Wednesday 31 March 2010

Visit Budapest

Eating in BudapestEATING IN BUDAPEST
Gundel Restaurant
Allatkerti ut 2, 1146 Budapest
Tel +36 1363 1917
Founded in 1894 by Janos Gundel, this establishment has been called the best restaurant in Europe. The dining hall recalls the opulence of Budapest at the beginning of the twentieth century and also boasts a champagne bar and wine cellar. There is also a terrace garden, which is a delightful place to sit in the
summer and listen to gypsy musicians.
The head chef, the proud owner of a Europe award and the Toque d’or, and his team reinvest traditional Gundel recipes to create veritable works of art in food, which have pleased the taste of such dignitaries as Her Maesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Holiness Pope John Paul II!

Alabardos Restaurant
Orszaghaz ut 2, 1014
Tel +36 1356 0851
Located in an impressive, old Gothic building from the 15th century, Alabardos is only a few steps from the Gothic Matthias Church and the panoramic ramparts on top of the Castle hill called Fishermen’s Bastion. The restaurant has a terrace and a garden besides the internal rooms, which are all decorated in a style that combines medieval memorabilia, walls, colors with 19th century refurbishment. Wine selection is assisted by a sommelier. World-famous Zsolnay and Herend porcelains are used for dining.

Mokka Restaurant
Sas ut 4, 1051
Tel +36 1328 0081
Mokka Cafe and Restaurant is one of the restaurants in Budapest recommended by the Michelin guide. Its style is trendy-elegant ‘ethno-eclectic’ combining African-Mediterranean colors and elements. But it’s also ethno-eclectic in its cuisine in a sense that the restaurant is striving to create its own Mokka versions of international and Hungarian dishes with a modern flair. Sommelier helps you to pick wines.

Arcade Bistro
Kiss Janos Altabornagy ut 38, 1126
Tel +36 1225 1969
Arcade Bistro is a very popular upscale French style restaurant in Budapest off the beaten tourist track.
As Fodor’s guide puts it, Arcade Bistro is a “modern, sophisticated bistro on a leafy intersection not far from Déli Pályaudvar (Train Station). The floor-to-ceiling waterfall smack in the middle of the dining room soothes as it keeps conversations discreet and complements the unfussy interior.” It is a pleasant retreat at the foot of the Buda hills, which serves a unique palette of seafood and a selection of Hungarian and international cuisine.

Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge HotelHOTEL ACCOMODATION IN BUDAPEST
Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge Hotel
Roosevelt ter 2, 1051
This luxury five star hotel is ideally located on the bank of the river Danube, in the heart of the city's premier shopping, dining and entertainment area. The Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge blends comfort and elegance with modern technology and French flair. The newly renovated interior creates a contemporary impression with its dark brown and pink high-end furnishing and fascinating floral decorations. Enjoy 350 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites and the exclusive Sofitel Club.
This luxury high-class hotel offers breathtaking views of the Chain Bridge and Royal Castle.

It is recommended to carry your passport and/or photo-driving licence at all times. You must be able to show some form of identity if requested, e.g. by the police. A photocopy is not acceptable.
Hungarian laws on the possession and use of drugs are strict.

Public transportation in BudapestPUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN BUDAPEST
Budapest’s network of public transport services includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, underground trains (Metró) and over ground suburban trains (HÉV).
Buses, trams and trolleybuses run daily from 04.30 am until 11.00 pm. All three Underground lines connect at Deák tér Station, and service frequencies range from 15 minutes late in the evening to every two minutes at peak times.
Tickets have to be bought before boarding, they are available at Underground stations, tobacconists and newsagents, and from vending machines at many bus and tram stops in the city centre. They are valid for one single journey of any length (without changing) on all routes (excluding those parts of the HÉV that lie outside the metropolitan boundary of Budapest). Special tickets can be purchased that allow a change of route, and that cover the HÉV outside Budapest. There is also a range of pre-paid books of tickets and value-for-money passes (e.g. 1-day and 3-day).
A new ticket has to be validated at the beginning of each journey, and this is done by inserting it into the slot in the small red box situated at waist height near the doors of buses, trolleybuses, trams and HÉV trains. Please note, on the Underground system these boxes are in the stations at the escalator.
There are lots of ticket inspectors: some are uniformed and others plain-clothed, but they always wear a red armband and carry a photographic identification badge. They can ask to see tickets and passes on any vehicle and anywhere on the Underground system, including after you have got off – so please remember to validate your ticket and keep hold of it!

