TDE2017 – Day 6: Hotel Intercontinental to the rescue!

Sun streaming into our room wakes us this morning and we enjoy a beautiful view of Balaton lake.

Being woken by the sun is nice

Being woken by the sun is nice

Our breakfast remains in true style of this hotel’s left-over soviet groove: Both my daughter and I don’t feel like eating anything from the warm buffet – both the moltofil-like scrambled eggs and the barely fried bacon seem to be comfortable in their puddle of fat – I’ll spare you the description of the other things on offer. The whole breakfast process reminded me of my last experience with post-soviet breakfasting.

I had some (exceptionally tasty) cold-cuts and patΓ© with some crispy and fresh bread-rolls and was ready to go.

Back to the room and ready to check-out, I was able to take a picture that sums up everything needing attention in this hotel:

The sum of what is wrong in this hotel

The sum of what is wrong with this hotel

Since we want to have some time in Budapest, we decide to drive the roughly 190km to Budapest on the motorway. Hungary has, as many other European countries, adopted a motorway toll system which is based on a time-based fee… with a difference. Other countries, such as Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic etc. have opted for a physical sticker which is placed behind the windscreen and shows if someone has paid the toll fee. Hungary however, seems to have (cleverly) combined a few technologies and infrastructure to offer a sticker-less toll-system: e-vignette.

Every 10km or so there are cameras for every lane with automatic number plate recognition. This is why you have to register your vehicle’s plate number when buying an e-vignette.

These cameras serve two purposes: Any car without a valid e-vignette is automatically detected and fines sent out. The regular intervals enforce an average speed limit which makes speeding uninteresting for anyone, since one won’t be able to get faster to the final destination by driving faster.

No nasty stickers anymore!

No nasty stickers anymore!

With this out-of-the-way – we’re ready to enter Hungary’s motorways and drive to Budapest.

We start our 190 km trip to Budapest

We start our 190 km trip to Budapest

An hour into our drive, we decide to pull over at a service station and get something to drink – I just love the local energy drink brands: see for yourself!

How about some (classic!) HELL before a good night?

How about some (classic!) HELL before a good night?

I had some classic HELL – tasty! πŸ˜€

Just many (nearly) flat kilometres to Budapest

Just many (nearly) flat kilometres to Budapest

We spend most of our time waving back at people giving us the thumbs-up or waving excitedly. This part of TWIKEing is the best … if you like the attention, that is πŸ™‚

We're nearly there

We’re nearly there

We enter Budapest, a city I visited the first time 25 years ago and have been back to business-wise during recent years.

Arriving in Budapest

Arriving in Budapest

Midday traffic is heavy – it takes us more than half-an-hour to get to our aparthotel. Having arrived there, we are shown our parking space in the subterranean parking that belongs to the building. One thing is immediately clear – my request for a plug will certainly not be able to be fulfilled here – all 3 levels are completely devoid of any plugs…even with my ninja-style creative charging strategies. I am amazed that buildings are still being built without any consideration for electric mobility!

The hotel’s (young) staff understood immediately and let me connect two phases to their office with me promising to take the vehicle back down to the garage as soon as the charge has been completed – hence the two phases with which TW560 will be able to fully charge in about 4 hours.

It could have been so easy...

It could have been so easy…

30 minutes into the charge, whilst on my way to the city center, I get a call from the front desk. The owner of the building is completely against using the plugs for charging a vehicle and very much against me parking in front of the building. If the TWIKE isn’t gone within 30 minutes, he will call the police to have it forcefully removed. πŸ™

Slightly annoyed, I rush back to the hotel and disconnect the TWIKE and fire up the LEMNet App and see some RWE charging stations nearby. Even though I usually absolutely avoid these kinds of charging stations (price, convenience and above all: access), in this situation I consider them, since without a fully charged TWIKE, we’re going nowhere tomorrow.

I needn’t have to have worried about these charging points: They were all already occupied by plug-in hybrid cars – not charging anymore … and enjoying free parking **GRRR**. When do these people get that when you’re done charging that you should move your car away from a charging station to let others use it … or: when will the energy providers get that a ‘you’re done charging: now you pay a hefty parking fee’ will solve this problem and enable them to make more profit?

Anyway: this philosophical musing doesn’t help me solve my current problem.

Having been to Budapest twice during the last two years, I remembered that in one of the hotels I stayed – the Budapest Intercontinental – I was surprised to see an electric car charging at a normal three-phase industrial plug and decided to check if they still had this plug. Arriving at the hotel, I drove up the hotel drive and parked TW560 right in front of the main entrance and was greeted by doorman who asked me what he could do for me. After listening to my request, he promptly took me to the head concierge who then informed me: most certainly Sir, we are more than happy to provide you access to this plug free of charge.

Intercontinental's traditional charging point

Intercontinental’s traditional charging point

Whew, all is good. πŸ™‚

Entering the hotel again – my eye spied a very interesting sign which definitely suited my current needs very well:

Gin O'clock? For me: always!

Gin O’clock? For me: always!

I’ve already written about my eternal love for my favourite poison: Gin. The Budapest Intercontinental’s lobby bar certainly didn’t disappoint with regards to choice and quality of gins offered!

With some hours to kill until the charge is complete, my daughter and I have a look around Budapest.

During TW560's charge: Budapest Metro

During TW560’s charge: Budapest Metro

Central Budapest town square is completely taken over by many food stalls selling many different types of food. Meat dominates the menus everywhere.

Mmm - meat lovers rejoice

Mmm – meat lovers rejoice

There are also some specialities to be sampled… πŸ™‚

Testicles, anyone?

Testicles, anyone?

We then head up to Budapest castle to see the church and enjoy the views of the city from above.

Budapest's famous chain bridge

Budapest’s famous chain bridge

Buying the tickets for the funicular up to the castle, I wanted to pay with all the Euro coins I had collected during the last few days..but:

Nooo! I've been collecting Euro-coins all week long!

Nooo! I’ve been collecting Euro-coins all week long!

After a 2 minute ride, we arrive at the castle and walk towards the viewing platform and church.

I spy with my little eye...

I spy with my little eye…

Budapest city centre

Budapest city centre

We then walked around the city a little more and as darkness descended, picked up our fully charged TWIKE from the Intercontinental and drove back to our hotel.

We’re looking forward to Vienna, where we will stay with a part of my Austrian family for the night. See you tomorrow!

TDE2017 - Day 6 track

TDE2017 – Day 6 track