Have you read Part 1of this post?
I had 24 hours in Budapest, Hungary, and here’s what I got up to in the order in which I experienced them. Hungary is the 24th country I have set foot on. Yay! 24 down, 171 to go.
Basic info on Budapest
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary. A landlocked country with a population of 9.8 million* and nestled between Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Austria. This old but beautifully ragged city is made up of two parts. The Buda and the Pest (pronounced pe-sh-t) sides divided by the legendary Danube River. Hungarian is the only official language in the country.
After checking into my accommodation, I headed to the metro station and tried to figure out the Hungarian subway. What a trip.
- Fisherman’s Bastion
My first port of call upon arrival was this site. This is by far one of, if not THE most popular tourist site in Budapest. There were people for days here. A lot of folks, and with everyone scrambling to capture pictures of the best views, it was almost a little circus. I thought I had seen a lot of people but this was nothing. Lisbon was a whole ‘nother story (post loading). You know when I am sitting in my house I think the whole world is also asleep? I got a rude awakening. Anyway, I digress…
The Bastion is part of the Castle Hill area together with the Matthias Church which follows below. Apart from the striking architecture, this romantic site is popular for its magnificent views of the ‘Pest’ side of the city including the Parliament Building and the Danube River down below. I think you have to come to this site at different times to take advantage of the various views at daybreak, midday (with a lot other people) and nighttime. Some sunset pictures I have seen from this point are simply breathtaking. You can pay a few euros to go up and explore views from a higher vantage point, but the free sections (lower terraces) are good enough.
There is a lot to see around the Castle Hill area (Sandor Palace, The Royal Palace, Eugene of Savoy Monument, etc…) which I didn’t get to see because – time.
- Matthias church
Right in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion is one captivating Matthias Church. A ticket to tour the church was 1800 HUF (R80). Initially, I wasn’t keen on paying to view the church cum museum because if you’ve been to a lot of European churches, you’d know that they are very much similar in appearance. I decided to bite and buy a ticket anyway. This catholic church was surprisingly nothing like the typical European church I’d seen before. It is bursting with colour and very memorable. They say pictures say a thousand words so see pictures below. Although there wasn’t much to see inside, I did not regret going in since I found the décor quite alluring.
After the two above excursions, I took the metro back to the Pest side of the city for an Air BnB excursion on how to take photos with my iPhone. I guess I needed help in that regard.
- Danube River Night Cruise
It was sooooo cold but I braved the low temperature conditions and headed to Pier 1 of the Danube (Buda) for my night cruise along the River. The highlight of this cruise is no doubt the spectacle that becomes the Budapest Parliament Building by night. The lit-up building is a stunner. It was just glorious especially with the reflection on the river. Both sides of the river offer picturesque views of Budapest by night. Well worth the €14 (R224) cost for just over an hour.
- Parliament Building
This building is arguably the most recognisable landmark of Budapest. Often referred to as the most beautiful Parliament in the world, it is no wonder. By day or night, the building is definitely captivating. At a cost of €22 (R352) you can book an hour tour of the building. You should book at least three weeks in advance. I gave the tour a miss and enjoyed the views from the outside.
- Walk over the famous Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda. It is 375m long and 16m wide. I saw it up close at night during the boat cruise. If you have time however, you can walk from the Parliament building, past the Danube Shoe Memorial (Below) and then walk across the river using the Chain Bridge over to Buda.
- Visit the Night market
As cold as it was, you would expect that after my cruise I would go straight to bed. Nope. I discovered in Vienna (post loading), the city I was in before Budapest, that nightlife in Europe is something you do not want to miss out on for the full experience. I decided to hit the night market and see what was on offer. I visited Budapest in the last week of November so the Christmas markets were getting ready.
- Eat Langos
The Hungarian langos was a real treat. I’ve got to learn how to make this. This is a local dish you just HAVE to indulge in when you’re here. This snack has a crusty vetkoek/doughnut-y flavour, and but of course, you have to have it in its traditional way with sour cream and cheese. Wowmazeballs! Heaven in the mouth. I loved this thing. Although the one I had in Vienna was much much nicer than the one I had in Pest, it is definitely something I look forward to having again.
- Danube shoe memorial
For my February 2020 read, I devoured a book by Dr. Edith Eger titled The choice and when I read about the Jews who were ‘thrown’ into the Danube River, I felt a special connection to that part of the book since I had been there in November of 2019. During World War II, in the period of October 1944 and March 1945, thousands of Hungarians, a lot of whom were Jews, were brought to the edge of the Danube River, ordered to remove their shoes and shot by the Arrow Cross Party Military. Their bodies would fall into the river and be washed away while their shoes remained for use as a valuable commodity in times of war. In 2005, this memorial, (100m or so from the Parliament Building), made up of 60 pairs of cast-iron shoes was erected to honour those who lost their lives in this heinous way.
The memorial site was not populated in the morning so I had a bit of time to sit here, take it all in, right on the side of the road and on the edge of the river, and think about the wicked things that lie in the heart of a person. In MY heart. I thought about the ill opinions I harbour about others and a spirit of repentance came over me. To think that human beings thought it right and just to take people’s lives in this manner is heart-breaking. Human beings did this. With hearts beating in their chests (not bricks) and blood running through their veins (not mercury), they did this. WE did this. Not animals. Us, people – the human race. This and many other atrocious acts that will never be documented or memorialized. If nothing else, this ought to make us realise how foul our hearts can be. We should therefore always take time to check ourselves because we all have the potential to do the unthinkable.
This memorial, and many similar worldwide are a sobering reminder of the ugly of oppression and the abuse of power. #LestWeForget
- Great Market Hall Budapest
This is the Marabastad of Budapest and I still cannot get over how clean it was. Wow. Check out the video here. I apologise that it is upside down half-way through, I am still trying to figure out this video thing. Anyway from the Danube Shoe Memorial, I caught a tram to the Budapest Market and walked around a bit. This is a typical market hall with fresh produce, toys, clothing, crafts etcetera. I met so many grannies going for their shopping at the market and I can promise you, old people are the same the world over. 🙂 You know how we make fun of the elderly in our circles because they dress up to go to the shops? Same-same. I just find it so interesting how we couldn’t be bothered what we wear for shops (I was wearing leggings) and for them, it is an outing that deserves decent dressing up for.
- iPhone Photography excursion
I took up an Air BnB excursion to teach me how to use my iPhone to take better pics. Mmmmm. I must say the lady was nice and obviously had a lot of knowledge in photography, but other than that, I can’t say I take different pictures now. Anyway, here are some of those pics that I took with her guidance.
*Hungarian Central Statistical Office