Just back from Budapest – my photo diary

I’m recovering of a whirlwind long weekend in Budapest – my motto is that if you only have a short time to enjoy a destination, pack in the fun and have a rest when you get back home! A big thanks goes to Avios who took me out to Budapest for a long weekend where I had a family reunion staying in the luxurious Intercontinental Budapest with my parents and two sisters.

View of Budapest from Castle Hill Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of Budapest from Castle Hill

I kept a photo diary over the weekend on Instagram which you can see below and if you hover over each photo you’ll see my comments as the weekend unfolded. Follow me on Instagram

[instapress tag=”hohtbudapest” piccount=”44″ size=”185″ effect=”fancybox” title=”1″ paging=”1″]

I’ll be bringing you more articles about the things we enjoyed very soon, but the highlights were;

  • Flying Club Class on British Airways thanks to Avios, when we really enjoyed our English breakfast on proper china on the way out and mini-bottle of champagne on the way back. My mother and I were properly spoiled by the extra space, leg-room and personal attention.
  • Our walk around the Castle District (and no we didn’t take the funicular but walked all the way up). The view from the Fisherman’s Bastion is well worth the climb, as is the fine selection of cakes and marzipan sweets (don’t get me started on marzipan) at the cosy Ruzwurm Cukrászda where we had coffee near the Matthius Church.
  • The number 2 or 2a tram from right outside the Intercontinental Hotel gives you a budget sightseeing tour right along the river with views of the Danube. In one direction you’ll arrive at the Central Market and Gellert Baths, in the other you will pass the Hungarian Parliament Building and stop at Margaret Island which is a lovely place for a stroll in summer. Buy your tickets for 350 HUF (around £1) each at local convenience stores and don’t forget to validate them in the machines on the tram.
  • A soporific afternoon at the Gellért Spa Baths, where there’s an art nouveau swimming pool but we spent all our time in the decoratively tiled Turkish hot baths on either side, and alternated the steam room with a dip in the freezing plunge pool to keep us awake. Perfect to warm you to the core on cold winter days.
  • The view of the Danube from our room at the Intercontinental Budapest – one of the times when it really is worth paying a little extra for a room with a view, as the landmarks of Budapest unfold before you and the comings and goings on the river provide endless interest – where was that huge barge loaded with cars going?
  • Fantastic Hungarian food at affordable prices – we went cosy and traditional at the Reteshaz Strudel House, Hip and trendy at Menza and over the top rococo with gilt mirrors, chandeliers and tinkling piano at the New York Cafe.

Stay tuned for more stories from our trip with Avios to Budapest…..

The Intercontinental Hotel Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Intercontinental Hotel Budapest

Read more tales about Budapest

If it’s Friday it must be …. a weekend in Budapest with Avios
Langos and other street food in Hungary
The Top 10 sights in Budapest with the help of the Eyewitness guide

More about Avios

AviosAvios is an easy way to collect points at the places you shop everyday, at online stores, while grocery shopping, when you buy your fuel and when you spend on your credit card. Then convert the points into a flight, hotel, holiday or just a fun day out with your family. There’s plenty of inspiration on the Avios website to start planning your dream gettaway. Become a member of Avios and you can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel

Through Avios we booked the luxurious 5 star Intercontinental Hotel Budapest which was perfectly positioned beside the Danube for sightseeing. It’s definitely worth booking a room with a view of the Danube from where you can see all the sights of Budapest before you and the hotel also has a lovely spa with a pool for those morning swims as well as relaxing treatments. The hotel can be booked using your Avios Points and a room similar to ours at the time that we were there in February was around 15,000 Avios points or £150-180 per room/night including breakfast but may be higher in peak season. It’s worth looking out for packages that include breakfast and use of the exclusive Club Lounge. You can follow the Intercontinental Budapest on Twitter @ICBudapest and on their Intercontinental Budapest Facebook Page.

My thanks to Avios and Intercontinental Budapest for hosting me on this trip.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

If it’s Friday it must be….a weekend in Budapest with Avios

If it’s Friday it must be …. Budapest? I’m lucky to live close enough to Heathrow Airport to escape for a weekend break and a change of scene as the fancy takes me. Somewhere like Budapest, for instance, where the kind folks at Avios are sending me for a three day break. I was last there in August 2010, when I spent a week in Hungary with the family, exploring the sights of Budapest and relaxing further south, near Lake Balaton. The couple of days in Budapest at the beginning and end of that trip wasn’t nearly long enough and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. On my last visit, it was the humid days of summer and thunderstorms, now I’ll be seeing a more chilly face of Budapest, but I have my reasons. My niece is currently working in Budapest, so that’s a good enough excuse for me to visit her, with my parents and sisters, for something of a family gathering, hoping that we’ll get the benefit of a local’s insider knowledge.

View from the Fisherman's Bastion on our last trip to Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View from the Fisherman’s Bastion on our last trip to Budapest

Did I mention that this trip is kindly being provided by Avios? You’ll remember them from the old Air Miles days, but since British Airways merged with Iberia Airlines, the scheme has been reborn as Avios and broadened to include loads of different ways to both collect points and spend them on fun trips with friends and family. Although I’ll be flying with British Airways from London to Budapest, you can also use your Avios points to book flights with many airlines, such as Iberia, Air Malta, American Airlines, Aurigny, Flybe and Monarch. I defy you not to find somewhere you’d like to visit on one of their flight schedules.

