Off the rails and no rest un­til Bu­dapest

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

The Danube Ex­press speeds through at­trac­tive coun­try­side en route to Bu­dapest pa­per nap­kins. The food is fine but this is no place for the slim­mer or veg­e­tar­ian: each meal is good, big and hearty, Rus­sian-style, and tak­ing no pris­on­ers. The chef, Gus­tav, is as wide as the train.

I get lost in Bu­dapest, nat­u­rally. It is a very easy city to ne­go­ti­ate — every­one says so — and of course I have a map; enough said. Apart from the beauty of the sky­line by night, one is aware of two things: an acute graf­fiti prob­lem, and girls who ap­pear from nowhere of­fer­ing what I now know to be Thai mas­sage; at the time, though, I just look down at my tie and think, hmm, how very bizarre.

I buy some hand-em­broi­dered Hun­gar­ian peas­ant blouses for hardly more than twice what they cost in the next shop I come to. Peo­ple smile at me all the time, in pity, I am con­vinced. The Spec­ta­tor Joseph Con­nolly’s lat­est novel is

(Faber & Faber, $32.95).

Check­list

Danube Ex­press jour­neys start from Frankfurt, Bu­dapest or Is­tan­bul. Book­ings and hol­i­day pack­ages aboard the Danube Ex­press are avail­able from Aus­tralian op­er­a­tors such as Travel As­so­ci­ates. More: 1800 017 849; www.travel-as­so­ci­ates.com.au.

www.danube-ex­press.com

Train buff’s de­light:

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