This year we spent Christmas in Hungary, well most of the Christmas period, we actually spent Christmas eve partly at home in Redhill, UK, then Heathrow airport and Vienna. Then we spent most of Christmas Day in Vienna, and flew to Budapest in the evening.
So our Hungarian Christmas adventure started in the evening of Christmas Day after flying over to Budapest from Vienna on a small Bombardier Dash 8 plane which was a new experience for the both of us. This was the first time we were going to spend time in Budapest rather than go over to Debrecen which is Sassi’s home city. We left the plane and set off on our journey to the city centre.
Oh yeah additional information if you didn’t already know, Sassi is Hungarian so she has many brothers and sisters living in Hungary, so we were going to spend the first couple of days with 3 of her brothers and one her sisters.
Public transport to the city from the airport requires taking a bus and then changing to the Metro, overall the time takes around 50 minutes although depends where you stop in the city. We made our way to the apartment we booked on AirBNB. A nice surprise welcome from one of Sassi’s brothers on the walk to the apartment and soon after we arrived at the apartment to see others.
So we had a lovely late Christmas day meal together and shared presents with each other, and then it was time to rest after all this traveling.
We booked this apartment on airbnb and from the photos it looked quite nice but turned out to be quite dirty in places, beds were very cheap with one breaking as soon as we sat on it, along with other broken items. Sometimes the pictures can be deceiving. Overall the location was great and we did receive money back for the issues in the apartment.
We also took the chance to try out a new payment card for exchanging money called We Swap, the idea behind it is to swap currency with other people and load it on to the card, this gave us the best rate but the downside was we had to wait exactly 7 days for the money which meant we couldn’t get money out until the 26th. We did have the typical idea of surely it wouldn’t actually take that long, but it did.
Boxing day (aka 26th) we went out and had a tour of Budapest from Sassi’s brother. We took the Bus to the Liberty Bridge and from this point we started walking making our way to the Liberty Statue on the hill overlooking the city, this walk took us up to some lovely viewpoints over Budapest. Once we made it to the top we then headed back down to make our way to Buda castle. For a December winter day it was surprisingly sunny and warm, once we made it to the top again we stopped for drinks and to use the toilet. There aren’t many free toilets in Budapest, or many public toilets in general so we had to rely on buying products in cafes etc to use toilets.
We then walked over to Fisherman’s Bastion to take in the views over the city once more, at this point you are able to see a closer view of the Parliament building and the centre of Budapest.
We took the bus down to the bottom of the hill, and the walk again going through a tunnel and making our way to the Chain bridge. By this time it was getting darker, so we were able to take in the sunset views while crossing the bridge. The bridge is very beautiful and one of the iconic landmarks of the city.
We walked over to St Stephens Basilica where there was a Christmas market, we had a look around and then decided we needed to get some Kürtőskalács aka Chimney cake covered in cinnamon sugar. We watched the light show projection on the Basilica, which was pretty creative. After this we headed back home through another Christmas market but by this time we were all tired and just wanted to get home to rest, so we didn’t stop. Managed to get some night shots of Buda Castle then took the bus back to the apartment.
So the brothers cooked a delicious cat fish dish which took 2 hours but was very nice.
The next day we left the apartment in the morning, and made our way to the Nyugati train station where we booked a van on a car share website called Oszkar this worked out at half the price and took around 2 hours which is about 30 minutes less than the train would of taken. So this worked out really well plus the guy had wifi in the van so helped us with planning on directions to the next apartment.
We arrived in Debrecen around lunch time and made our way into the city centre to buy some gifts and pick up shopping before heading to the apartment. Once we arrived at the apartment we were welcomed from the nice lady who lived in the same block she showed us round and left. This apartment was a lot nicer but later on we found out that the hot water was an issue and broke down a few times during our stay so this meant we got more money back again. So far two apartments and two issues.
We had a little rest and then walked to Sassi’s Grans home, this took us through some nice places, which were lit up for Christmas such as the University. We arrived at Grans house and she welcomed us with open arms and even had a meal waiting for us which we weren’t expecting. A lovely stuffed cabbage dish with a sugar free cake for dessert. We managed to spend some time with Sassi’s gran and looking through old photos of Sassi as a baby. We then rushed back to the apartment to meet some more friends of Sassi’s.
