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Trip Report London and Budapest with young children. Highlights.

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Ok. The trip to London and Hungary happened last October. I had every intention of writing a trip report but never got around to because (feel free to fill in your excuse here). Now that I am starting to plan another trip, I’m feeling awfully guilty for not writing the report since I got some great advices over the years from this forum. So instead of waiting another year for the trip report, I’m going to high light a few things and call it a report.

Little background:
We are a family of 4. The two kids are now 6 and 2. The older one has been a dream traveler ever since she was a year old. The younger one can never settle down and hates to be buckled into a seat.

We flew from SFO to LHR. Spent 3 days in London. Then LGW to BUD, spent 12 days in Budapest. BUD back to LGW and took the national express bus to LHR. Spent the night near LHR and flew back to SFO.

Even after reading the posts on Fodor, we decided to take on flying in and out from different airport. We booked Easy Jet flights to BUD from LGW because it was significantly cheaper than the Malev flights out of LHR. DH wanted to spend as much time as possible with family in Budapest so we took a late afternoon flight from BUD to LGW and we had to get from LGW to LHR to catch our flight home the next morning. National express bus was nice enough and since it was very late, we didn’t have any traffic issues. The only problems were the 2 very cranky kids who just got off the plane after a long day and didn’t feel like sitting on a bus any more. Note to other families with young children: try to avoid transferring between LGW and LHR on the same day if possible.

We stayed at Luna Simone Hotel. The room was nothing fancy but clean. The narrow stairs were a little bit of a challenge when we had to carry the stroller with the sleeping toddler up and down. The front desk people were nice, and the location is great. We loved the parks in London. There were so many. Before the trip, everyone picked 1 thing s/he wanted to do and agreed that everything else is just icing on the cake. So we hit the Tower of London, the London eye, Kensington Palace and changing of the guards and spent the other times picnicking in the parks and walking among the different neighborhoods. We took the tube and the bus when it wasn’t rush hour. Everyone had a great time even though we didn’t see much of the main tourist sites.

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    We have family in Budapest so we’ve been there many times. On this trip, we booked an apartment on Budpestlets.com. We decided on Raday 40 but it wasn’t available for the entire stay so the owner emailed us and offered to book us the Krudy Utca 14 apartment for 2 nights, gave us a discount and told us that the management will help us transfer to the Raday 40 apartment for the remaining nights. We agreed. The owner told us to arrange the transfer with the manager. I emailed her and everything seemed settled. When we arrived, the manager was late to meet us at the apartment to give us the key. When I asked about the transfer, she looked at me blankly as if she didn’t know what I was talking about. When I reminded her that the owner had offered this service, she said, yes she can arrange for someone with a car to meet us and take our luggage to the other apartment for a cost. We decided it’s not worth the trouble of arguing or the price to hire the car and told her we’ll take care of it ourselves. The two apartments aren’t that far from each other. A hassle with kids in towe but we got help from the family so it was fine.

    Location wise, these apartments were great. They were clean. The Krudy Utca 14 apartment is a studio decorated Ikea style. The wooden floor squeaked. My older child made it a sport to check every plank and yes they all squeaked.

    The Raday 40 apartment is a fairly large sized place. It had 2 separate bedrooms on opposite wings and a large living room. When we got there, there was a funny smell and the manager said it was due to the wet linens drying inside since the other occupant just moved out. The smell was still very strong the next day. We found out that it was coming from the floor drain in the bathroom adjoining one of the bedrooms. We called the manager and were told to run the water for a while to flush out the drain and the smell will go away. We did that for a long while. The smell was intrusive enough that even with the bathroom door closed, the smell was not tolerable in the adjoining bedroom. Luckily, the other room was fairly large and had a separate futon. So we had the kids sleep on the futon in the room with us. We opened all the windows while we were in the apartment and shut the door to the stinky bedroom. We called the manager again. (By the way, each time we called, we had to leave a message and wait for her to call back.) Her solution was to tell us to run the water in the sink and shower longer everyday and give it a couple of days. We waited 2 more days and called again. This time, she didn’t call back until a couple of days later, told us she’ll have someone come and take a look. By the time she called back to tell us she can get someone to come in and plug the drain in that bathroom, we only had 2 more days left at the place. Since we were out of the apartment most of the time, we told her not to bother.

    Aside from the offensive smell that turned the apartment into a 1 bedroom place, the Raday 40 apartment is a good place. There are lots of restaurants, bakery, and grocery store nearby. It’s also close to transportation. It’s on the top floor of a 4 story building so it was a hike to get up there when we were carrying the toddler, the stroller, and bags of midnight snacks from the relatives. Before leaving, I happened to read the entries in the guest book in the apartment. Turns out the previous occupant had the same problem with the smell. Folks might want to double check to make sure it’s fixed before booking with them.

    While in Budapest, we had use of one of the relative’s cars and we were able to find a place that rented out car seats.
    Mini Mano Babacentrum
    1149 Budapest,
    Nagy Lajos kiraly Utja 112.
    Tel.: +36 1 251 31 26
    E-mail: minimano@minimano.hu
    Open: Monday-Saturday 10-18h

    The top 3 highlights on this trip (aside from quality time with the relatives and the best desserts) were:

    Margitsziget where the kids played hide and seek among the old convent ruins, riding the kid size surrey bike, and playing among the fall leaves,

    Holloko where we happened to visit on the day of their festival and got treated to a parade of people in beautiful folk clothing and sampled freshly pressed grape juice,

    Tihany for the scenery and reed roofs.

    In sum: had some bumps on the road but overall a fine trip.

    Ok, now my conscience is cleared and on to the next trip planning.

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    Good concise and helpful report. Hope your net trip will go well. What wonderful memories your children will have! Imagine them grown up and sitting around reminiscing about checking out floor squeaks and smelly drains!

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