Budapest – Day 1 / Pitlane Visit

I woke up in Hungary on the train, about an hour outside Budapest. It was still unbelievably warm. The conductor who took our order last night knocked on our door and brought us our breakfast (Coffee, croissant, orange juice). I was really thirsty so drank the OJ, then finished off the horrible warm sparkling water too! We looked out the window as we gradually came into Budapest.

We arrived in Budapest train station and had to figure out how to get to the hotel. In hindsight we should have went out the front and got on the Metro, but we ended up going out a side door and hadn’t a clue where we were! We consulted a map and thankfully walked in the right direction. We only had to walk one and a bit kilometers, but it felt like 10 miles. It was only 9am but the heat was unreal!

We got to Blaha Lujza tér. I knew the hotel was nearby but didn’t fancy carrying the bags into the underpass unless I knew which exit to take, less I take the wrong exit and have to go back down again with the heavy bags. So I abandoned Leona and went underground. My foresight paid off as I did take the wrong exit but eventually found the right one and the hotel. I returned for Leona and the bags and ventured on!

We were about 4 or 5 hours before check in but I was hot, sweaty and tired so we decided to try our luck to see if they would let us check in early – or at least let us dump our bags there! We got to the check in desk and was greeted by Norbert. Norbert quickly told us that we could check in there and then! If I wasn’t so sweaty I’d have given Norbert a big hug! We went to our room, got showered and dressed. I instantly felt better!

Soon it was lunchtime so we ventured out of our air conditioned hotel room into the midday sun. We went back to Blaha Lujza tér and decided to venture onto the Metro. Like the rest of Europe, the Metro had automatic ticket machines with a button that displays in English, so we knew what we were doing. That didn’t stop a homeless man trying to wade in with his ticket machine opinions by shouting and poking the touch screen. I used my arm to guide him back and I knew there were some cops nearby so I wasn’t too concerned if things got rowdy, but Leona didn’t so she was a bit concerned. He seemed to get more annoyed when our change got spat out of the machine and he didn’t receive any for his ‘no fucking help what so ever’. So he shouted some more in Hungarian and slapped his own face repeatedly. There were only so many times you can say “I don’t fucking understand what you are saying!” and “Go Away!” but eventually he went away, and we got on the Metro to Deák Ferenc tér.

Once we got off at Deák Ferenc tér we walked around to find some lunch. We found a ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ (Leona reckons she has never been to one before – she has, in Dublin – and wanted to try it.) but apparently there was no food because the kitchen had no power or something. That was our first of three attempts to eat there that week! We walked on down the street and we were soon ‘guilted into eating in a place we were just reading the menus outside of’. It was called Casablanca. There wasn’t much choice. I had carbonara, Leona had bolegnase. Mine was nice. Leona’s wasn’t.

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We then proceeded to walk about and see Budapest but it was so warm! We made it to the Elizabeth Bridge, walked along the river and then to Elizabeth Square.It was far too warm to do anything! Leona made the suggestion to go to the baths and sitting in water, in this heat, seemed like an excellent idea so we went back to the hotel to get some swimming gear.

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Headed back onto the metro and took the yellow line to Széchenyi fürdő. We walked around the park and went into the baths. After some confusion (possibly going into wrong entrance) we managed to get our entry wristbands. After more confusion (we had asked for a shared cabin changing room but didn’t get one) so we split and went into the normal changing rooms. After we split I realised that Leona had my towel, but luckily I was able to hire one (and a swimming hat – which wasn’t necessarily needed in the end).

I met up with Leona again and we hung out in the baths for a bit. There were three there – the first one was warm, the second one was really warm and the third one (in the middle) was really cold! The first one also had a seated area in the middle with another area outside it where people just walked around in circles, eventually speeding up. I have no idea why, but had a go. It was a laugh.

We were in the baths for an hour and a bit. We went back to get changed. My only problem with the baths was when the changing room window was open (which it was) you could see in from the street. Hopefully no one outside saw my junk.

Once we left the baths we walked around the park some more. We came across an outside burger place (called BRGR) and got something to eat. In more confusion I ordered fries but received something like crisps, but apparently other people got real fries so I don’t know what I did wrong.

It was after seven by the time we finished our food so decided to go back to the hotel, have a few beers in the bar and get an early night. In the hotel bar a big bottle of Soproni was something like 600 Foront – about £1.50 which, for a hotel, was amazing! After a few beers we went to sleep after such a long day!!

                  * * * *

After a nice long sleep in an air conditioned room we were fighting fit for the day ahead. Today we had to go to the track to collect our tickets and go to for a Pit Lane walk. We have been to two of these before (Barcelona and Monza) and have learnt to gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.

We left the hotel at about lunchtime and got “breakfast” in the near by Burger King. We then went to Blaha Lujza tér. We had to get the metro to Örs vezér tere (the last stop on the Red line/line 2) and get a Suburban Train service to a either one of two stops near the track. Leona had read online that you could buy all in one tickets on the metro. She went to an information desk and asked for Hungaroring. In a moment of mistranslation, the cashier tried to tell her that it was “tomorrow and not today”, but what I think she meant was they weren’t doing tickets until the Friday.

