A couple weeks ago, I decided to play tourist in my own city. I had seen photos of Elizabeth Tower and had wanted to go and see it for myself and explore its surrounding areas. The day was quite the adventure involving us using the cogwheel railway, taking the children’s railway, getting off too early and getting lost, before finally finding János hegy (Hungarian for hill). We hiked up the hill and made it to the top (it was tough!) and could see all of Budapest in front of us. We then hopped on a chairlift which took us down the mountain (you could also use this to go up).
I had visited the cogwheel railway previously during my company’s scavenger hunt, but hadn’t gone on it before. It was no different from any other type of transport, just louder and we were going uphill. Bits of the track only allowed for one car at a time, so it was slow going.
The Children’s Railway completely fascinated me. I know you’re thinking it – and I was at the time, but yes! The railway is run completely by children! I couldn’t stop watching these kids taking their job so seriously and enjoying it too! It seemed almost like a game to them. From purchasing their tickets, to blowing the whistle for the train to stamping our tickets as used – there were kids everywhere. There were adults around, but they mostly let the kids run the show. The children, aged between 10 – 14, have to go through a training process, completely with exams. Usually they are on duty every 15 days or so and in the case their duty day falls on a weekday, they are excused from school with permission.
We had great timing – the steam engine train was just about to go (it only runs a few times a day), so we quickly purchased our tickets and jumped on.
I was too excited to be on the railway and seeing all the kids hard at work. We managed to confuse the stop that we were suppose to get off at and we got off much too early. We started walking and ended up thoroughly lost. For some reason, I had forgotten to charge my phone, so I had no GPS. Thankfully we ran into a good Samaritan who was able to point us in the right direction before we got completely lost.
Our options was to either hike up (!!!) 3 km to the correct stop or try and convince the next train to let us on with our previous tickets. Thankfully, they were kind and let us on and told us when to get off. If you’re trying to go to the tower via a mini hike, the correct stop to get off at is János hegy, which, in the big scheme of things, makes a lot of sense, considering that was where we were trying to go.
János hegy is the highest point in Budapest, standing at 528m and I felt every meter on the way up. Quite the push up to the top, but the view was totally worth it. At the top of the hill stands Elizabeth Tower and before you is all of Budapest in miniature form.
The view from Elizabeth Tower. Makes me wish I had a better lens. Can you make out Parliament?
Going down the hill was perhaps the funniest part of the day. They had a chairlift going up and down, moving people. I knew there was something there to move people, but I never guessed it would have been a chairlift. Never had I ever taken a chairlift down a hill, nor have I ever taken a chairlift minus snow. It was the weirdest feeling ever! Not to mention, this chair lift went right about people’s houses and yards. You could see directly into people’s houses. Talk about awkward.
Being a tourist in your own city is fun. Made for an adventure without too much hassle (except for getting lost!). Many more items to cross off before I head back to Canada. Stay tuned!