The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

THERE I S s o me­thing both com­fort­ably fa­mil­iar and ap­peal­ingly e x o t i c a b o u t Bu­dapest. Wan­der the par­lia­men­tary area, whose build­ings were in­spired by West­min­ster, the high-end shop­ping malls that show­case global brands and some of the many mu­se­ums, and you will feel to­tally at home.

Take in the view from the Danube — which di­vides the Buda and Pest parts of the city — the Jewish quar­ter with its shuls, street food, restau­rants and ruin pubs, sited in crum­bling aban­doned build­ings that come alive at night, and the tourist ex­pe­ri­ence be­comes rich with East­ern prom­ise.

The lat­ter is ev­i­dent on our first morn­ing. Hav­ing fi­nally prised our 24-hour trans­port passes (around £4 each) from an an­noy­ingly re­cal­ci­trant FLY Wizz Air from Lu­ton to Bu­dapest, re­turn fares from £85. wiz­ STAY Corinthia Ho­tel;­tels/bu­dapest Room rates from ¤169, in­clud­ing break­fast but not taxes. SIGHTSEEINGThe Hun­gar­ian Tourism web­site of­fers a va­ri­ety of sug­ges­tions on how to spend your time in Bu­dapest. http://uk.go­to­hun­ ticket ma­chine, we step back in time on the Metro line 1, the first in con­ti­nen­tal Europe when opened in 1896 and, in terms of sta­tion interiors, still look­ing the part.

The line is recog­nised as a World Her­itage Site by Unesco and such is the by­gone vibe that you are lit­er­ally trans­ported into an­other age. You can also use your trans­port card to take the num­ber two tram along the Danube, on a route con­sid­ered the most scenic in Europe by Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, tak­ing in some of the most ar­rest­ing sights of the city.

And if on foot, many of the key at­trac­tions are within less than an hour’s saun­ter­ing ra­dius. If only for panorama, you’ll want to seek out the higher ground of the his­toric Cas­tle area — and on week­ends it’s quicker to walk up than join the queues for the fu­nic­u­lar that takes you there. For a scenic noc­tur­nal stroll, take one of the bridges link­ing Buda and Pest.

One such walk ended up with a wan­der around the Gellert ho­tel and spa, a lo­cal land­mark con­jur­ing up vi­sions of a more gen­teel era and whose heal­ing wa­ters date from the 13th cen­tury.

A sense of history is also en­gen­dered by the his­toric Café Ger­beaud cof­fee house, on the doorstep of the fi­nal sta­tion on Metro line 1, Voros­marty ter.

De­vel­oped by pi­o­neer­ing con­fec­tioner Emil Ger­beaud, its time­less fur­nish­ings and chan­de­liers are the per­fect back­drop to a leisurely hot drink and yummy cake. In my case it was Emil Ger­beaud’s Legacy, a chocolate dessert flavoured with cognac cher­ries

The Danube as dusk falls over the Jewish quar­ter, and (right), the im­pos­ing Byzan­tine-Moorish-style Great

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