Train trip to Budapest – Glasgow, London, Paris & Zurich – Part 3 – How are the trains / night train?

The Zurich to Budapest “old school” night train

We originally took the train (Scottish Sleeper) from Glasgow to London. I must say that this one has improved recently, with a massive investment for new rolling stock.

Equally, inside, the train was sleek and clean.

From there, after a two day stay in London (will blog later), we went with the train to Paris, with the “trainport” at St Pancras being similar to any airport departure lounge.

The Eurostar trip was incredibly fast, and after a little bit over two hours, we were there in Paris, at the Gare du Nord. The train was clean, spacious, and it was easy to find the restaurant car!

From here, after one night (will blog about this later), we used the TGV to go to Zurich (below). What a train! Extremely quick, with little to no noise. And there was even enough space for my bags (at least in my opinion!).

A mad dash in Paris, to get the TGV to Zurich

And man, did it fly! I can’t remember, but I thought it said its speed was something like 361kmph? Though the photo is slower.

Amazing. And plenty of enough space for baggage, though I must admit, I went First Class on this leg.

It was also no problem to have some food on the short journey of about 2+ hours. Also talked football with the kitchen staff (it was the World Cup afterall).

From there, we were in Zurich, but for only a short, two hour stay (more later). We boarded (below) the night train to Budapest. As above in the very first photo of this blog post, this train was from a time long ago; I loved it. I was only in Zurich for about 2 hours, but would like to return (below).

The train’s sleeping compartment was completely old school! There were actually 3 beds there, and the ceiling was quite high. In addition, they delivered us a small breakfast the next morning; tea / coffee and rolls. Which is what I expected.

I must say, it was rather a rough ride. I always sleep better sitting for some reason?

The beds were very comfortable and communication / attitude of the staff just fine. They spoke a strange German so it was not a problem to communicate, so I did not speak too much English. I wouldn’t think that this is a problem for the non-German speaker.

I can only say, that compared to the MUCH higher cost of going on the Orient Express; I preferred this!

CB

Musical End of Year Awards – Hanging Stars, Juniore & the Asteroid No. 4

I shouldn’t really do this, as there are just so many opinions on music; but here I go anyway.

The scene now is worse than ever, and until the “charts” are based back on sales, rather than streams, with the accompanying corrupt marketing campaigns, and utterly corrupt algorithms that the major streamers use, we’re fucked.

But here I go. . .

Album of the Year – The Hanging Stars; Hollow Heart

The Hanging Stars, once again put out a very listenable, neo-psych, country, pedal steel heavy masterpiece; probably their best yet. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly retro. As John Peel said years ago about The Fall, “always different, always the same”.

Single of the Year:

A tie! Between that horribly, irritating TUI advert song, that was in my head all year, and is undoubtedly older than 2022; Juniore, Ah bad d’accord

And the always listenable Asteroid No. 4, and their change of scene, into a female-based synth pop sound, with Set Your Sights:

CB

November Eurotrip Part 2 – Budapest again- The Gellért Thermal Bath

Amazing in all reality!

I’ve never really seen anything as opulent as this, with it NOT being a hotel, museum, or footballer’s mansion.

Yes, I’ve been to thermals /saunas before as they’re called in Germany, but this one had a key difference; you had to wear clothes! What a relief, and also it was completely indoors, as the outdoor pool was closed (It was freezing anyway.).

The baths from the outside

What must be said, is that we did this in a tourist, old-fashioned way – we had no towels and decided to go to the venue to buy tickets.

Please buy online, as the place can quickly become very busy (I believe that they limit customers at busy times of the day.). In addition, BRING YOUR OWN TOWELS! They do NOT rent them, so we had to buy two “deluxe” ones, at 30 euros each! What a rip-off!

Two more shots of the interior

Obviously, we have no pictures of the indoor pools, but there are plenty of those on the website links.

I will say, there was a very mellow vibe here, not a lot of noise, very respectful patrons and a lack of English speakers.

