The most vibrant city we have visited on our trip to date. Forget the self-consciousness of cities around the Med or the stuffiness of anything Germanic or French. This place has the lot, it is picture-postcard perfect, both natural and constructed, there seems to be an event or festival going on around every corner, the food is sensational and it has an atmosphere that just feels right. It even has a KFC. And when you consider the state the Germans left it in, without a bridge over the Danube and 80% of all buildings either damaged or destroyed then you get a big rosy smile at man’s achievement to recover from adversity despite the best efforts of the Evil Soviet Empire to stop them. Thank God they decided to reconstruct it as it was instead of doing a Coventry and turning a beautiful City into a concrete crap-hole only fit for miserable looking popsters to sing ska-based ditties about. Budapest, we love you.
German Contribution to Architecture 1945
The Journey 20/04/2016
Until the outskirts of Budapest the journey along the motorway is dull, flat and an un-interesting time with the boredom only broken by the spotting of vehicles from weird and wonderful countries that spring up in areas of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. We manage to bag our first Moldova. We have no idea where it is but they are probably odds-on to win the next Eurovision Song Contest.
We are in a campsite that was previously a Tram Terminus and also hosts a chair-lift to the top of the Buda hills for outstanding views over the city as well as a connection the Children’s Railway, a miniature line built by and operated by Children. Fantastic concept and I wish we had things like this back home.
Budapest Day 1 21/04/2016
This is a large city with ‘The Sights’ spread over a considerable area and to aid our visit we went for a Hoppity-on, Hoppity-off Bus tour that also included a trip down the river to get a different perspective of the attractions. We caught a local bus from our campsite and were in the centre ready to board our tour bus within 25 minutes. I must admit I hate the ‘op-on’ concept after spending a miserable couple of hours touring around the tenement blocks of Barcelona. But this was worth it as unlike Barcelona it has quite a lot to see and provided a good grounding for us to dive in later over the next couple of days. We went on both routes before finding a square with live music and street food on offer where we sat down, noshed and grooved in the warm spring sunshine before heading home. A great first day.
Funicular and Chain Bridge
We can be Heroes Too
From the Lookout
Budapest Day 2 22/04/2016
Another sunny day in our goulash-infused paradise found us kicking off our day with a trip down the river. Unfortunately this ain’t no Thames cruise. As much as we like this place it is hard to drum up a lot of enthusiasm about our trip upon The Danube. The problem is you have already seen all the sites many times from every angle from the shoreline and there is nothing new to be seen. A bit of a shame bit is was not going to put a downer on proceedings. We still took some pictures though.
Chain Bridge from Boat
Italian Coach Driver
On disembarkation we had a beer and with renewed vigour we trundled over the bridge and caught the funicular up to Castle Hill. This is the twee part of Budapest with castles and other older-worldly places to walk around and also fine views are offered over this vantage point to the Pest side of the city. We had a quick stroll around and walked along the battlements of The Fisherman’s Bastion before walking back down the hill and crossing the river for some food and music in our new favourite square.
Funicular and Budapest
Stop wearing make-up
Man with extra-long brown arms and Fisherman’s Friend
Today Tracy had a grilled Salmon and I had for the first time in many a year, an Eastern Europe Favourite; a pig on a stick and it was tremendous. Washed down with a dribble of Hungary’s finest bought a close to another great day.
Budapest Day 3 23/04/2016
After wandering around and taking in the sites it was time to dig deeper in to this wonderful city. Not for us a trip out on the Metro to the suburbs to see the real Budapest but into the Central Market to see what tourists take home for presents. We were really looking forward to this as we were led to believe it was a functioning market. It is not. The meat stalls look genuine enough but that is as far as it goes. Would you buy ‘Original Hungarian Lace’ on the same stall that is knocking-out fake football shirts? I think not. A shame really that the locals have lost a traditional place to shop, just like London. The Building is a wowser though, reminds me of Crystal Palace.
Next we went to ‘The Whale’, the old customs sheds that have now been turned into a; complete waste of space. We wondered around the empty, soulless building and left. We had one more picture to take of the river before we headed off by tube to the highlight of our trip; the model railway layout at Miniversium.
Bridge and Tram
We love a train set and this one here was a fine example. They have modelled Budapest, Hungary, Austria and Bavaria in varying degrees of accuracy and licence in one of the largest train-sets in the Europe. And yes we will be going to Hamburg to see ‘The Daddy’. We spent a good hour here pressing various buttons to make cows moo, Windmills turn, vehicles drive and branch-lines move. At this point in my life with Tracy operating a single-track branch line I was the happiest man in the world.
Budapest Eastern Station
We now had one last place to visit in Budapest and that was the House of Terror. This was the former headquarters of both the Nazi’s and the Hungarian Secret Police under the Communist Occupation who obviously were the same people. While we waited to go in we sat down and had a beer and watched a wedding parade walk by and mass cycle-by along Andrassy Avenue.
Wedding Walk Past
The House of Terror is a museum dedicated to the victims who were tortured or lost their lives under the German and Russian occupation of Hungary. It is a brilliant exhibit with many videos of the victims telling their stories. A moving place that you could spend a whole day in such is the depth of information on display. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures and so you will have to take our word for it that it is a must-see if you ever visit Budapest. So we only had one last thing to do before we left and that was to have a Hungarian Doughnut, a Skurtoskalacs. This appears to dough wrapped around a mould and then grilled on over hot coals. There are various flavours available and we went for Cinnamon. And like the rest of this fine city it was delicious. Budapest, our new favourite.
Love to All