|Being right on the banks of Danube gives the Parliament a great deal of elegance.|
View from the top- the Buda Castle
The Danube did not look too blue as we sat on the ramparts of Buda castle while taking in the view of the magnificent city of Budapest. It may not have looked too blue but it looked lovely as it flowed freely dividing the cities of Buda and Pest. At the moment we were parched up on Buda castle having walked up rather than taking a funicular . The views from this vantage point were magnificent and the boats and ships sailing up and down the river added to the flavor of the place. As Danube is a mighty river flowing from city to city and country to country, the river cruises on this river are very popular. Luxury boats like those of Viking, offer several cruises and some of them last as long as 21 days. At a later stage we also did take a cruise but that lasted just 2 hours !
|A View from the Buda Castle|
After every few minutes my eyes would automatically get stuck on a magnificent piece of architecture across the river. On inquiry it was revealed that this was the Parliament of Hungary and it was a major tourist attraction. The 3 major landmarks of Budapest (The Parliament , the Danube and the Chain Bridge) were being captured in one frame while I sat atop the 4th landmark- The Buda Castle. We decided to do the Parliament the next day as it appeared to be the most important landmark of the Hungarian Capital.
|The boats go under many bridges and it all looks lovely from the top|
The Hungarian Parliament - fit to be a palace.
|A Panoramic view from the other side of the Parliament. Looks great in Black and White|
Not wanting to waste the time waiting for the tour to start, I told the family to hang around near the Parliament till the tour started while I took a metro the the main rail station to book our train tickets for Vienna. Hungarians are perhaps not as efficient as the Western Europeans and what should have taken just a few minutes took a couple of hours and by the time I returned the tour had already started and luckily family had their own tickets and I had mine so they could go for it while I was stranded outside. On my request the management decided to transfer me to another tour but the next English tour was 3 hours away. I decided to join a Spanish group instead and for the next hour or so it was all señor, señorita, gracias and thousands of phrases about which I had no clue.
|Everything glitters inside the building|
Though I missed out on several stories which our lady guide was rattling off, it was wonderful to see the parliament in session in their Assembly halls and MP's walking around. As we walked up great ornamental stairs, we saw frescoes on the ceiling and passed by the bust of the creator. The Holy crown of Hungary was a big attraction and a reprimand by the guide to me as she shouted señor and looked at me brought the attention of everyone in the crown room to me. The guards jumped to attention. All this happened while I was innocently clicking away and photographing the royal crown. Apparently the guide had warned a few times in Spanish that photographing the crown was prohibited but as expected I was totally oblivious to this. Spanish is Greek to me.
|Inside the parliament building. Richness all around.|
At many places there were these gold plated cigar holders built into the structure. The cigars remain safe here while the members of parliament debate on burning issues. As far as many stories that I missed out on, my family was kind enough to update me on those at lunch time.
|Cigar time !|
Buda Castle and the Castle Hill District
|The Buda Castle has seen many wars and had been extensively damaged many times. The chain bridge joins Pest to Buda.|
Now I come back to the Castle. Perched on top of the hill is the Buda castle. It looks elegant during the day and looks lovely lit up in the evenings. It is visible from almost everywhere.To reach it we crossed the famous chain bridge on foot and then decided to ignore the castle funicular but instead took some stairs and a long escalator. Once the abode of the kings, it is now a world heritage site and views from there are lovely. It has gardens, museums and a full article can be written about the castle. Budapest is full of history and has seen many wars and destruction's. It had had even become a part of the Ottoman Empire in 16th century. The palace had been damaged many times but yet with restorations etc it stands tall. Many people take a walking tour which is very informative and takes you around the castle district which has great walking streets and not far from the castle is the famous Mathias Church.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge was considered to be an engineering marvel when it opened in 1849. It spans the Danube from Buda to Pest.
|The Mathias Church and the square around it is a big tourist attraction.|
|Need to know the prominence of Lions in Hungary. The statues are found on chain Bridge as well.|
|What these guys were doing outside Mathias Church- we never could find out !|
Thermal Baths of Budapest
|The outdoor pools. The front one is heated but one behind it is a lap pool and the water was cold.|
When someone asked me what I intended to do in Budapest, one of the things on top priority was thermal baths. Thanks to a unique geological feature, Budapest 'sits' on over 100 thermal springs that feed the city's famous bathhouses.
They have several plans written outside but we chose the basic entry one and a towel on rent. The price was approx HUF 4100 ( $ 15.00) and we could very much go everywhere and to any of the pools and each one of us had a locker also to store our goods.
On Saturday nights there are big parties in these thermal baths lasting till 3 AM and I wonder how they are. Hope people don't get drunk and make a mess everywhere.
The Danube Cruise
|Buda castle and adjoining areas look wonderful from the cruise boat as the sun sets.|
|Champagne time !|
|Romancing on the Danube !|
A Visit to the Ruin Pub - Szimpla Kert
|A Glenlivet at the pub|
You cannot be in Budapest and not visit one of their ruin pubs. The story started around 2001 when some derelict buildings were converted into pubs so the locals could get affordable drinks.
Szimpla Kert was the first ruin bar -- it moved around before settling into its home in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest’s seventh district in 2004. It has room after room serving liquor and food. The rooms are never ending and they continue as you climb the stairs. It has mismatched furniture. It has a garden. It has some kind of art. There are DJ's and loud music.
There are many ruin pubs in the city and they really are popular. The recipe is simple: search for an old building in downtown Pest, rent the cellar and the ground floor, do not renovate anything, invite some contemporary artists and designers, recreate the atmosphere of the 70’s, build a bar and serve some drinks, invite a band and be open until the morning comes. Some famous ones are Corvinteto, Durer Kert and Instant.
I enjoyed the atmosphere at Szimpla Kert and the drinks were much more affordable than most parts of Europe we had visited. The next day I wanted the kids to see how the pubs were created in such localities and out of nothing. I did show them the 'Instant' but unfortunately it was still early by the nightlife standards set by the city and all they could see was the decor and no people.
|Inside the Szimpla Kert- the most popular Ruin Pub|