I’ll start by explaining how I come to end up in Budapest. I had taken some time off work because of a really bad episode of my depression.
I was supposed to go to Sweden during my 4 days off work but I couldn’t face going. I got everything packed and the morning of I just couldn’t go. I had to make some phone calls to try and get my money back where I could. The one company that was the least helpful was Ryanair (no shock there).
I decided that I would still like to travel and I decided on the spur of the moment to book a trip. I had always wanted to go back to Budapest after having only spent one day there visiting a christmas market. You can read about that here.
So, book it I did and I must admit I was still quite anxious about travelling (I generally get a bit anxious before I go anywhere but this was anxiety coupled with the depression).
I decided that I was going to go anyway regardless of what the doctor said. I was glad I did go and it turned out to be a good trip.
Tuesday was the first full day of 3 I had on the sightseeing bus. I got there for the first bus so I could be guaranteed a seat – and a good one with a good vantage point for pictures at that.
As we were waiting for the bus to leave, all of a sudden I just heard sirens from out of nowhere and they were loud so I figured they were close. I got the phone out to take a video just in case they passed by the bus.
I timed it just right as they did pass by the bus. It was 2 coaches and they had a police car at the front and back escorting them. I managed to get a look in the bus and they were all dressed in business dress. Who knows who they were though.
We set off and I sat there enjoying the sun and then realising I forgot sun cream and after sun and I quickly came to the conclusion that I would burn rather than tan and that is exactly what happened!
There was so much to take in that I just couldn’t take it all in. I’m sure I missed tons more than I saw.
I decided that since I had a 3 day pass, I would just get off wherever took my fancy and carry on from there.
The first place I got off was at Heroes’ Square. The bus stopped for 15 minutes there for photo ops and the carried on. I was there about an hour as I had seen an ornate building that I thought required more exploration.
I wandered off to that building first and I am glad I did. It was really pretty. It was the Vajdahunyad vára
I spent about 20 minutes just wandering around here and also in the souvenir shop as I was on the lookout for a music box, flag, lanyard and magnet (I didn’t get anything from here).
Below are some pictures from the castle and grounds
After the castle, I headed back to the Heroes’ Square and had a wander around here for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the bus.
I continued the round up to the bottom of the hill where Budavári Palota is.
Here I picked up one of the other lines to explore along the river sides. I had noticed a couple of churches that I wanted to check out so decided that I would get off at the first stop and have a look around.
Below are some pictures of the churches and the Pest side of the city.
Once I was done here, I hopped back on and headed to the first stop so I could visit the castle district.
The first stop was the castle district and I skipped this and went to the Matthias Church. There are no words to describe the beauty of the building and the surroundings. It is surrounded by Halászbástya. I can’t do the beauty of it justice so here are a few pictures from here.
Once I had had a quick look round the castle district (I decided I would come back and visit for longer) I headed back down on the cart and picked up the bus again and headed to the Citadella and have a quick look round there.
I didn’t go too far up and went to a vantage point where I could get some good pictures of the Pest side of the city.
Here are some pictures from the vantage point.
Once I was done at the Citadel, I headed back to the hostel to get something to eat and drink and have a bit of a rest. Truth be told, my head was hurting from all the sun.
Once I was rested I headed out to the shopping streets for some souvenirs. I picked these up and decided to walk along the street and head up towards the Bazilika. I managed to get the below picture and I love how the cream of the building looks against the dark blue sky.
I headed back to the hostel and dropped off the souvenirs and then headed back out to pick up the sightseeing bus for the night tour. There’s just something magical about seeing a city in the dark evenings. This tour proved to be quite popular and people thought it was OK to queue jump so they could get good seats! (Tsk tsk)
Once the tour was done, I headed back to the hostel to bed down for the night.
I got up early today and decided that I would take full advantage of the nice weather while it was around.
I had a plan of what I wanted to do today but not sure in which order to do it. I decided to head for the bus and let it decide for me.
I got off at the stop for Chain Bridge as one of the places I decided I want to see was the Shoes on the Banks of the Danube. It is a memorial set up in 2005 to commemorate the Hungarian Jewish victims of the killings committed by the Arrow Cross militiamen, the pro-German, anti-Semitic, national socialist party members of Hungary in 1944-1945.
