Budapest is a beautiful city, the capital of Hungary, located on the Danube River. We came here by river cruise, but there are also many flights, on regular as well as cheap airlines, from all over Europe.
We had reservations at the Kempinski Corvinus Hotel. It is right downtown, kitty corner to the British Embassy in a really nice office and residential district. Easy walking to the river, the parliament buildings and all the great shopping on the Pest side, as well as being close to the bridges to get over to the Buda side.
The hotel is truly five star, with large, comfortable and well equipped rooms, great service, and excellent food, at reasonable prices for what you get. With our Virtuoso rates we got breakfast, an upgrade, and a bottle of wine and fruit in the room, for 209 Euros. Not just not bad but really great value.
Several things to be sure to try in Budapest, include the fantastic local wines. We walked to the Four Seasons Hotel, and enjoyed a couple of glasses of a magnificent red wine, the 2006 Vylvan Ducniaw Villany. It was full bodied and extremely rich with lots of berry tastes, and extremely well valued. We had a pleasant hour meeting Georgy Sagi, the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, and looking around the hotel. It is Budapest's most expensive, but has a luxurious ambience, and location right on the river.
From there we went to the memorial on the river, to the Jews and others murdered in the war by the Arrow Cross Militia, a Hungarian Fascist Party that nightly during December 1944 and January 1945 would take political enemies, army deserters, and especially Jews from the ghetto and line them up on the banks of the Danube. After forcing them to remove their shoes they were shot. The memorial is simple pairs of bronze shoes, broken down, old, worn out shoes, as people would have left them. Really moving.
We then walked to the Imre Nagy memorial, my first real life hero. When I was a child he was the communist Prime Minister of Hungary, but after the revolution of 1956 he defied his allies and joined the Hungarian revolution. My childish memory still recalls the pleas to the West of Radio Free Hungary as the Russians invaded, with thousands of deaths of local patriots, and a huge refugee outflow to western Europe. Imre Nagy was hung the following year, but his memorial, showing him on a bridge, was very simple but moving. There were mounds of wreaths and flowers, so clearly the local population is as moved by him, as I was.
We then wanted some good Hungarian Food. The Kheiron Cafe and Restaurant filled the bill wonderfully. Extremely clean, it is delightful. There was a Hungarian trio playing discreetly in the background, and the place filled up with locals enjoying the food and service. We ate typical Hungarian Food…… the beef goulash and potatoes I really enjoyed, and Patti loved the veal goulash with noodles. If you're looking for it, it's on Arany Janos, with a web site at www.kheiron.hu . Okay, it's all in Hungarian, but the food is as good as it looks. Superb.
Anyway, if you get a chance, Budapest is a wonderful stop. Stay at the Kempinski for tremendous value.