The next day we went to have a meal at Daniel (Sassi’s oldest brother) house, well his new house that they have only just moved in to. It was a lovely new house, and we got to meet the newest member of the family who was born in November. We also got to play with another baby who was born last year, Mia who is Sassi’s older sisters daughter. She was very cute and seemed to stare at us for awhile and then decided that she was happy to play with us.
After the meal we left for the city centre and spent some time looking around the shops, and then moved over to the Christmas markets to have some food, it was Hanukkah and there was a performance celebration happening in the centre which involved a lot of music but then some fire show which was very interesting. It was also Lidia (Sassi’s youngest sister) birthday so she spent time with her friends.
The next day we had to get up and pack all our things and get ready to leave the apartment. We left for the city centre once again, we had booked another car on Oszkar to take us to Budapest at 6:10pm so we had most of the day to spend together with Jonatan and Lidia. We had a lovely lunch together, although we ended up ordering too much food, and had issues with how they decided to charge us for certain meals, slight confusion over how they do things in Hungary when it comes to food. We also got to spend time with Rita one of Sassi’s friends.
We had to leave around 3pm to go to another town with Jonatan as he had a Church meeting that he wanted us to come along to, we made the journey by bus and found our way to the church from the help of his friend. We arrived to a Church full of young people all fired up and worshiping together in Gods presence it was lovely to be here. This was very encouraging to see as this was something that is really helping Jonatan in his faith and having this community around him, especially during this time where most of the family don’t live in Debrecen anymore. Sassi got up and said a few words in front of the group about how encouraging it is to see them all here together. We couldn’t stay for a very long as we needed to get back to go to Budapest.
We left and said our goodbyes to Jonatan and went back to the city centre with Lidia. The pick up point for the driver to get us was the train station, we waited and waited and no one showed up we tried calling and texting and no answer until about 5 minutes after he was meant to arrive he called us to say that he would be another 40 minutes… Not great so this meant we had to jump on the train and without thinking we bought tickets for the slow train…3 hours long. We said our goodbyes to Lidia and quickly ran to the train. Even though it was a slow train it wasn’t so bad as we had our own cabin for most of the journey as the train was mostly empty, this gave us time to rest. By the time we arrived at the train station in Budapest we were ready to rush to the next airbnb apartment. Annoyingly the listing had the wrong address so after searching around for the apartment we had to contact the host who informed us he made a mistake luckily it was only a few minutes walk away from where we were. The host greeted us and apologised, he showed us the place and it was lovely, all newly decorated to a high standard, we were his third guests so everything was new and found out that he also mistakenly put the apartment up for a low price which was fine for us as it was super value for money.
We had a lovely nights sleep here and felt rested, we also had a late check out time, 3pm, so this meant Barnus and Beni could come see us for one last time and they insisted that they would cook us Spaghetti for lunch. So we had one last meal together and then left the apartment together to venture out to the Christmas markets for one last time and then do some night photos (5pm was dark enough) We had some Mulled wine and said our Goodbyes to them and headed off to the river to do some awesome photos of the city with the lights on. We walked from the Chain bridge all the way to the Parliament building along the river Danube, from here we then decided to make our way to the metro and head to the airport hotel. It ended up being a long journey to get there by metro and train and walking but we made it there. The hotel airport Panzio was ok for what we paid although it cost more than the previous apartment. There was a cheap and lovely restaurant there, we had some traditional Hungarian food with the last of our money.
We took a taxi to the airport only 5 minutes away so was quick and easy, Sassi also planned to see a friend at the airport as weren’t able to see her previously, unfortunately they were late so we didn’t get to spend much time with her. Security was quick, but our flight was delayed by 20 minutes. We boarded the plane and said farewell to Hungary and our Christmas adventure. We had to have a 7 hour stop over in Brussels on the way back to London. Our Brussels stop over can be seen HERE.
We arrived at London Heathrow earlier on New years eve, and Nick’s Dad picked us up and we went back to celebrate the new year with them as we were far too tired to head back to Redhill with all the public transport and train strikes going on. We were able to relax and show photos of our time over the Christmas period with them and then raise a glass together at midnight, and then we headed to bed and made sure we had a nice sleep. New years day we spent visiting Nick’s Gran mother and then had a lovely steak lunch with Nick’s parents at their home.
We had a lovely time over christmas although the whole time we never rested much so we were looking forward to getting some good sleep and not moving around for a while.