There are 60 pairs of shoes to represent the Jews that were lined up on the banks of the Danube and shot and then fell into the river.
It is a poignant reminder that the atrocities of the war were felt all over Europe. I think I spent around an hour here just contemplating what happened and also admiring the views on the other side – and being thankful that I was able to see those views without fearing for my life.
Below are a couple of pictures of the Buda side of the river and the Shoe Memorial
Once I was done here, I decided that I wanted to have a look around the Országház building and square. I remember being super impressed by it when Jamie and I were there. We didn’t get a chance to have a look around as we were tight for time.
The building was really close to the memorial so it was a no-brainer that I went there.
The building is really impressive and not like other parliament buildings I have seen before. It is set in the Kossuth Lajos Square along with the Ministry of Agriculture, The Museum of Ethnography and (which I didn’t realise at the time. Grrr to me!) The Szamos Chocolate Museum.
At the front of the parliament, there is a flagpole and there a 2 guards that walk around it all the time.
There was just that something about it. A picturesque square, with ornate buildings and a tram line running along it. I just can’t put my finger on it.
Below are some pictures from the square
After I was done, I hopped on a tram and headed back to the Széchenyi Lánchíd. I decided to walk across it to the Buda side of the city. How cliche though. Haha.
The bridge was completed in 1849 and was designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark and built by Scottish engineer Adam Clark (no relation). The bridge as blown up in 1945 by the retreating Germans and rebuilt by 1949.
It was supposedly given the name ‘Chain’ bridge as the links on it look like a bicycle chain.
I noticed there were quite a few love locks on the bridge (this is a custom that I think destroys the look of the bridge and a stupid custom at that).
Below are a couple of pictures of the bridge
Once I was over the other side of the bridge, I noticed and ice cream stall. Turns out it was a bad idea in more ways that one to get an ice cream. It was not good for my stomach or wallet. You paid depending on weight of the ice cream. Water was very expensive here to 800 HUF for water. This is almost £3. FOR A 500ML BOTTLE OF WATER. Robbery. My advice is to find a Spar or Tesco and get some water. Tesco do 1.5L bottles for 80HUF – about 30p.
I was going to go up the funicular to the castle grounds, but the queue for it and the sellers were very off putting.
I decided to take the castle cart and just get off at the first stop.
I don’t know what it is about being away from normal life, but walking around the castle grounds and then back down to the riverside was not an issue – back home and I barely want to walk from my bed to the bathroom. Haha.
Whilst the weather was awesome, I had a massive headache from no sun cream. I drank so much just up at the castle. I think I drank almost 2 litres there alone.The castle and grounds are really pretty and plentiful. I spent around 90 minutes at the top before having a wander down to the bottom.
I managed to get some really good pictures of the Pest side of the river too. As I was nearing the bottom of the grounds, I could feel the effects of the ice cream and I was determined it wasn’t going to stop me from getting my pictures.
Once done, luckily I found a restaurant that let me use the bathroom (I couldn’t possibly tell you how long I was there, state secrets and all that).
Below are a selection of pictures from the castle
Once I was done with my rest, I got the bus back to the Chain Bridge and had a wander across and hopped on the tram for a few stops and went to Szent Gellért tér. I spent about 20 minutes here before heading back to the tram to Batthyány tér as I wanted to see the Szilágyi Dezső téri református templom. I had seen these from the other side and it looked different to others I had seen so I wanted to get some pictures of it.
Below are the pictures
Once done here, I then headed back to the hostel so I could get settled and ready for the Apple Launch event. I was done for the day once I got back.
Today was the last day I had of the Hop On Hop Off tickets and I hadn’t been on the boat yet so I decided that I would do that.
I took a leisurely stroll to the Basilica to pick up the bus. They didn’t have a direct bus there like it said so I just got on and sat on the bus enjoying the cool breeze and the sun until I got to the stop for the boat.
