So what have I been doing these past few days? Having an awesome time in Budapest, that’s what! Budapest is an old city with a lot of history, and some fantastic architecture to go with it. The ancient cities of Buda and Pest, facing off across the waters of the Danube, complement each other well.
In Pest (pronounced ‘pesht’), the Hungarian parliament building takes prime position along the river’s edge, and yellow trams shuffle locals and tourists alike between the busy shopping streets, squares and monuments. In the centre, the proud St Stephen’s basilica demands attention, and a short distance away in the Jewish quarter is the Great Synagogue. The main buzz and atmosphere in Budapest comes from the Pest side, having the major bars, restaurants and nightlife.
On the other side of the river, the hilly terrain of Buda rivals Pest’s flat plains. The hills sport many sights, least of all the sprawling Buda Castle, and the nearby residence of the President of Hungary (currently unoccupied due to a plagiarism row). Down the road is the Fisherman’s Bastion, next to the colourful-roofed church of St Matthias.
I was immediately taken with this city when I arrived and first started to explore. As per usual I was exploring unplanned, without even stopping to check a map, but I managed to see so much, largely because the main sights are so clearly visible. Walking along the Danube on both sides is a pleasure and provides numerous photo opportunities.
Of course, the best views of all are from the Buda hills, looking out over the city. There are many such viewpoints, but my favourite has to be from the Citadel, a fortress built by the Habsburgs, whose palaces I visited in Vienna. The Citadel lies at the top of Gellért hill and can be reached by bus or by the many hiking trails that weave web-like up the hill. It is well worth the climb for the commanding views that await you at the top.
I have a lot more to say about Budapest, but I’ll save that for another post.