Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Buda"pesht" Part I

We're back! We loved Budapest. It was a great city to just walk around, without a plan, and allow yourself to stumble across impressive buildings, local restaurants, and breath taking views. It was fairly inexpensive, a bit grimy, but lots of culture and things see.

We have been SO lucky with our travels so far in that nothing has really gone wrong yet. We took the bus to Luton airport on Friday around 11 and waited, arrived to Budapest around 6, took a shuttle to our hotel, and then just walked around. We decided to shell a bit extra by taking a shuttle vs public transportation to get to our hotel (Bo18 Superior- it was just okay). After a day of traveling, you just want to BE at your final destination, and if it is affordable, it is totally worth the extra 20 pounds to be there quickly.

Street our Hotel was on. There were bullet holes on the building from the revolt in 1956!
It gets dark, in both London and Budapest, around 4:30, so there wasn't much to see or do by then. we just walked to a close restaurant, ate, and then hung out at the hotel (which was surprisingly hopping with people). Budapest is interesting in that although nearly everyone speaks English, you can tell it is not their first language. There were French, Germans, Italians, and lots of Eastern Europeans there, along with Hungarians. They all communicated in English to each other, since it is the common language. Very different from Cinque Terre, were all of the tourists seemed to be American!

On Saturday, we slept in until about 10 (we hadn't slept well, as the area we were in was LOUD at night). We had plans to take a tour bus, but decided we just wanted to walk around and see what we could stumble across.

We immediately bought  travel cards, allowing us to ride the trams, buses, and underground train while we were there. We always try to take public transportation as opposed to taxis. Not only does it save money, but it allows you to immerse yourself in to the city a bit more. It is also surprisingly easy to use in most big cities. Although the directions, stops, and what not was mostly in Hungarian, it was still easy to use.

We took the tram to the Danube river, and walked along it for a bit, passing all of the main sights. The river splits up Budapest in to two different sides- the west side (Buda) and east side (pest). Buda seems to be older, hillier, and in my opinion, more beautiful. Pest was more modern, where all of the shops were, but just not as nice. A little grimier.

Parliament...under HEAVY construction, so it was hard to get a great picture

We walked along the chain bridge to get to the Buda side of Budapest.

View of the Buda Castle from the bridge
From the bridge, we didn't need a map. We could easily see the castle, and that was where we wanted to walk to! That was something so great about Budapest- the main sites could be seen from all over the city, so it was easy to get around!

 The top of the castle offered great views of the Pest side of the city.
View from the castle- Parliament on the left, chain bridge on the right

 The castle is now a museum, and we decided we rather just walk around than to see the Hungarian art work. We stumbled across this on castle hill. Have no idea what is used to be used for, but it was an interesting building. Maybe for stables?


We saw a church in the distance, so we decided to walk there. Unfortunately, it was closed...but we did get to see some gypsies!
 Once we were at that church, we saw ANOTHER pretty church in the distance, so walked there instead.


It was called Mathias Church and in an area called Fisherman's Bastion. I was obsessed with the roof of the church- gorgeous orange, turquoise and yellow tiling. It almost looked like it was made out of legos! We decided to spend the 4 euros to tour the church, and I am so glad that we did. It was very different from the English churches I have grown used to seeing!


Not a single surface went unpainted. I loved all of the intricate patterns, bright colors, and the ornate style.

 After the church, we sat at a nearby cafĂ© that was surprisingly delicious. We figured it would be cafeteria style food and not the best since it was right by several tourist spots, but it ended up being our favorite restaurant while we were in Budapest! The chairs had warm, fuzzy blankets to wrap up in while you sit outside, the heaters had a fire burning in them as the night went on, and they had one of my favorite Christmas time treats- mulled wine! We ended up going there again the next day, and I had traditional Hungarian Goulash soup in a bread bowl. Delicious!

After our meal, we just walked more around Budapest. We stopped in to some other local joints to take a peak and have a go at Hungarian beer (which was SO good).

Everywhere in Budapest, they had advertisements for a liquor called Unicum. I decided I had to try it while there, and let me tell you...it was one of the most revolting things I have ever tasted. I could only muster up a sip. Similar to Jagermeister in color, it tasted like a Christmas tree, black jelly beans, and gasoline all grinded in to a thick, muddy liquid. The waitress laughed when I told her to throw the rest out and assured me that I wasn't the only customer to have done that before.
That was our first full day...I'll post about our second and last day tomorrow!

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