Monday, 8 April 2013

Budapest Day 2

Friday, March 29
The hotel provided the most wonderful breakfast buffet. There was anything you would want. I enjoyed the healthy variety.
It was a rainy morning, but there things to see and do so we dressed for the weather and out we went. Our plan was to go to the Parliment for the tour in English at 10 am. We arrived early and joine a long queue. We watch as people who pre-booked came and entered, our line moving at a snails pace. After an hour we decided to go into the Museum of Ethnology directly across the street, no line! The museum was in a grand old building and housed in the Palace of Justice.The collection represents the rural folk culture in Hungary from prehistoric to the 20th century. 
For lunch we went to Cafe Kor which was recommended by a young lady sitting next to me on the airplane. We both had the fish specials, pike and cod. Fabulous. Friendly staff and delicious food made for a very memorable meal.
After lunch the rain had stopped so we took a stroll down the Vaci Utca and Andrassy Utca, stopping at an Easter Market in a square. 



The Andrassy Utca is often compared to the Champs d'Eysee. It is divided into three sections, the first two shops and theaters (the Opera Houseis here) and the third is residential. There are enormous, ornate homes to Budapest's wealthiest residents. The avenue ends at Hero's Square.
We took the Metro from the Opera back to the Deák Ferenc tér and had coffee and cake in the most famous cafe in Budapest. Don't ask me what we had but it sure was delicious. We spent a while there admiring the decadent patisserie, elegant chandeliers and velvet drapery.


The Budapest Spring Festival was in full swing. I booked tickets to hear a concert at the Palace of Arts, a new concert hall which was just outside the city center but still on a tram line. The concert, St Matthew's Passion, was just beautiful with some amazing soloist, but even I got a little restless, as it was 3 1/2 hours long!
Afterwards, we had to run for our ride home, I mistakenly thought transport stopped running at 11:30pm and we had a long way to go. Fortunately, we caught the last service out to our hotel.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Easter in Budapest: Day 1


Thursday, March 28, 2013- We took a short (2 hour) flight from London Luton Airport and arrived at our hotel on the Buda side of Budapest before lunch. Checked in and got our Budapest Card which gave us travel on all public transport. Spring has not taken hold in Europe yet, Budapest had three days of snow earlier in the week before we arrived and the ground was mostly snow covered. Cold on Thursday near freezing. The tram lines on the Buda side of the Danube run right along the river front and provide an excellent sightseeing platform. Public transport throughout the city was reliable and safe and very accessible.
Took the tram from the hotel to Carl Adam Ter intending to take the vunicular up to the Castle District to see the sites. The vunicular was closed because of snow, so we walked up the winding paths to the top of the hill. 

The Castle district is the center of the old hill town of Buda, an old walled castle 200 fit above the Danube. 



Home to the President of Hungary

The oldest buildings dates from the 13th century, though most were heavily damaged in WWII, they have been restored. The Old Town includes St Matyas Church.

St. Matyas Church

Inside St Matyas Church
Detail of St. Matyas Church Castle District
St Matyas Church

St Stephen was the first King of Hungary. This statue was erected in 1906.

Also in the Castle district is the Fisherman's Bastion. It was built in 1895 by Frigyes Schulek as a monument to the Guild of Fisherman.

Fisherman's Bastion in the Castle District

Each Neo-Romanesque column is unique.

There are many great old squares and cobbled streets. Enjoyed our first of many great Hungarian meals in a nice restaurant, 21 Magyar, in Old Town.


The Castle District provides spectacular views 
of Budapest's most famous landmarks.

The Chain Bridge was the first permanent crossing between Buda and Pest.
Parliment Building modeled after the London Parliment
View of St Stephen's Basilica

 Hopped on the tourist bus and took it down from the Castle District and then up to the Citadel on top of Gellert Hill, 460 feet above the Danube. Great views down the river and into Pest.  

We didn't spend a lot of time here, but was able to return a few days later. From there we caught the bus to ride across the Liberty Bridge in to the Parliament region in Pest.

This is the type of tram we rode all over town.

Meandered our way down to St Stephen's Basilica were Maundy Thursday services where being held. Beautifully ornate basilica in rose marble and gold leaf. Choir music was heavenly!


St Stephen's Basilica is home to an interesting relic, read on.......

The mummified right fist of St Stephen.

Coffee in the square in front of the basilica, then back on the subway and the tram for the ride up the river to our hotel.  It had gotten dark so the town was aglow with lighted monuments bridges and buildings.


 Stopped in the local shop near the station and got some snacks and a nice bottle of Hungarian red wine for our dinner.
I'll leave you here, at the end of our first (exhausting) day! Coming up are Gellert Baths, Hero's Square, the Opera House and the most luxurious coffee shop you have ever seen!  So stay tuned, there is more great stuf to come.