Budapest. Just the name seems exotic doesn’t it?
This city was at the middle of the trip, see map, and because of this, I think, my impression of it suffered from a little of the mid-trip tiredness. Not that we were complaining, but it did get hard to keep everything in perspective when you see so much in such a small space of time.
Budapest used to be separated into three cities – Buda and Òbuda on the hill, Pest below on opposite side of the Danube river. The most beautiful views of the city we saw were from the Buda side, like this one of the Danube:
If I remember correctly, we left Vienna around lunch time and drove into Budapest in the afternoon. We stopped at our hotel quickly, I think we had 1 hour to be back at the bus and dressed for dinner. We met up with our city guide, a wonderful lady who had a very hard-to-understand Hungarian accent. From there we did a tour of the city by bus.
First we stopped at Hero’s Square. This square is decorated with statues of kings, governors and famous characters of the Hungarian history.
Next we drove through the center of town, our guide pointing out many important buildings and areas of the city. It was hard to keep up with her at times, both because the bus was moving and because of the accent. We ended up driving across the river and north to the Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle HIll:
Matthais Church was here (though under some rennovations):
The bastion offered a nice view of the city, here is the parliament building:
After we finished the driving tour, we were offloaded from the bus and onloaded onto a boat for a dinner cruise! The dinner was okay, the usual for these type of things. It was a buffet with some Hungarian dishes I had never had. Yes, there was goulash but we also tried some cabbage rolls, and Csirkepaprikás, which can be roughly translated to chicken with paprika.
A picture of the Buda Castle and the chain bridge lit up:
The second day we spent in Budapest was a free day for the bus driver, something about European labor laws, so for us it meant exploring the city on our own. Here’s a map to give you an idea, it was definitely too far to travel by foot:
So we took the Budapest metro into downtown. Was probably the oldest subway I have ever ridden; it was noisy and clanky but it had personality:
Our first stop of the day was to the Parliment building:
They have tours a couple times a day in multiple languages. They were a bit strict on security though. People wanting to visit had to wait in a line in the parking lot and only one person per group could buy tickets. Anyway, the tour was nice, the highlights were the Hugarian crown jewels:
And the conference hall:
After the tour, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral:
It felt like all of the important buildings in Budapest are heavily detailed in gold:
We had pizza at some point for lunch, then we visited an indoor/outdoor market:
While we were here we saw a bakery selling burrito-looking pastries in about 10 flavors for 1 Euro each. Our friends picked an apple cinnamon and D and I decided to go for the apple poppy seed flavor. Let me tell you, this was the most disgusting dessert I have ever tasted. The filling was about 95% poppy seeds. It was black. If you can imagine pouring poppy seeds into your mouth, only make them warm and sticky, you would have an idea on how bad it was. I’m guessing they have gotten some complaints there because they had a very visible sign stating there are no returns. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.
After the market we walked a long way, wandering mostly, and ended up eventually at City Park, which is publicly owned:
It also had a zoo, baths from Turkish times, and Vajdahunyad Castle which is a mock castle modeled after one in Romania:
Dinner the second night was provided by the hotel and part of the tour. It was another buffet and we saw a few more Hungarian dishes, but honestly, at a so-so buffet, isn’t dessert always the best part?