I took a quick trip on my own to Budapest on a cold weekend (I think the airfare was less than $100) and on a recommendation stayed at the Hotel Gellert. The hotel was designed in an Art Nouveau style and connected to a spa. So first thing Saturday morning I headed to the spa…it was world famous and the was fed directly by hot springs. First step was a massage which consisted to get your entire body slapped by a big guy. Second step was to jump in the cold pool – it was pretty much torture. The third step was a lukewarm pool with no jets…but at least it wasn’t painful.
Did the hop on / hop off bus tour for the rest of the day, hitting the main slights of parliament, Chain Bridge Szechenyi Square, and the Citadel. Took the tour at parliament and by the time the bus got to the Citadel it was pretty late (the bus ran later than I had seen in other cities) which was close to my hotel. After a quick bite, I took the tram and walked across the Chain Bridge back to Pest and visited a couple of pubs on the way to the casino. Won quite a bit at the casino and took a taxi back.
On the bus tour, the guide on the bus mentioned a park which had all the Soviet era monuments but they had no official trips there. But he would be happy to give me a private tour. Memento Park is where communist statues go do die. He picked me up early the next day and he was only a couple of years younger than I was (thus a teenager when the wall fell) and very interesting to talk to as we went through the monuments. He and his friends were always very pro-USA growing up so once the opening came, most everyone embraced it.
(This was written during the Great Shutdown of 2020. My memory isn’t this good, used internet searches to fill in a lot of holes. If there’s huge fat foot below me, it not my fault – that an advertisement I can’t control).