Hello Budapest

In 2014 we stopped overnight in Budapest so saw only a minimal part of the city of 3 towns – Buda, Obuda and Pest, divided by the Danube which forks in the middle of the city.

Budapest parliament buildings...

We enjoyed the gentle 4-hour cruise from Esztergom to Budapest, passing through locks without any great excitement. We were all well used to them by now. As you will have seen by the photos on previous blogs, the scenery was beautiful and, with a cloudy, but dry day, being lazy was wonderful. This kind of day convinced us that cruising is a wonderful way to travel, especially for us Seniors.

The approach to Budapest was stunning as our introduction was the Hungarian Parliament Buildings right on the river bank. These are most impressive and expansive Renaissance Revival buildings.Budapest has an ancient history and, like many E. European countries, was originally settled by the Celts. There were the 3 towns as mentioned above which unified in 1873 into one city called Budapest. Today only the 2 towns are mentioned in most tourist information publications. The Parliament Building was built in the first 7 years of the 1880s. In 1949, the start of the Socialist years, a red star was placed on the top of the dome which was removed 40 years later.

As we had explored Pest previously seeing the 1956 Revolution Sculpture, the gigantic time wheel and a number of beautiful buildings, the 2 of us and a new friend from Australia decided to work our way to the funicular to visit Budapest Castle. Our Cruise Manager, Stefi, had told us that we walk up a street from the Market Building, cross the Chain Bridge and arrive at the funicular.

We chose to visit the Market first and were absolutely taken aback at its size. The first half of this huge open hall was filled with meat and vegetable stalls and the vegetables were really beautiful. The last time we saw radishes, peppers and carrots of this size was in Lublijana, Slovenia in 2014. The second half of the hall was mainly clothes and I was very keen to buy a blouse which was beautifully but simply embroidered. Unfortunately this was not possible as the stall owner accepted neither Credit Card nor Euros.

I had an interesting experience at one stall where food accessories such as graters, peelers and condiment cellars were sold. I had decided to get Trevor a new Pepper Grinder for his birthday on our return home so took a real interest in these which were decorated with flowers and other designs. Typically Hungarian. I picked one up and was taking a closer look when the stall owner snatched it from me, put it back and then pointed to her eyes saying, “Look! Look! No touch”. I think we each had the thought, “Silly old woman”, she in Hungarian and I in English.

We left the hall and began walking up a street lined with both inside shops and street stalls. A large variety of items were on sale but most striking were the embroidered clothes and decorative furnishings. Once again Euros and credit cards were not popular with the stall holders so my desires were curbed for which my husband was rather pleased, I guess.

We reached an intersection with another beautiful suspension bridge over the Danube but knew it was not the Chain Bridge so had to keep walking. I don’t think that Stefi realised how far it actually was even though it was a pleasant walk with lots to see and the weather had improved. I have a special love for both bridges and spires and we saw plenty of these. The Chain Bridge was, to me, a beautiful bridge with an interesting history. Its official name is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge named after the gentleman who, in 1839, first suggested that it should be built. It was the first stone bridge across the Danube linking Buda and Pest and the 2nd on the whole length of the river.Chain Bridge

At the end of the bridge we arrived at the Buda Castle Funicular Railway (Budavari Siklo). It too is a 19th Century build and this is clear from the carriage itself which is built in the form of a rail carriage of the day. The ride up to the Castle was beautiful as during the 2 minute ride, only if standing, one could enjoy a view of the river and the town of Pest. As in most of the places we saw on our trip, there was lots of building activity with cranes all across the skyline. Problem was that it makes taking photos rather frustrating.Funicular to Buda Castle

 

 

 

At the top we stepped out into the Castle grounds which are one large flat area mainly covered in Bitumen or paving. There was little garden area but what there was, was nicely laid out. A complete contrast to those at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. On either side of the entrance to the Castle, which was closed at the time, was a sentry. A few minutes after we arrived we heard drums and marching and expected to see a change of the sentries or similar. Not so; it was a marching band which went straight past to the other side of the building and immediately fell out of formation.

Budapest brick spiresCastle entranceBuda Castle was first built in the 14th Century and over the next 500 years a number of monarchies from countries which over-ran Hungary on different occasions lived there. Many of these monarchs made structural changes and other changes were made when it was damaged in some wars. It was used as a government building during Socialist rule but reopened as a museum castle in the early 1990s and is now the headquarters of the Hungarian government. Housed within the Castle are the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, and the National Széchenyi Library. To the rear of the Castle is a medieval town where people still live and where the Church of St Matthias is situated.

Due to renovations taking place at St Matthias and within the medieval area we were unable to access these places. It would seem that although April/May is a good time for Senior Citizens to travel with cool weather and no school children it also seems to be time when cities and tourist attractions are open but under refurbishment or just cleaning. Also, fountains and other water features are frequently off due to colder temperatures.

As there is still so much which happened that day, I shall split this blog at this point and continue in a new article. Too much to take in at one time could mean you won’t want to see any more.View of Pest and Danube

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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