There are probably colder places in the world, but at -10ºC, with the River Danube frozen into thick blocks of ice and with a bittter wind biting at your face whichever way you walk, it was hard to imagine where these may be.
I was in the capital of Hungary, along with another 37 blokes, on a stag-do (stag-dos contribute to most of my European travel needs). After a very early easyJet flight from Luton, we arranged to meet in a bar/restaurant around the corner from our hotel for some pre-pub crawl sustenance.
Before meeting, there was a window of opportunity of around ten minutes – I was aware that this might be the only time I’d get to see Budapest sober, so I left the hotel by the sliding doors to investigate. It was actually so cold, the instant the doors opened my face turned blue.
Our hotel was on the banks of the Danube (more White Danube than Blue Danube) on the Buda side. I just about had time to walk along the river, cross a bridge into Pest, walk past the Parliament building and then cross the river back to the hotel via the famous Széchenyi Chain suspension bridge.
When I rejoined the stag party, I’ve never been so thankful for stodgy goulash and dumplings to thaw me out. Coupled with a few Dreher beers and some shots of the local spirit, Unicum, I was ready to brave the cold again.