The last few days have been amazing yet again. I know I probably shouldn't be surprised, but every day is just so exceedingly wonderful.
Wednesday was a bit rainy during the day, plus it was the Hungarian national holiday, and not much was open either. So I took the opportunity to go to the train station and get my ticket to Prague. It seemed many others had a similar idea and as a result it was an hour and a half wait, so I just hung out in my own whilst Denise wandered the city a bit. Then we met back up at our apartment to prep for the eve. And what an eve it was!
St. Stephen's Day is the pretty much the most important Hungarian holiday and they celebrate with a massive fireworks session over the Danube. So we had booked a table at a boat restaurant docked on the river. More importantly, we had friends join us! Denise's boyfriend Cormac came in from the UK for a night, he's a huge fireworks nut. And the final member of our New Zealand crew, Sara also finally joined the reunion! Well, my reunion - Christina couldn't make it to Budapest but I was lucky enough to already have her in my schedule.
Dinner was incredible and we kibitzed with friends old and new. The open bar didn't hurt our enjoyment of the evening either. Denise "stole" the little plastic spoons from our dessert and many a shocker was flashed. I might be the instigator, but my team is quick to join in without much encouragement.
Then promptly at 9 the show started. There are three barges in the middle of the river, set between two bridges. All five of these things were loaded up with fireworks and coordinated to narration and music that echoes over the river. I'd say it was about 30 minutes of the most awe inspiring fireworks I've ever seen. And from our vantage point you didn't only hear the noise, you felt the booming power of this show in your chest and well, the whole body really. It was a-maz-ing.
We then sat back down and continued chatting and drinking until we were the last table standing and the staff was right annoyed with us. And we rolled back onto land and found an outdoor mojito bar and had a nightcap. Sara and I then bid adieu to Denise and Cormac and walked back to the tram in the pouring rain and Sara got her first look at our lovely little apartment. We dried off and fully exhausted we both crashed for the night.
Thursday morning, I took Sara on an exploratory wander of the city we eventually crossed the river and ended up climbing the hill to Buda castle. Great views and impressive history up there I tell ya. Down at Matheus church we found a cafe built into the Fishermen's Bastion and had a drrink while basking in the view and having a good old girlie catch up on life. Then we walked some more and ended up back home, ate some food and decided to take a (glorious) nap. Denise returned from her day with Cormac and we found a little ruin pub nearby and popped over for a quick beer. But overall it was a chill and early night.
Friday was my last day in town so we dashed down to Market Hall to grab a Langos for Sara to try (and Denise and I graciously suffered through our third in a week). I also scored some local paprika to take home, the cook in me is excited for that. But Denise was developing a cold, so we thought we would keep the day a little more low key and we headed over to Margaret Island. A beautiful respite in the middle of town, on the Danube of course. It's like the Central Park of Budapest, but with ruins of churches and convents and two UNESCO heritage sites - the water tower and a musical fountain. We saw the fountain a couple of times. As we arrived, they had the water dancing to modern classics like Simon and Garfunkle and the Rolling Stones. And while leaving we caught another show set to classical music. So cool.
But most of our day was spent at the Palatinus water park. This place was sprawling... water slides, a wave pool a fountain and about four different thermal pools of varying temperature. The warmest one got most of our time, but we dipped in most of them at some point. And these old wave pools are just insanely fun. We all flailed around like 6 year olds in there. What a freaking blast!
And to celebrate our final night together, we headed down to the Jewish quarter. We saw the Great Synagogue and the holocaust memorial in the back and then up to the ruin pub with reportedly the best food. And the reviews did not disappoint. We ate in a lovely garden that was packed with people chatting and drinking and just enjoying the lovely cool summer night. Denise's cold had progressed and Sara and I were both exhausted and happy to have an excuse to crash out for the night.
It has been incredible to reconnect with these ladies and, just like with Christina, it truly was like no time had passed. Three years is nothing between good friends. I know I repeat myself, but I'm one lucky and blessed human being.