48 hours in Budapest

I love Budapest for lots of reasons – its a romantic city (whats not to love about standing on a beautiful bridge looking over the city) architecture (especially art nouveau and modernist concrete metro stations), rickety trams, and long leisurely soaks in one of the municipal baths. This trip was spent investigating how many weird and wonderful transport modes you can take to meander round without wearing out the soles of your trainers! And food, a trip always involves food and plenty of it.

Some of the trip highlights for me were seeking out the Gyermekvasút (children’s railway.) It is an extracurricular educational institution from Soviet times operated by children between the ages of 10 and 14. Many children’s railways are still functioning in post-Soviet states and Eastern European countries like here. Children conduct many of the jobs like ticketing and boarding

We also ventured to the Buda hills. The ‘Libegő‘ is one of Budapest’s unique experiences. It is a two-way chairlift system that transports passengers between Zugliget and the lookout tower on János Hill (the highest peak in the city), providing beautiful panorama along the way. Quite a scary experience as you have to trust these things have been maintained well

On route to the top of Castle hill we took the The Funicular Railway which is a 19th century cable car on the side of the Buda castle Hill, which will take you from the Chain Bridge up to the top next the Royal Palace and the Hungarian Presidential Palace in the Buda Castle District. Fishermen’s Bastion is one of the most fascinating sights up there Fishermen’s Bastion built in the 1890s was used for defence but now  it’s purely decorative.

Food and drink tips, quite spoiled for choice.  Head in the direction of  Karaván – a street food court.  Leves (soup) is the classic street food place. Tasty cups of soup perfect for lunch on the run,  freshly made on the premises and delicious.   Hummus bar  was pretty tasty too. What can I say, Husband is a carnivore and everyday we passed this place and had to give it a go Hot stone steak house but the most memorable place was Baraka a fine dining foodie destination for food with a fusion touch. Coffee and a cake has to be done at the The new York cafe At the turn of the 20th century the New York Café (New York Kávéház) was the most beautiful and the most beloved coffee house in Budapest. It fell into disrepair after WW11 and was restored to its full glory again in 2006, great cakes!

To wet the palate  you must experience a famous ruin bar Szimpla Kert.  It’s a run down building filled with all manner of brick a brac and stuff, lots of stuff, random stuff, fairy lights, typewriters, old cars, if you look hard enough you could probably find anything.  Open air cinema and live music are also on offer

I have decided that Budapest wouldn’t be so magical without a good smattering of coloured fairy lights at night or a good pallet sofa.  It has a really good laid back vibrant scene at night and I must have got carried away as ended up dancing the night away at Otkert 

The Danube next stop, all aboard a river cruise. Along the Danube by the cathedral is a sculpture called Shoes on the Danube Promenade.  Installed along the bank there are 60 pairs of 1940s-style shoes made of Iron to represent the 20,000 jews shot along the river during WW11.  Haunting!

Next to City Park, right of Heroes’ Square and behind the Palace of Art (Műcsarnok) is the Time wheel  designed to mark time, the public installation was built in 2004 to celebrate Hungary’s inclusion into the European Union. On 31st December each year, it takes 4 people 45 minutes to  rotate the Timewheel 180 degrees on rails,  to reset the chronological clock for another year.

Szechenyi Spa Baths in Budapest is one of Europes largest baths and oldest (built in 1913) with a whopping 15 indoor baths and 3 grand outdoor pools. Full day nearly spent here, for medicinal reasons (relieving aching legs and feet) Be aware pay at the cabin inside and avoid being fast tracked and sold a private package at the entrance, otherwise worth every huf  (Hungarian currency) If you like to party they do party nights which looked fun I have to say.

The rest of the time was just spent wandering around taking in the vibes, 41km’s to be exact but who’s counting. 💗 you Budapest it was a blast

Corfu in Technicolour

This years summer escape was Corfu in the Greek Ionian islands. These islands lie off Greece’s western coast and the North of the Island is closer to Albania than mainland Greece.  9 years ago we took a few months touring the Cyclades with our one year old daughter, a buggy and two backpacks but this trip was more about R&R (rest and relaxation) and sun, lashings of glorious sun. Turquoise water was the request from my 10 year old and a inflatable unicorn so at least someone was easily pleased. I just wanted to escape easily from Aberdeen Airport on a direct flight, getting lazy in my old age.

