Budapest has always had a certain appeal to me. I didn't have a clear image in my mind of what to expect, however I knew it would be both beautiful and delicious. As we drove in on our bus 'Big Daddy' I wasn't disappointed.
Traditionally Budapest was two cities. On one side of the Danube was Pest and the other (you guessed it huh) is Buda. With the improvement of transportation and the building of some key bridges (such as the Chain Bridge) the two cities were united and became one. On the Buda side of the river, Gellerts Hill rises above and casts an imposing shadow over the city. There is accommodation in Budapest on either side of the river, as well as on many luxury boats docking on the river.
It is home to a famous spa and a memorial statue to St Gellert who was tossed down the hill in a wine cask to his death. It is here where we first stopped to get a good look out over the city. The Buda side of the city is also home to Buda Castle, Matthias Church (often called the Disney church for its beautiful turrets) and a funicular railway that you can ride to the peak to explore these sites.
There is lots to do in Budapest. One of the 'must see' places in Budapest is the Museum of Terror. A former communist building where people were tortured in the basement during the communist reign. As we only had one full day, I decided to bypass this with one of the other girls and take a walking tour of the city. It was a long but lovely walk down the Danube, with our sites set on the funicular railway. We passed many ornate buildings in the Austro-Hungarian style and when chancing upon a bakery that looked too delicious to pass up, stopped to have a pastry lunch. It was delicious!
The view over the city and the church at the top were beautiful, however by this point we had tired legs, so we caught a taxi back to our hostel and got ready for the thermal baths. We headed to the Szechnyi Baths, which we had been advised were the best of the two. Whilst the indoor pools we rather 'thermal' smelling, the outdoor pools were a lovelz way to relax and we spent our time pool hopping between the 30 degree and 38 degree pool.
By this point I was well and truly relaxed and being told that I couldn't leave Budapest without trying the Nutella pizza being made next to our hostel, I headed off to grab me a slice!
Budapest is known for its nightlife, in particular 'dive bars'. We visited a quirkly one called Szimpla. It was an indoor/outdoor arrangement with lots of paraphenalia hanging from the ceilings and walls. It reminded me a little of something you'd find in Fitzroy, but much bigger.
All in all, I could have easily spent another couple of days in Budapest, and was sad to say goodbye. It was a truly beautiful city and good preparation for the beauty of Austria which lay ahead.
The round up
In Budapest I: Swam in a thermal pool, caught a funicular railway, saw a castle, ate nutella pizza, was defeated by a giant dish of roast pork and dumplings, saw beautiful Austro-Hungarian architecture, saw the Danube, went to a 'dive bar', typed this up on a German computer (think umlauts and z's where y's should be...argh!!)
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