We just decided to jump on the Metro to the end of the line and take it from there. We got 24hr Travel passes (at 1650FT each) and got on the metro. We traveled to the end of the line to the rather nice and modern Metro station. We followed the signs for Line 8 and crossed the road to the not so nice and modern BHÉV station. We asked at the ticket desk and they said we had to get extension tickets to go get on the train. These cost 250FT each way.

The train soon arrived so we got onto the old, slow, warm, bumpy train, but we were with many F1 fans too. We weren’t sure what stop to get off though. We had two choices Szilasliget or Mogyoród, both similar distances to the track. We decided to essentially follow the crowd. Sure enough lots of people got out at Szilasliget and we followed them.

This was then the start of a long and horrible walk to the track. The walk was roughly 4km which isn’t that bad, but it was early afternoon so the heat was awful. We had the foresight to bring plenty of water but it was warm too. The first kilometre and a bit was all uphill and the paths were rough which was tough on your feet. Once at the top of the hill we were on the flats and the road was a bit better. After some more walking we had ended up at the wall of the circuit, sadly it was behind the last corner when we had to be at Turn 1. Thankfully (we thought) it was cooler than earlier and a wee bit of occasional cloud cover. In the distance it was very cloudy and Leona said she saw a flash in the distance.

We picked up our tickets beside the petrol station..,

We picked up our tickets beside the petrol station..,

After our long and horrible walk we arrived at the circuit and collected our tickets. Unlike other times we didn’t get a lanyard, maybe CVC wanted a few more pennies. We then decided to get a cold beverage in a bar outside the circuit… sure we deserved it!

An ad hoc lightning rod

An ad hoc lightning rod

It was approaching 4 o’clock so we approached the main gate. I was starting to get concerned as it was considerably cloudy and cooler than earlier, also the wind was picking up. Sure enough we started to hear rumbles of thunder, which started getting louder, and seeing lightning strikes in the distance. The gates didn’t open until four and sure enough the crowd was slow in getting in with stewards checking one ticket at a time.

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The thunder was getting louder and lightning strikes getting closer but we managed to make it in after 15 minutes or so. We got in the gates and walked towards the pitlane, but within minutes of us getting in the rain started to pour down and it was heavy! Luckily we were right beside the main granstand and noticed a gap in the fence. We ran through it and waited in the grandstand (with many others) hoping for the rain to subside. Sadly it got heavier (we found out afterwards the stewards just started letting people in when the rain hit, couldn’t blame them!)

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We sat for an hour in the grandstand as people kept walking down the pit straight. Some people were carrying big flags on flagpoles, or as I saw them, giant lightning rods! The scariest thing was when lightning struck on the grounds of the circuit. I don’t know exactly where it was but I heard the crack and saw the bright light hitting behind the pit building. It was impressive at the same time as I’d never seen lightning strike up close. That was close enough though!

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I tried to take some photos from the grandstand and lost my lens cap 😦 .

a little sunshine after the rain

a little sunshine after the rain

Soon the torrential rain turned to drizzle and then the drizzle stopped so Leona and I ventured to the pit straight. The entrance to pit straight was at the top where the Pit Exit is and to get to the pit lane we had to go in through an opening at the bottom of the straight (towards normal pit entry). This lead to a few issues. One being that the entry was quite small and this lead to a bottle neck. Another issue was that the drivers were doing their signing session beside the entrance. Therefore people would hang out at the entrance adding to the bottleneck.

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bottleneck!

bottleneck!

We managed to get in and saw a few drivers walking to their sessions and gave them a wave. We ended up standing outside the FIA Weighbridge so had a look at some of the cars and then decided to walk towards the bottom of the pitlane. More congestion was caused because the entrance was beside all the “popular” teams so everyone hung about there. This meant massive congestion until we got passed Ferrari’s garage and had more room.

Squint and you'll see Vettel

Squint and you’ll see Vettel

Button

Button

Alonso

Alonso

Crowd!

Crowd!

Button Again

Button Again

We watched some pit stop practicing at Sauber and Manor and then it was chucking out time already. We were there three hours but didn’t see much. We left the circuit at turn one again and decided to walk to Mogyoród as that walk couldn’t be any worse than the other train station.

Corporate arse licking

Corporate arse licking

Bottas

Bottas

#JB17

#JB17

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Walk to Turn 1

Turn 1

Turn 1

We walked a bit but stopped for some chips and beer at one of the camping villages and noticed that they also had a strip club (!). This walk seemed to be all up hill too on country roads and it was getting dark quickly but managed to get to the train-station just after 9pm! This station was also grim! Soon a train arrived and we headed back to Budapest. It was after 10 before we got back.

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Darkness!

Darkness!

Another early night was needed!

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