Thursday, December 11, 2014

Budapest



Founded in 1873, Budapest is the capital of Hungary, and in three days it quickly rose to become one of my favourite cities in Europe. The beautiful Danube River separates the two sides, Buda and Pest, with statues, churches, castles and incredible monuments placed throughout the city.

We had three days, which meant we had lots to see and not a lot of time. Our first day was spent in Pest, where we stayed, wandering around the gorgeous Christmas markets and exploring the city centre, which runs alongside the river.

On day two, we ventured over the Danube River and into Buda. Before leaving, we grabbed breakfast by the Hungarian Houses of Parliament, which is probably my favourite part of Budapest. It was a Saturday morning and we witnessed the guards changing over, yet it was extremely quiet, nothing like Buckingham Palace on a Saturday morning. We walked down from Parliament to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank and were lucky enough to stumble across a beautiful memorial service. The speeches given by various people were in Hungarian, so we had no idea what was being said, but it was lovely none the less. At the end, a group of people stood in a line facing the river and each dropped a yellow rose into the water. Once the service came to a close, we hopped on a tram and headed into Buda. My mum had never been on a tram before so to say she was excited was an understatement. 

Buda was just as beautiful as Pest, with a castle perched on the top of the hill, overlooking the entire city. We opted against the usual walking tours due to being limited on time and headed out with just a map instead. After a couple of hours of walking, we stumbled across the Fisherman’s Bastion, with spiral steps that took us to a scenic view of the river and the Houses of Parliament on the other side. Next to Fisherman’s Bastion stood Matthias Church, with a patterned ceramic roof that glistened in the fog, and at the time of our visit, was the host of a wedding ceremony. The small town next to the church was quaint, and like every other part of Budapest, extremely quiet for a capital city. After a day of wandering, we crossed the Chain Bridge back into Pest, and headed to our hotel for the night. 

Our last day in Budapest entailed two trips, both situated at opposite ends of the city. In the morning we travelled south, just outside of Budapest, and visited Memento Park. The last remaining statues from the period of communist rule, situated in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. The history dork within me came to the surface and we wandered around the park, test-driving a car and creatively rein-acting statue poses. Who said history wasn’t fun?

After the morning at Memento Park, we travelled back North to City Park. Equipped with the largest thermal bath in Europe, Vajdahunyad Castle situated next to an outdoor Ice Rink and Heroes’ Square as its main entrance – a must see when visiting the city!

Budapest was beautiful, with friendly locals and undoubtedly the best transport system I have ever come across. Three days was nowhere near enough time and I am already planning a second visit (though questionably it is being added to an increasingly long list).








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