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Journeys : Apr May 2011
The good thing about Szechenyi is that men and women bathe together (many other baths in Budapest are segregated) so it’s a great place for couples, families and groups of friends. You need at least a couple of hours at the baths, which are a perfect way to relax after a busy day explor ing Budapest, a city of 1.7 million people. Once split into two cities – Buda and Pest – and divided by the Danube River, the city became one in 1873. It brims with histor y, beautiful buildings and amazing food. One thing is certain – you’ll never go hungry in Hungar y, especially if you visit the all-you-can-eat cake buffet at the Marr iott Hotel, where diners are confronted w ith rows of fabulous-looking cakes, f lans, strudels, chocolates, mousse cups and cookies, all laid out on tiny trays in tasty bite-sized portions. Add to that fruit, cream and vanilla and chocolate sauces (plus unlimited sparkling w ine and free tea, coffee or hot chocolate) for just A$13 and it’s heaven for any sweet tooth. Make sure you save room for the tasty food on offer at the local markets. The Great Market Hall, alongside picturesque Liberty Br idge, is filled with clothing, jeweller y, souvenirs, baked goods, fresh vegetables and cold meats, making it the ideal place to enjoy authentic Hungarian salami. Budapest attracts 2.3 million tourists a year and it’s not hard to see why. For the past two years it has been ranked in the quality-of-life index as the most liveable Central/Eastern European city. It has also been named by Forbes magazine as among Europe’s top 10 most idyllic places to live. Spectacular Buda Castle dominates the landscape, while the equally-impressive neo-Gothic parliament building, where the Hungarian Crow n Jewels are on display, is a must-see destination, along with Heroes’ Square and Fisherman’s Bastion. By night Budapest is even more stunning – a Danube river cruise is an essential inclusion in any itinerary. The two sides of the city are connected by numerous bridges, including the impressive Szechenyi Lanchid (or Chain Bridge), the first bridge to link Buda and Pest. The suspension bridge has become one of Budapest’s most photographed landmarks and was named after Count Istvan Szechenyi, whose name is also remembered in the spa and baths. The plethora of bridges means you can easily spend hours wander ing the streets of Budapest. Best of all, when you tire of sightseeing, you can always return to the baths to relax, unwind – and even play a game or two of chess if you’re brave enough to challenge the locals. Opposite: Chess in the spa; Great Market Hall. This page, clockwise from lower left: Szechenyi Spa; Great Market Hall; Szechenyi bridge; matryoshka dolls Destinations April / May 2011 15
Feb March 2011
Jun Jul 2011