Rolling on the River

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Budapest shows up on most lists of affordable cities in Europe, with good reason. For the three essentials, food, clothing and shelter, prices in Hungary are almost shockingly low, as long as you aren’t wandering away from your Four Seasons hotel room in your “Budapest Drinking Team” t-shirt looking for “the best steak in town.”

If you add a fourth necessity, transportation, to the list, Budapest looks even better. As we don’t have a car here, we depend on the transit system to get us around, and other than the occasional challenge when trying to connect with suburbanites, we don’t regret it a bit. (We made up for lost time this past summer back in the States, driving over 16,000 miles from sea to shining sea.) The quarterly pass we buy actually covers 100 days, making our daily cost of travel 315 HUF apiece. So for under $3 per day total, we can go everywhere the BKV takes us — by bus, tram, trolley, subway… and in today’s installment, boat!

Included in our transit pass is the ability to ride the BKV’s two passenger ferry routes up and down the Danube River, spanning six of the seven bridges linking Buda and Pest.  There are a couple of catches — it’s only free to pass holders during the work week, and the boats cease operation during the winter months. So on this beautiful still-summer Thursday, we decided to take our maiden voyage. It’s definitely more for pleasure than for efficiency, although we noted that in a couple of specific routings, the boat might actually save us a few minutes. Not being an experienced river hand, I was interested to see that whether the boat was headed north or south, it always turned to come into each dock stop from downstream, which makes sense once you think about it, but had us both double-checking the signage to make sure we were on the right boat headed in the right direction.

Which is always a good idea.

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