Final montage, note the “buy online” sign

Finally, there were families here, all ages, tourists, and everyone seemed to get on with each other. As for the price, I thought it was only about £10 to get in. We went there on a Tuesday afternoon, and there did not appear to be a time limit for your stay. Unlike this country, where a gang from the Stasi would inspect your ticket, and repeatedly warn you that you had to be “oot” at 3:30.

CB

This month, many old trips, just got back from Budapest and its New York Cafe

Lately I’ve been ill, tired, busy with other things, and watching far too much football – but now feel energised and will start to blog a wee bit more.

Last month, I had a week’s travel on some European trains, and ended up in Hungary. A place where I will go again. The above shot is, I believe, of a Budapest post box, or something along those lines? My Hungarian is not what it once was so I simply had no idea what the writing said!

Whilst there, with a “recommendation” from a friend, I just had to go to the New York Café. Really? The “New York Café” in Budapest (Ed; NOT Bucharest!). And even (above) after 9.00pm, there were still queues there. Apparently it’s the go to place in Budapest and I’ll show you what it looks like later in the month.

This month, I will definitely write of this recent trip to Europe, that saw us also in London and Paris (Why have I not been there for 30 years?) In addition, I still want to show some fotos from America, some places in Scotland, more from Germany and a voyage a month ago to Porto.

CB

Belfast, Northern Ireland – Part 1

ICC in Belfast

I’ve been to Belfast / NI, about a half a dozen times the last decade, for a variety of reasons; travel, golf, to see friends, etc, and each time it appears to be more vibrant, cosmo, livelier and “better” if one can use that word.

The Garrick

For today, I decided to have a walk around in the evening with my partner, and after leaving the ICC, we headed for a pub that we’ve been to before, The Garrick.

What a selection of beer, and a simply excellent, hearty menu. Ah tradition, I love it. Equally, there must have been an Erdinger bier promotion (both here and other places in Belfast), as the blau und weiss colours of Bavaria were everywhere.

From here, we had a stroll to Belfast City Hall, a hall that makes the one in Glasgow, look like a dump! I noted this to one of the very kind, security guards inside, and surprisingly, he told me that, that was the second time he had heard someone tell him that, on the day! Whilst inside, we naturally signed the condolence book(s) for Her Majesty, the Queen.

From here, again, we went to a familiar pub, and favourite of mine, The Crown Liquor Saloon, an antique of a bar owned by the National Trust.

A pub that always seems to have a decent pint of real ale on the menu. And equally, seems to always be packed with tourists.

Part 2 to follow, one can hardly wait!

CB

Month Ahead – Various past trips but also a recent one to Northern Ireland

Finally this month, with enough time, will return to blog about recent trips to Germany, America, London for Wimbledon and maybe a few more (Ed: Didn’t you just get back from St Andrews, Scotland, again?).

Belfast City Hall

But the last trip, was a quick 6 days to Northern Ireland, where I stayed in Belfast and had a day trip to the wonderful county of Armagh.

This was probably the sixth or seventh time the last 10 years for me to travel there. And I’ve always wondered just why, more people do not do the voyage? The flight was only about 25 minutes (!) from Glasgow – it literally takes off, and then sets down, stressing the ease of making the trip there.

And speaking of Ireland, both North and South, when back, I decided to go “Oirish” and buy a different type of porridge!

I’ve seen these Flahavan’s for some time, and felt that they would be too expensive when compared to the bog standard, dreadful things that usually come in a plastic sack.

Well, with the recent inflation, they aren’t any more and I can only say, that their “quick oats” design is a winner! In fact, you don’t even need a microwave, boiling water does just fine.

But talking about Northern Ireland, as usual, the people there were incredibly friendly, whether in Belfast or in the country and this week, will put several entries on Belfast, the Churches there, the Titanic Museum (where I had a wonderful dinner), and various things that I encountered there.

CB

Glasgow; various eateries; Nostrana & the Finnieston Fez

So I finally tried, after it was only open a few weeks, Nostrana, a new Italian place in Hyndland (just north of Soul Space in the link), Glasgow.

Nostrana, Hyndland, Glasgow

It was nice, very friendly service (my date spilled their coffee, and they were just SO helpful with them, even giving a new one FOC!), with food that at first seemed “small”, but was huge.