Taxis in BudapestTaxis in Budapest
Budapest taxis have yellow number plates and a taxi sign in yellow. Any vehicle without these features is operating illegally. The total charge that has to be paid by the passenger is made up of three separate parts: the basic charge which is irrespective of how far the journey is (max HUF 300 during the day, max
HUF 420 at night), a per kilometre charge which depends on how many kilometres are covered during the journey (max HUF 240 per kilometre during the day, max HUF 336 at night), and the waiting charge.
Tariffs are clearly displayed on the rear right door and on the dashboard. The larger taxi companies work with rates far lower than the maximum charges listed above. Ask for assistance from your hotel reception when ordering a taxi, and think twice before taking the “impartial advice” of taxi drivers if you are looking for a bar or nightclub.
When booking taxis from the SYMA Exhibition Hall, we recommend using:
- City Taxi: +36 2-111-111
- Fo Taxi: +36 2-222-222
All cars must have a taximeter installed, and these also print out a receipt. Taxi drivers are required to give an invoice on request. Tipping: in general 10% of the fare.

Transport from the airport
Shuttle bus
There is a shuttle service available at Budapest Airport, called Airport Minibusz. Operating 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, with a boarding capacity of 8 to 10 passengers, these minibuses handle transfers from the airport to the city centre.
Reservations can be made personally at the Airport Shuttle Desk – located at every terminal.
Transfer fees from the Airport to any point of Budapest or from anywhere in Budapest to the Airport:
HUF 2990 / person / one way ticket
HUF 4990 / person / two way ticket
HUF 4490 / two persons
HUF 8490 / two persons / two way ticket
Passengers can easily reach central Budapest (Western Railway Station) from Ferihegy Terminal 1 in less than half an hour for 300 HUF (approximately 1€!). Arriving travelers can buy their tickets at Tourist Information at Terminal 1 from 09.00 to 22.00 or at Platform B at the railway station from the ticket vending machines.
The two platforms of the railway station are connected to the Airport Terminal by a short pedestrian footbridge.
A taxi to the centre of Budapest should cost between 22–25€ (4800-5400 HUF). To order a taxi, please contact Zona Taxis, the airport’s recommended taxi company: tel +36 1 365 55 55.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Poland, Travel Krakow

At first Krakow can seem a little dour, but dip into the cellar bars and low-beamed cafès and you find friendly people. Rynek glowny, the main square, is four times the size of Brussels’ Grand Place and just as stunning. It’s lined with cafès serving hot chocolate that is so incredibly thick you have to eat it with a spoon (for around £1.50, or seven zlotych). The exchange rate is £1 to 5.14 zlotych.

Krakow is about the only Polish city that wasn’t flattened in the Second World War and the streets of the Old Town are dotted with beautiful churches. Hire a bike from Two Wheels (ul Josefa 5, £4 for three hours), whizz down back streets and explore Kazimierz, the former Jewish quarter which is being restored.

For cheap eats seek out a “mild bar”. The former state-subsidized canteens still serve up traditional Polish meats, casserole and veg – at rock-bottom prices.

The Floryan has doubles from £75. Click here for other Hotels in Krakow.

Ryanair flies from Stansted to Krakow from £56 rtn.

The main square of Krakow, Poland.

Friday 5 March 2010

Travel in Riga, Latvia

The most elegant of the Baltic capitals, the Old Town lanes around Elizabetes Street are lines with stunning art nouveau architecture - just walking around feels like being in a museum. Stay with the architecture theme by visiting Riga’s cathedral - the biggest in the Baltics and home to one of the largest church organs in Europe. £1 will buy you approx 00.81 lati.

Riga is the kind of city that’s made for long walks punctuated by stops in cosy cafès for hot chocolate and wedges of cake. Fortunately there are plenty of these - try Emihla Gustava Shokolkade (Marijas 13) or Cadets de Gascogue (Basteja 8). Coffee and cake will set you back around £2. For something stronger, head to the Balsam Bar (Doma Laukams 2) where cocktails are made using the famous Latvian Black Balsam liqueur as a base.

The best bargains are to be found at the vast central market, where food and vegetables are sold inside four giant Zeppelin hangars, with a general market spread around outside.

The centrally located (and oddly named) Man-Tess hotel has comfortable doubles from £75 a night.

Ryanair flies from Stansted to Riga from £62 rtn. On Expedia you can book hotels, flights and car hire.

The old town of Riga, in Latvia.