Europe | Hungary | Budapest – Tram number 2
In the morning we had coffee on the boat and set off to explore. The number 2 tram is recommended in the Guardian’s ‘cheap things to do all over the world if you can afford to get to these places in the first place’ section. The tram costs 30 pence and you can take in quite a few of the city’s major sites. We would also discover later that it was our local tram, which would take us form the Botel to anywhere we wanted to go.
Buying a ticket was not so easy but we persevered, after reading about ticket inspectors on public transport in Budapest – which is true – there ARE inspectors and the tickets systems is not that tough once you work it out. Buy a ticket (or several) from a newsagent or tobacconist and validate the little purple slip of paper in a machine on the tram (or before you board the subway).
We passed the gothic Hungarian Parliament building, went through the UN World Heritage-listed area and saw the view of the Buda Castle and of course the Danube, which with the aid of sunglasses actually looked blue today. It was a lovely introduction to the city.
We took the tram a bit too far, though, where the cityscape became less scenic, and buildings were not crumbling enough to be interesting. We thought we got on the number 2 tram to go back, as it said ‘2’ both outside and in, but it turned and went another way until we were the last ones on it. Fortunately my sense of direction is pretty good and we soon walked back to the river and the tram stop. The tram even waited for us as we crossed the road, something a London bus would never do.
A little side commentary here on backpacking. It’s been over 10 years since I last went on trip with all my possessions strapped to my back; recently I’ve chosen to travel by bicycle. But as my husband is partially sighted (sounds better than fat and lazy) we’ve skipped the fitness in favour of trains and rucksacks. And fashions sure have changed since I last did this. We saw some guys at a cafe this morning with metal mesh things around their packs, like chain mail for rucksacks only wider and lighter it just looked so sophisticated. Advanced. Expensive. And a girl at Keleti station was wearing platform diamante flip flops, drawn on eyebrows, and matching designer backpack and handbag. She looked really rich but still had the don’t-f*ck-with-me attitude necessary for travelling in unfamiliar places where beggars and thieves might be rife. A comment on that though – Budapest feels much safer than London. There isn’t that aggressive edge even with the obvious gap between rich and poor. The cash machines are IN the bank – you need to card to get to it. Like in New York. With all the cashpoint theft you’d think they’d adapt that practice in London too.