It was the perfect way to kickstart my trip to Budapest! Wish I had done this for other routes. This was in stark contrast to my encounter with an over-crowded train from Prague to Bratislava (ugh).
Tour guide: Andrea (HU)
Andrea never ran out of engaging stories and trivia from Hungary's history. In my next few days in Budapest, I went on a handful of other tours in the city, and I already knew most of what would be said in the intros to Budapest & Hungary! All thanks to what Andrea had taught us during our Sidetrip tour.
The hidden gem in this tour is a small synagogue and memorial in Szentendre that I would never have found if I had just gone by what TripAdvisor or travel blogs said. I truly appreciate that Andrea devoted time to discuss the history of the Jewish in Hungary, and made the effort to ensure that we got our facts straight (e.g. the location of the "Shoes on the Danube" memorial isn't actually where the atrocities being referred to happened).
Driver: Tomas (HU)
Tomas so kindly brought us to a view point with stunning (and crowd-free) vistas of Esztergom [which we were told not all drivers on this tour do]. He notably did this despite some unexpected traffic on the road. I felt safe the whole time during the drives, plus we made it to Budapest on schedule.
Logistics: the icing on the cake :P It was superb.
Vehicle was clean, looked fairly new and well maintained, spacious and comfortable inside, and had seat belts for everyone.
Food actually tasted good where we took our breaks for a morning snack and lunch.
Andrea brought us to a money changer that had fair rates.
Luggage wasn't a problem because it was in the vehicle the whole time!
I can go on and on with other nice things to say...
Is this tour cheap? Doesn't seem so at first glance, but it offers so much more value vs. sitting in a crowded intercity train plus taking separate public transport rides out of Budapest for day trips plus generic walking tours.
I honestly wish I had done this for my Prague-Bratislava leg, but there wasn't enough demand, so start booking people!!! This is a quality service that deserves to thrive in this industry.