Since planning our weekend break in Budapest with Avios, I’ve had a good look around the website and was surprised at the number of ways that you can accumulate Avios points to spend later on a fun trip. I realised that I’ve been missing out on an opportunity to collect points, just by shopping at stores that I already use. Now I’m kicking myself that I could have been collecting Avios points while I bought my holiday wardrobe at Boden, my kid’s school uniform at M & S, doing my weekly online shop at Tesco, or by using the credit card from Lloyds TSB who I already bank with. Now I’m an Avios member I’m planning to be collect points at all my favourite brands when I shop, and make a quick check of the places that offer Avios points before I make any major purchases.

The Chain Bridge in Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Chain Bridge in Budapest

If you need any further inspiration, have a play with the Avios calculator where you can estimate how many points you could collect through your weekly shop, by filling up the car or shopping online. The website has plenty more ideas on ways to spend your Avios points on flights, hotels and other travel experiences. If your points won’t quite stretch to that dream trip, you can top up with cash, so there’s plenty of flexibility. I love the new Avios micro-site where you can decide where you’d like to go and then check how long it would take you to accumulate the points, depending on your own spending habits.

The Avios website was also very user friendly when it came to choosing a hotel for our stay in Budapest. You can narrow down your choice by filtering on star rating, facilities or points and then check the location easily on the map view or read Tripadvisor reviews direct from the Avios site. On such a short trip, I wanted to be close to the main sites on both sides of the river  and eventually decided on the Intercontinental Budapest, a classic, luxury hotel that overlooks the Danube.

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest

So what are we hoping to see in Budapest? Perhaps a return visit to the picturesque castle district, where the gypsy violinists seranaded us last time at the top of the Fisherman’s Bastion. From there it’s a great view over to the Hungarian Parliament Building on the other side although it might be a bit chilly to sit at the top in the outdoor cafe. I might pop in to the Matthius Church with the colourful roof tiles and interiors and visit some of the museums that I didn’t get the chance to visit last time.

The Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest

Although we visited other spas such as the thermal lake at Heviz on our last trip, I didn’t have time to visit any of the classic Budapest thermal baths, like the Gellert or the Szechenyi Baths, so they’re definitely on the list. Spas in Hungary are much more about health and wellbeing than beauty and are a really local experience for all ages and incomes. Apart from that our itinerary is relaxed, but my niece has booked us some great local restaurants that she knows so I hope that I’ll be reporting back on delicious Hungarian dishes.

Stay tuned to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with weekend for live commentary of everything that we enjoy in Budapest and thanks to Avios for making the trip possible. I’ll be using hashtag #HOHTBudapest

Read about our last trip to Hungary and Budapest

Memento Park – Icons of Budapest’s Communist past
The Festetics Palace and Marzipan museum in Keszthely
Boot slapping, skirt twirling, Hungarian Folk dancing – video

AviosMore about Avios
Avios is an easy way to collect points at the places you shop everyday, at online stores, while grocery shopping, when you buy your fuel and when you spend on your credit card. Then convert the points into a flight, hotel, holiday or just a fun day out with your family. There’s plenty of inspiration on the Avios website to start planning your dream gettaway. Become a member of Avios and you can follow Avios on Twitter @AviosUK or on their AviosUK Facebook page and see some flying lawnmowers on the Avios YouTube channel


heatheronhertravels' Budapest - around Budapest photoset heatheronhertravels’ Budapest – around Budapest photoset

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Where Heather will be travelling in Spring 2013?

With 2012 behind us it’s time to look forward to exciting travel plans for 2013 – doesn’t everyone like to have something to look forward to? I want to share with you where I’ll be heading this spring and if you’ve visited these destinations and have any tips for me I’d love to hear from you.

Children are given new clothes in India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Children are given new clothes in India

January – A charity visit to Andhra Pradesh, India

What’s it all about? Through my local church I have connections with a rural parish near Kurnool, India and am trustee of a charity to support the education of children and other community projects there. My last visit to India for this charity was a few years ago when I spent a few days in a rural Indian village, meeting sponsored children, visiting a school and orphanage and visiting the stone quarries where many of the local people work, and I’m expecting that this visit will be very similar. Read about my experience Meeting my Indian sponsor child on my last visit.

What my travel plans? I’ll be flying in and out of Hyderabad where my hotel at Mercure Abids has been kindly provided by AsiaRooms.com, before driving up to Kurnool where I’ll be based while visiting the local villages where different families, schools and community projects are being supported. I’ll be travelling with another couple who are involved with the charity and we’ll return from Kurnool to Hyderabad by train which I’m expecting will be an experience in itself.

What am I hoping for? A bit of shopping for fun jewellery (I love my dangly earings) and cool Indian clothes, maybe some textiles or gifts in Hyderabad; Meeting the young girl and her family that I personally sponsor; Staying a night in the village with an Indian family to feel what it’s like to live on £1 a day; Seeing how the goats, mango trees, wells and community centres that our charity has helped support are helping the community.

