Budapest, Hungary plays host to the European Figure Skating Championships for the seventh time in 2014. Many of the skaters have not yet arrived but will do so over the next two days. In the meantime, here are some of my top tips for those of you travelling to the city for the first time this week!
1 euro is worth approximately 300 Hungarian Forints (HUF)
A taxi from the airport to downtown costs approximately 6,000-6,500HUF. There is a taxi booth outside the terminal where you can order a car to pick you up right away. Be sure to talk to the person inside the booth and not any of the touts who approach you before you get there.
A service charge is included in the bill at most restaurants so there is no need to leave a tip.
Budapest has a cheap and extremely efficient public transport system, so don't even think of trying to get anywhere without buying a ticket - the Hungarian ticket inspectors take no prisoners. There are 24 and 72 hour tickets available, as well as a seven day pass. Ticket agents all speak English so you will have no excuses. And watch out for the super quick escalators.
To get to the SYMA Sports Hall where Europeans will take place, disembark at Puskas Ferenc Stadion station on Line 2 of the Metro. Take the Ferenc Puskas exit to get to the stadium which was named after a famous Hungarian footballer from the 1950s. You will be able to see the SYMA Sports Hall 200m in front of you at this exit..
The venue itself has not been too cold, even when empty as it was during practice today, so no need to bring your Swiss army blanket or wear all the clothes you own. However, if your seats are high up in the stands, it's probably best not to look down or drop anything.
There are very few places to eat in close proximity to the arena: on the opposite side of the metro station there are bakeries and kiosks or you can take a 10-minute trek to the enormous Arena Plaza shopping centre and its well-appointed food court. If you do decide to have something to eat in between events, the food at the arena is great. There is no chance of you going hungry in Hungary (pardon the pun).
The draws for the ladies short program and short dance take place tomorrow.
I'll have more to report in the coming days, so until then "Viszontlatasra!"