ON THE DAY we returned from Ribarska Banja, Serbia (link), we took the night train to Budapest, Hungary. During the 8-hour train journey, there were two custom checks. I recall it being rather frightening as it was the middle of the night and there was no prior warning, other than the sudden knocks on your cabin door by the custom officers. In all, the train stopped three times, I know because I hardly slept a wink!
We arrived at 6am, sleepy but eager to see one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Unfortunately, on both days we were there (29th– 30th August 2007), it drizzled/rained quite a bit. We took the 2-hour hop-on-hop-off bus for a quick sightsee of the city and also bought the Danube River cruise tickets for the following day (we got a refund later as it rained and went shopping instead).
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and the largest city in East-Central Europe. It was previously made up of three major settlements – Buda, Pest and Óbuda – which were merged into a city in 1872. Today, Budapest is a combination Buda and Pest, the former is hilly and mostly residential while the latter is flatter and more commercial. Flowing between the two towns is Danube River.
Budapest has been described as an “architecture paradise” with various architectural styles co-existing in the city – there’s Gothic (eg. Buda Castle and Parliament Building); Renaissance (eg. St. Stephen’s Basilica), Baroque (eg. Royal Palace and Church of St. Anna), Classicism (eg. Chain Bridge and Hungarian National Museum), among others (online sources).
(Top) The Buda Castle… the Castle District and the Danube embankments were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites on 11 December 1987; interesting building domes in the city; (Centre) Statue of Hungarian writer and statesman József baron Eötvös, erected in 1879 in a city square.
(Top) At the end of the road is St. Stephen’s Basilica, named after the first King of Hungary; (Bottom, L-R) Dohány Street Synagogue built between 1854 and 1859, is the world’s second largest synagogue; the Hungarian Parliament Building is the world’s third largest parliament building.
(L) Heroes’ Square (another UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002) and the Millennium Monument stands in the centre of the biggest square in Budapest; (R) Museum of Fine Arts.
(Top) Panoramic view from Gellért Hill where one can see Buda and Pest divided by the Danube; (L) On the hilltop is Liberation Monument, of a woman holding an olive branch, a symbol of peace. It was erected in 1947 after WWII; Outside Citedella fortress, M feeling rather miserable with the constant drizzle; some of the cannons that remained on the hill after the fortress was turned into a tourist centre.
Meeting of old friends in Indigo Restaurant; made a new one who also kindly took us in.
Note: The return train ticket was 2,106 Dinars (adult) and 1,053 Dinars (child) with a reservation fee of 1,328 Dinars per person. At the conversation rate of US$1 = 57.8 Dinars then, the cost was about US$60 (adult) and US$42 (child).