Prince Hall Hotel, Dartmoor Photos: Princehall.co.uk

Prince Hall Hotel, Dartmoor

January – A Country House Hotel break on Dartmoor, Devon

What’s it all about? My husband absolutely loves Dartmoor and we were there in August with my teenage son and some of his friends. On our walks across Dartmoor we spotted the Prince Hall Hotel that is within the Dartmoor National Park and I’ll be spending a weekend there with my husband. Read about our last Wild and Wet adventure weekend on Dartmoor.

What are my travel plans? It’s an easy drive down from Bristol to Dartmoor for the weekend and we hope to meet up with some friends who live locally as well as enjoying some walking and other activities on Dartmoor.

What am I hoping for? Good local food, roaring log fires, time to relax with my husband, bracing walks on the moor and adding a few Tors to our collection. We’ve arranged to do a bit of Nordic walking on Dartmoor which I’m hoping will leave us both feeling fit and healthy after the Christmas season.

The Chain Bridge, Budapest Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Chain Bridge, Budapest

February – a long weekend in Budapest

What’s it all about? I visited Budapest with my family in 2010 as part of a week’s holiday and loved the city which has both wide 19th century boulevards and medieval cobbled streets. As my niece is currently working in Budapest it seemed a great opportunity to pay a return visit with my parents to explore a bit more of the city. Listen to our Hungary holiday podcast, covering Budapest and Laka Balaton.

What are my travel plans? I’ll be there for a long weekend, hosted by Avios (previously Airmiles) where you can use points collected when you shop to fund flights, hotels and other travel services. We’ll be flying British Airways from London Heathrow and staying at the Intercontinental Hotel Budapest, an elegant, 5 star hotel overlooking the Danube. We’ll be exploring some of the sights on both sides of the river and discovering any local haunts that my niece can lead us to.

What am I hoping for? An interesting dynamic from spending time with different generations of my family, a visit to one of the famous Hungarian baths which I didn’t have time for on my previous visit, to find the restaurants where the locals rather than the tourist go that my niece can recommend, perhaps to learn a bit of Hungarian dancing (I hear it’s a rather cool thing to do these days).

Taghazout in Morocco Photo: Vincentraal on Flickr

Taghazout in Morocco

April – Pretending I’m a surf chick in Morocco

What’s it all about? As my children are now old enough to travel independently and would rather be with their friends than their parents, I have to be a little devious when it comes to family holidays. My oldest son has taken to surfing in a big way, since he went to university in Wales, so when I heard that Taghazout in Morocco is a mecca for surfers, I decided it would be the perfect place for us to go for a family break over Easter.

What are my travel plans? We fly to Agadir and pick up a hire car, then drive up the coast to Taghazout where we’ll be renting an apartment by the beach. I’m not optimistic that I’ll be any good at the surfing, so I may stick to the yoga, but I’ve heard that there are a few interesting things to see nearby such as Paradise Valley where there are waterfalls and pools to swim in.

What am I hoping for? A laid back Moroccan vibe and youthful atmosphere that my teenage kids will enjoy, to get up on a surf board at least once in the trip, to try out some yoga and flex out those muscles that are stiff from sitting over a computer, to enjoy some delicious local Moroccan food and eat out every night without spending a fortune.

Rhine River cruise Photo: Lüftner Cruises

May – A European River cruise with my husband on the Rhine

What’s it all about? My husband has been telling me he’d like to try a river cruise and as his wish is my command, I’ve arranged for us to join a cruise on the Rhine with Lüftner Cruises. A few years ago I’d have mentally marked this as the kind of trip that my parents would enjoy and that I’d find rather tame, but as time passes I’m finding the idea of  seeing a lot of interesting places in comfort rather attractive.

What are my travel plans? We fly to Basel in Switzerland where we join our ship, the Amadeus Princess and over the next few days will stop at Strasbourg with excursions to visit the Alsace wine region, Speyer, Mannheim, Ruedesheim, Koblenz, Cochem and will disembark in Cologne to fly back to the UK.

What am I hoping for? An introduction to the whole river cruising experience, beautiful views of the castles and towns along the banks of the Rhine, great food and wine both on board and as part of some of the excursions, interesting sightseeing in the towns and cities that we visit on the cruise, to see a lot of different places while only having to unpack once and the chance to relax with my husband.

I’m really excited about all of my travel plans and am expecting that each of them will bring a different kind of enjoyment and experience. I hope you’ll follow along with me as I share these travel experiences on the blog, through videos and podcasts to bring you the sights and sounds of my experience and on my Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels.

If you have visited any of the places I’ve mentioned, please do leave me any tips that you have in the comments, I’m waiting to hear from you …..

Photo credits: Prince Hall Hotel by PrinceHall.co.uk, Taghazout by Vincentraal, Rhine River cruise by Lüftner Cruises, other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

Disclosure: Some but by no means all elements of the trips I have planned are being hosted by the companies mentioned in this article.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

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