As usual, I felt that a normal dish would not be enough, wrong again! I ordered some bread, whilst the plus 1 chose their salad; both ample enough.

Well worth it, but no doubt during the winter, it’d be desirable to sit inside.

4/5

This brings us to the Finnieston Fez, located on the eastern edge of Finnieston, in the West End of Glasgow.

To be honest, this was a surprise, though I had walked past before and always had a hankering to sit in the window seat. I shall return.

While inside, I was literally the only one there (later there were more people and it became packed), and was confronted with several very lovely people. What a joy, they WANTED me to be there! Isn’t that a good feeling, that I never felt that I was intruding. There are MANY times, when I’ve gone to cafes, where the service was shocking, as in a “Why are you here?”. Well, it’s because “I’m a customer!”.

The menu is a Moroccan type of Mediterranean thing, and I opted for something simple – a Falafel Panini, and I just had to have the sweet, traditional, Moroccan tea – glad I did.

Traditional Tea

As for the Panini, it was flavourable and not overbearing. The tee-pee type of container contained slightly chillied olives.

I will return.

4/5

CB

Kelvingrove Bandstand Concerts this Summer, Glasgow

Once again, the adage about something being on your doorstep, that you don’t even know about.

Kelvingrove Park Bandstand, West End, Glasgow

Had a walk on the weekend around the West End of Glasgow, and after hearing some music coming from the park, had another walk on the Sunday, and came across the above concert series; and they even had a drinks van from West Brewery in Glasgow!

I have to admit, I didn’t know a thing about this, and thoroughly enjoyed the hour I was there, listening to brass bands, one from the University of Glasgow.

Glasgow University Brass Band Ensemble, Glasgow

I would say that at least the powers that be, who run Glasgow, are attempting to have something for everybody here. This was a very friendly, family-oriented event – more please.

It also it is good, to see this once, run-down venue, being used more and more these days, particularly with their summer series concerts (rock, pop, etc) taking place here the last few years.

Very pleasant.

CB

Euro Trip – A good idea from Germany – the 9 Euro Ticket

So I’m over there in Deutschland, and the partner says to me, “I’ve got you one of these 9 Euro tickets.”

“Ah, I’ve heard of these.”

Yes I have, due to the online job that I have, where I communicate daily with many Germans.

It’s an (was) interesting idea and one that gave even more benefits, besides just being able to use it on a train.

You could use it on buses, trams, underground systems(?), everything BUT the ICE trains in Germany. The ICEs are the Inter City Express trains, that are not only quicker than normal ones, but have a good deal fewer stops as well.

Not only that, but another huge benefit, was that it did NOT expire after you used it, but was valid for the entire month of August (I believe?).


Many of the trains / buses were packed, and some were not, so it was not a panacea; OTOH, it was just SO convenient to use, and no doubt the German authorities wanted to see just how much of the public transport their citizens would use for one month, if it was, in effect, free.

Why oh why don’t we at least TRY to do this here?

CB

Europe – Start of my last trip, Hull to Rotterdam via the Ferry.

Very comfy bed in a double room cabin

I have to admit, normally I prefer DFDS Ferries, but this slightly older P & O one was perfectly fine, though it was packed with families and their kids.

We had stayed the night before in York (blog soon!), and then caught the evening (early, almost missed it!) ferry to Rotterdam, from Hull. I prefer this, rather than going to Amsterdam, as I’ve always felt (perhaps wrongly) that it is easier to get out of Rotterdam.

And the room was plenty big enough, though it did not have a window. Not really bothered, as I was really only in the room to sleep and shower. Also, there was even a “desk”, though the Wi-Fi was simply too expensive to pay for; I believe it was 9 euros for 3 hours.

The partner in crime had the top bunk, whilst I took the bottom bed, and yes the pillows looked and were, not my cup of tea, but two of them together were just firm enough for a good night’s sleep.

And speaking of showering, it has always amazed me, just how much “kit” there is in one of these ferry’s bathrooms!

Complete, even with shower gel.

Next will be the road trip to the Black Forest.

CB