It was hot at about 34° but the sea breezes kept it manageable and lashings of factor 30 made sure no one was sporting the lobster look. However it did feel warm for sightseeing so this time those days were limited and anyway this was not about cramming in loads of stuff to do.

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This year we didn’t hire a car but opted to get a taxi from the airport to Sidari (about 45km) and it took about 50 minutes through the mountains to the northernly part of the island.  The rest of the time we used the public bus system Green Buses

The buses were great, air conditioned coaches and helpful conductors on each route to make sure you knew where you were going and what time the return buses left.  The roads in Corfu are narrow and loads of rental cars would add to the congestion so I felt happy to use the transport links provided.

Corfu Town

Its approximately 1.15mins from Sidari by bus but only 3.70 euro.  Travelling with children can be taxing, especially if they want to stay at the pool, (so always pack swimmers) and walking round an Unesco world heritage site in 32° is boring apparently so we decided to visit the Old fortress of Corfu.  The creation of this fortress was started during Byzantine times and later the Venetian occupation used it to defend against turkish invaders.DSCF9054-Edit

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Its a small hike to the top but worth it for the panoramic views of the city and seaDSCF9065DSCF9068-Edit At the East side, inside the Fortress next to the Corfu Town Sailing Club you will find a small pebbly beach used mainly by locals cooling off,  facing the beautiful Vidos Island. The lure of the turquoise was hypnotic to the daughter and she had peeled off clothes in a flash and was gone

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Perfect hidden spot for city bathing

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Feeling refreshed and we were off

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Next stop Paleokastritsa

Agia Triada is the first beach that you find when you get in Paleokastritsa. You can hire a boat to see the coves and caves and stunning scenery, well worth it. After find a spot in the very crowded beach and chill out, do a bit of snorkelling (if you can brave the icy water) It was pretty cold but I assume it was because it was so clear. Spot of lunch and soaking up the rays

Photographer fail, My camera battery died on the boat trip and my husband in the boat in front had the spare in his bag. Oh well, I was on holiday suppose!

Nausica Cave, named after the daughter of the King of the Phaeacians.

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La Grotta Beach Bar, Paleokastritsa was one of the filming locations the James Bond film For Your eyes OnlyDSCF9104DSCF9112

Monkey rock or (The Lion head) so called because the profile at the top of hill has a bit sticking out which looks like the face of an ape. Definitely an ape not a lionDSCF9114

Another cave is called Blue Eye due to a patch of incredibly blue water which resembles an eye.DSCF9136

Canal d’ Amour

Canal d’ Amour is one of the reasons we chose Sidari as a base, away from the madding party crowds of Kavos in the south. These stunning rock formations and secluded beaches were on my to see list

The rocks run in different shades of yellow and bolster lots of greenery at the top. One can reach these stunning coves through several paths and steps. According to the local customs, couples who swim through the narrow canal will get married soon. Too late!

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The D’mour beach bar was stunning and did a mean Aperol spritz after a day on the sand.DSCF9180

Look at that happy face! More turquoise hues and fish…loads of them.  Next stop Kassiopi which is a charming fishing town situated on a small peninsula on the north-east corner of the island of Corfu. Kanoni beach, one of the most impressive beaches of the island I’ve visited. I loved its rocky formation and wild beauty and although its the height of the season it was still uncrowded.  Relax on a sun lounger or smooth rocks and enjoy the unparalleled beautiful view of Albania or diving in the refreshing clear waters of the sea, or in my case take a few pictures and then spend the rest of time trying in vain to catch a fish with a pink bandy netDSCF9201DSCF9209DSCF9228DSCF9259DSCF9261

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Peroulades beach which is also known as Logas Sunset Beach is a must if visiting this part of the island.  Our reason for visiting was food.  We booked to eat at the Panorama Restaurant and 7th Heaven Cafe, booking is not really my thing but has to be done if you want to see a spectacular sunset whilst slurping your mussels

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Our rule of thumb is never to return to the same place again but Corfu stole a little piece of me and you never know, we might just return to see some more or have a cheeky Mojito at the Vintage, some of the best cocktails I have ever had  Vintage Cocktail BarDSCF9319-Edit.jpg