The stop I got off at was Március 15. tér. March 15th is a public holiday in Hungary and is in memory of the 1848-1849 Revolution and War of Independence.
I wanted to come back here as I wanted to have a look around the square and also inside the church. Well, it’s a church and a different one and this is me. Why wouldn’t I!
I had a look around the square, but didn’t get to look inside the church as they had a service going on. I noticed they had an organ recital going on later on in the day so I thought it might be good to go back and listen to it.
Once I looked around the square, I headed to the dock to pick up the boat. Thankfully there were quite a few seats left so I got to sit against the edge ready for some good pictures.
The boat tour was around 90 minutes I think. I can’t remember. It was so boring. The commentary was rubbish and the boat was super slow. It felt like I was there for a lifetime.
I think it may have been better if I hadn’t already had views of the city from either side of the river.
It took us all the way to Margaret Island and round the top of it and back. I decided to put on some music for the ride back to the dock. What else would you listen to whilst sailing down the Danube other than Strauss and The Beautiful Blue Danube.
In case you don’t know what it sounds like, below is a video of it.
Below are some pictures taken from the boat and also back at the square.
After I was done here, I found something to eat and drink and got back on the bus and headed to the Citadella. I decided that I wanted to go right up to it and look around rather than just to the vantage point.
Being so high up, there were some amazing views from there. I think I spent about 90 minutes here (partly because I was trying to arrange my ride back to the airport from the hostel – without success. Note: Don’t use Holiday Taxis. They are rubbish).
Below are some of the Citadel and the amazing views
Once I was done here, I headed to the stop by the market and decided to hop on a tram to kill some time before the organ recital. During the tram ride, I managed to find a McDonald’s so I could eat. I was hungry again and super thirsty. Once I was done with food, it was time to hop back on the tram to go to the church for the recital.
The church is called Budapest-Belvárosi Nagyboldogasszony Főplébánia-templom. One of the claims to fame is that Franz Liszt played a lot of his works here.
If you are unsure of his works, below is one of his most famous pieces – Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2
The inside is a mix of really old, old, fairly new. Below are some pictures from the inside.
Once the recital was over, I headed back to the bus stop and got off at the Basilica and had a look around for some more souvenirs to bring back. I found some that I thought would be good, but wanted to look elsewhere to see what I could find. I then headed back to the hostel to chill for the night. Sadly for me, a group of loud girls had been put in the room and they were really inconsiderate. Oh well, karma is fun!
Today was the last full day I had in Budapest and I had deliberately made no plans. The only thing I really wanted to do was go to the Basilica and get some pictures inside and also from the top. I had a bit of a lie in before I set off for the day.
I can’t accurately do the Basilica justice by describing it so I will just put some pictures below. Needless to say, if you are in Budapest and don’t go to it you are seriously missing out!
The lift fee is totally worth it for the views you get. It costs around 500 HUF – roughly £1.30
Once I was done here, I set off in search of food and drink (I had very little water left). I decided to hop on a tram by the hostel and go right to the end point of it – this is something I don’t usually leave until the last day. Budapest was different as there was so much to do in such a little area.
I had a wander around at the end point but there really wasn’t anything there other than a train station. I got on a different route and did the same thing.
This is pretty much all I did for the rest of the day. I was tired and needed to be away from the sun as my head was pounding. Again – bring sun cream kids. It will save a lot of pain!
I had to get to bed early this night as it was a 4am wake up for me to get to the airport in time for my flight. I ended up getting a bus to the airport. Remember what I said about karma? Well, the noisy girls were still noisy and had come back and were trying to sleep. I put the light on so I could make sure I had everything and then went for a shower. They turned the light off whilst I was in the shower. I turned it back on and got ready and left. Yeah – karma, kids. It’s not fun when you are on the receiving end of it!
Everything at the airport was pure confusion. Nobody knew how to get through security or where the priority and non priority queues were.
Below are some of the pictures from the rest of the day.
All in all, this was an awesome trip and definitely needed to lift me out of the deep depression that I had started to fall into.
Budapest is somewhere I will definitely go to again as it is such an awesome city. I would highly recommend it!
You can view all of my Budapest pictures here