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20060829_P_0120 diary pic
Chilling out in style at the Danube Bend

Another slow start. Whilst it’s nice to take it easy, it’s also a little frustrating that we find it so hard to get going in the mornings. Not that we’re in a rush to go out and “sightsee”, but we’re feeling a little low on energy, and that together with the small accumulation of a few errands (emails to send, pictures, diary – I’m permanently catching up, laundry, etc.) mean that we’re in need of a “down day”.

Rather than have it here, staying in an expensive hotel and with no “space” around us, we decided instead to drive the short distance north to the Danube bend and to stop there. The original plan had been to simply take a look at this part of the country and then continue on to Eger.

It was a good call. By now we both knew well enough when it was time take a break like this and recharge the batteries. So, we had breakfast and then headed out of Budapest, north, and drove to the little place of Visegrád. The hotel made a booking for us at the Silvanus hotel which had nice views over the Danube. It took a while to leave the built-up city area of Budapest behind, and even then you didn’t really get into countryside as such, just slightly rural/provincial parts, but it was still too close to the capital, which I hadn’t realised is actually one of the biggest cities in Europe (6th I think).

It only took us about an hour to reach Visegrád, a tiny little sleepy village on the southern/western bank of the Danube, situated at the “elbow” of the river, i.e. Danube bend, in super-scenic surroundings, with tall tree-covered hills on either side of the wide river. We stopped at a small mini-market to stock up on some supplies for an afternoon in: juice, biscuits, cheese, salami, etc. There were a few locals and that seemed to be it – no hordes of day trippers, and barely a few tourists. We had the place to ourselves. Our hotel was a bit out of town, on the hill behind it, poised at the best place for views over the Danube bend from high above. The Silvanus, as the name implied, was set among the trees. It was a modern-looking resort style hotel. Well, modern… On closer inspection it was actually quite dated, in that same category as the Cracovia but not so grand, and some of the hotels we have stayed at in Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. In other words, in a little time-warp. Bukit Fraser is another one that springs to mind. But it had started to be modernised and works were being carried out on the grounds.

From our room we had a stunning view of the Danube. A balcony with deck chairs and a table and chairs, an orange awning and flower boxes. The room was small, like the boxes at the Cracovia, and had a “sealed” bathroom, plastic panelling, but it was perfect for us. It was pretty windy up here, and the weather was variable, cloudy, the sun trying to poke through. We did exactly what we had promised ourselves earlier and chilled for the afternoon, reading, writing and just generally relaxing. The trip and sights were on hold for a little while. Later we headed downstairs for more relaxation at the “wellness” centre which was beckoning. There were several rooms arranged round an ornate marble-tiled oval room: a steam room, nice and hot, and we also tried the aromatherapy room, with walls hung thickly with herbs, and the salt room, its walls covered with flecks of salt. And a soak in the pool and Jacuzzi of course. After a prolonged session we felt super and toddled back to our room, wearing our hotel bathrobes, which were rather smaller than the ones from the Bratislava Crowne Plaza!

In the evening we came downstairs for the buffet-style dinner. There were a few people around but on the whole it just felt very empty and off-season. Anyway, we had a tasty dinner and then headed back to our room, and enjoyed the fantastic views from our balcony – and stars, stars, stars! Below us the Danube shimmered. It was a magical spot. The couple in the room next to us had brought their duvets out and were cuddled up on their deck chairs. What a great day. Despite having planned to have “nothing” day we somehow have still seen lots, and had a relaxing time doing it. Great!