Rotary Wheel

The Rotary Club of Colwall in the Malvern Hills

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I recently booked a group of 12 people from my local Rotary Club to visit Budapest. As a member of the club I travelled as part of the group.

We flew with KLM from Birmingham to Budapest via Amsterdam instead of with Wizzair as the flight times were better with KLM and the price was about the same cost. The short stopover in Amsterdam allowed us to have an enjoyable lunch before we continued to Budapest.

On arrival in Budapest we transferred to our hotel, the Three Corners Art Hotel which is found in the heart of the city. The hotel is a great 3-star hotel and is on a very quiet street, yet is just minutes from the Metro, the tram network, many of the museums and the river. Everyone was happy with the hotel which had clean rooms and friendly staff. The hotel buffet breakfast offered a large selection of hot and cold food.

We opted to go on a guided cycle tour of the city. This is a great way to see a city as you feel more connected as you travel around than when you are on a coach tour. The cycle path network is extensive and our guide had a planned route that avoided cycling on busy roads. We saw the major attractions in Pest before crossing the river to Buda to visit the castle.

We purchased a 72 hour pass which allowed us to travel on the Metro and trams allowing us to easily get to the key places in the city. We visited the houses of parliament and the Museum of Terror which documents the various times when Budapest was occupied by foreign powers. This museum is located in the secret police building and you can tour the cells where people were kept. It is easy to get around the city as all signs were in Hungarian and also in English. The pass also allowed us to take a ferry along the river so we went "to the end of the line" for lunch before returning to the city centre by train and tram.

There is a good mix of restaurants and bars all offering Hungarian cuisine. We enjoyed most restaurants but found the riverboat restaurant "Spoons" a disappointment. A great restaurant is "Borsso", located next door to the Three Corners Art Hotel. This offered fine dining in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Menus are usually in English as well as Hungarian.

The highlight of my visit was the café culture. We enjoyed pedestrianized streets, travelling by tram and stopping for a coffee or a beer. What surprised me the most was how quiet the city seems - most likely because the transport system is so good that people do not need cars in the city centre.

So, if you have a few days spare and fancy getting away, please do consider Budapest as it has a lot to offer.

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