Petnehazy Club Hotel
02.07.2016 - 04.07.2016 28 °C
On arrival at Budapest airport we were met by a driver and transported to our next destination Petnehazy Club Hotel. This was accomodation that Brian had booked on the internet through our Timeshare organisation RCI. We knew that it was just out of Budapest but had no idea just where. It turned out to be just a delight. As promised it was a Club set in the rolling countryside just outside the city. Not only were we surrounded by hills and bush but we also had every facility at our disposal, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and bar and to cap it all our delightful RCI rep Susanna was on hand to explain the transport systems and general organisation and to offer us a variety of sightseeing trips in Budapest and surrounds. Our room was basic but clean and comfortable with a small kitchenette which we hardly used as the meals were more exciting and very reasonably priced. The style of all the buildings was quite rustic, lots of wood and chalet type.
First day we took an organised boat trip down the Danube and around Margaret Is, a leisure island in the middle of Budapest accessible only by boat.
The tour was commentated so gave us an overview of the layout and interesting features on both sides 'Buda' and 'Pest', a very relaxed introduction to the city. Next day another tour, this time in a minibus with others from the resort. We got a close up of the sights that we had seen from the boat the previous day. First stop, a walk uphill to the square of St Matthias Church, strikingly white against the blue sky and beautifully ornate with stone carvings that looked like lacework. This square also had the ramparts and tower of the old castle, a great viewing platform to see over Budapest. The walk up was reminiscent of our walk up to Prague castle lined as it was with old colourful buildings, souvenir and craft shops at ground level. The old castle itself seemed to be in restoration so we didn't explore there. From there we joined the bus again and wound our way further uphill through the more wealthy suburbs to Gallert Hill. On top there is the citadel with a bronze statue of a woman holding a palm leaf high above her head commemorating the release of the city from the Nazis. There are other statues as well paying tribute to other eras of history. From there we crossed one of several bridges leading over to 'Pest' where we visited Parliament buildings set on the cliff just off the road in another Square. The building looked magnificent enough from the front but when we got around to the other side, it was even more so. An added bonus here was seeing the changing of the guards which happens everyday at 12 noon. Surprisingly after a very formal ceremony of precision marching, they marched to the front of the crowd and invited photographs. Also in the square were magnificent stone and bronze statues dedicated to various war heroes and several other very impressive buildings. We then drove into the middle of town to visit St Stephens Basilica, again an impressive building but even more so inside with its beautiful dome and many frescoes on the ceiling. Other features were the various shrines all dedicated to saints, St Martin and St Matthias and and all with a story but most interesting were the relics, the skull of St Martin and the piece de resistance, the hand of St Stephen housed in a separate chapel. Interesting but slightly bizarre !