleman, one of the best descents and landings I've experienced.

We stayed in the Gellert which really was first rate. The best thing about it was that it had a proper thermal spa underneath it. Of course, use of this came with the room which was positively delightful. I can tell you now that there is nothing better than going into an insanely steamy steam room and then plunge pooling it up with a hangover... works wonders, miracles if you will. The tram system in Budapest is amazing. The metro is just lovely as well.

Gellert Budapest

Another bonus offered up by the Gellert was a quite stupendous breakfast, eggy bread daily. I gobbled it up a treat, really liked it a lot. On the day of my birthday we trammed it into the town and had a pizza followed by some of their rather distasteful local shots, very similar to Jagaermeister and called Unicum.

unicum

They like it as it warms you up in the cold, for it was exceptionally cold there. Oh, minus something or other, biting. Now, the Gellert is next door to a big hill with a statue thing on it, think it might be Jesus or some other such character:

Gellert Hill - Hotel to your left, Huxley

On one evening we ascended this hill, with a few minor issues to deal with:

1. It was caked in ice
2. It was dark and not well lit, not well lit at all
3. It is ruddy steep and there is not a lot to prevent you from toppling over the precipice

I went incredibly gingerly, as did Tash, but Ben was seemingly undeterred by the ice and marched on up to the top to see the Jesus character monument thing. Tash and I did not make it to the top; we were too scared by the perilousness of it all. Instead we made it close to the summit and then give up and descended in the safest manner we knew. The tactic was to sit down on a step and then lower oneself down to the next step by bum shifting. This is a slow process but I can confirm it is safe.

My advice is to not go up this thing at night in the winter unless:

1. You are wearing crampons
2. The Budapest authorities have thoroughly gritted it

The spa at the hotel is actually open to all the public and so when you go down there from your hotel room, robe clad with no shoes on, you do feel a little silly as you pass Joe Public mooching around in full on winter warmer attire. I was unaware of the situation so did not take any flip flops, if you are considering going here then I would suggest taking some form of waterproof footwear, especially if you get concerned about verrucas and other such like nasties lurking underfoot.

I really liked the spa and found it to be utterly relaxing. The steam room was fucking mental, you couldn't even see your hand if you held it up in front of your own flipping face, such was the intensity of the steaming. I couldn't stay in there for more than a few minutes. Jumping into the plunge pool after a little session was bloody refreshing and after a few repeats of this process you really do feel very light headed and lax. The thermal baths were the place to go after a good steaming, a choice of a fair few, my fave being the 36 degree offering.

Steam room through the archesThe 36 degree offeringOne of the thermal bathsThe swimming pool

They have this really bizarre thing that they do in the thermal baths, it's called Watsu. It looks so odd when you see people having a Watsu session. They have a Watsu enforcer cradling them in their arms and it looks like the person Watsu is being done to is behaving like a baby in its mother's arms, crazy. I have no idea what the Watsu enforcers are doing to these people but I don't like the look of it one little bit.

So weird

On the night of my birthday we came to find out about a 24 hour bar in the city which was a bit of a find and was full of odd characters. We did quite a lot of Tequila shots from what I remember and got back to the hotel in the very early hours of the morning having become separated from Ben. We were walking back from the bar and had just crossed the bridge from Pest into Buda and one minute he was there, the next he had gone! We were reunited when we went to go for breakfast, around 10am, and literally saw him coming down the corridor as we exited our room. It transpired that he had been on a little whistle stop tour of the Budapest Metro for the whole time we had been asleep!

On the final night we went out and discovered the motherload, a street full of bars not far from the Hotel. It would have been nice to have found this earlier but no matter. The best was The Pointer Pub, just because I like the name of it. We had a few in their before closing I can tell you.

The Pointer Pub's LogoThis is it - Pointer Pub

I nearly got caught short at the airport on the way home. I had to run to the toilet before getting airside which was pretty unpleasant. That will have been the wiener schnitzel making an unwelcome reappearance.

Well, I think I have remembered a fair bulk of the Budapest experience. I'm quietly pleased with myself.