Hilly Buda, and flat Pest. That is the Hungarian capital, dissected by the river Duna (Danube) and our destination after leaving Szeged.
We’d arranged our hostel accommodation in advance, and we were again fortunate when we discovered how close we were staying to many of the key sights we’d identified to see.
The hostel itself was in an old residential building, so it came complete with inner courtyard and provided views of how I imagined the local people actually living.
The middle of the day had passed us by, so our first course of action had to be lunch, and we didn’t have to venture far to find our first meal in the capital (seriously, it was across the road).
Despite the heat, we managed to find seats in the shade and it wasn’t long before we had cold beers in hand and a serve of Langos (Hungarian fried potato cakes) and Csirke Paprikas (Paprika Chicken) before us, both of which were delicious.
With a bit more fuel in our belly we tackled St Stephens Basilica. Another stunning religious monument, with free entry to the church proper, for a small fee there was also the option to climb to the top for some stunning views of the city (the views inside were also impressive, especially the beautifully painted ceiling.
Among the more eerie sights was a mummified hand, displayed in its own glass case which, again for a small fee (which we opted not to pay), could be illuminated.
Next came the ascent to the top, which for the lazy people out there, also had a lift which could carry people much of the way. We chose to stick with the stairs.
Be warned however, there are a LOT of stairs and in the 40 degree heat, it was challenging (my tip when visiting the Basilica: Choose a cooler day). Thankfully the reward was certainly worth it.
The 360 degree views of the city were wonderful, and it also gave my my first glimpse of the waters of the Danube. So it was there that we made our next destination
My desire to get to the river had several motivating factors. Many of the cities desirable sights could be seen from here and we also had a grand plan to cruise up the Danube to Bratislava in a couple of days time and it was supposedly here we would be able to book.
It wasn’t far from St Stephens square to the river and in short time we were crossing the iconic Chain Bridge (all bridges over the Danube were actually destroyed in 1945 as the Germans retreated from the advancing Russians) as it was from the far bank that I was hoping to get a good look at one of Europe’s grandest (in my opinion) public buildings, the Hungarian Parliament.
Unfortunately in what was a recurring issue in many of the cities in our European travels, summer seemed to coincide with the best time to do any repairs or restoration the historic sights.
As a result, it was quite a walk before I was able to get a shot with most of the scaffolding obscured.
More climbing followed as we made our way to the Fishermans Bastion for more great views of the river and city. The hills weren’t steep, but a combination of the heat and my general lack of fitness meant it wasn’t as easy as it once would have been.
With the bulk of the day having passed us by, you may be able to guess what’s coming next. If you haven’t, it was time for an evening beer.
There was a bit more purpose to it than normal however (I’m factoring it in as part of my Budapest sight-seeing), as the lady at our hostel had worded us up on some relatively new watering holes that had opened up in the old Jewish quarter.
What these establishments had done was take an old residential building, and turn their inner courtyards into funky beer gardens.
We sampled a few (both gardens and beers) and had a pretty cool time indeed.
The stroll back towards our room and bed unearthed a couple more little Budapest gems. What at first we took to be loud “Doof Doof” music actually translated into a pretty cool local Ska band playing to a decent crowd.
We’d also realised that we’d neglected dinner, however the heat meant that we weren’t actually all that hungry. This lead to my suggestion of a gelato, possibly the best gelato of the trip.
Ginger flavoured, this also lingered with a nice kick in the end that saw us off to bed, very content indeed.