|View of Pest and Parliament from the Fisherman's Bastion|
Jon and I spent Easter weekend in the breathtakingly beautiful and vibrant city of Budapest. This destination has been on out list as a "must-see" for quite some time and we were thrilled to finally be able to visit this Eastern European jewel. By the end of our three-night stay, we had fallen in love with this city, which we both feel is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Of course, it did help that we had sunny skies and warm weather our entire stay. After arriving on Friday morning and checking into our hotel, we immediately dropped our bags and began exploring the city. First stop.... Buda!
Castle Hill: It's a Buda Thing
Although the city is officially known as Budapest, once there, everything is designated by Buda or Pest depending on what side of the Danube River you're referring to. Hilly Buda is dominated by Castle Hill, while flat Pest is the commercial heart of the city. We spent our first afternoon in Buda after hiking across the Chain Bridge, which opened in 1849 and was the first permanent dry link between Buda and Pest.
Once at the top of the hill, we immediately were in awe of the gorgeous neo-gothic architecture of Matthias Church. A statue of St. Stephen, the first Christian King in Hungary who tamed the nomadic, pagan Magyars, looks on to the church.
|At the cafe in one of the towers of Fishermen's Bastion|
|Sipping a glass of Rose with an outstanding view below|
|Communist-era Trabants are still quite common on the streets of Budapest|
|Matthias church reflected in the glassy, modern Hilton Hotel|
|After our delightful afternoon in Buda, we crossed back over the Chain Bridge to Pest amidst a glorious sunset|
Budapest by Bike
|Our bike tour in front of Vajdahunyad Castle|
|As usual, Jon was the entertainer of our tour, wow-ing everyone with his many bike tricks|
The Life Aquatic
Although the Danube is Budapest's most famous body of water, it's the therapeutic water spewed up daily by 100-odd hot springs that sets local and tourists hearts aflutter. There are over a dozen thermal baths in the city, and Szechenyi Baths is the best. Having lived in Wiesbaden, where thermal springs also abound, I was no stranger to a day at the bath, however, this gigantic complex was like none I'd ever seen. Inside is the thermal bath section with numerous pools each varying in different temperatures, as well as several saunas and steam rooms. Outside is the swimming pool area with three pools. We spent Easter evening here and enjoyed soaking in the water and letting the healthy minerals do their thing after two days and nights of being on the go non-stop!
|Outside entrance to Szechenyi Baths|
|Swimming pool area of Szechenyi Baths. Yes, there were a LOT of speedos.|
|Entrance to House of Terror|
|House of Terror Museum|
|A Soviet tank and huge wall covered with portraits of the victims|
|Posing with Lenin|
|At Marxim - A pizzaria with communist memorabilia and kitsch|
When regimes fall, so do their monuments. People couldn't wait to get rid of these reminders of their oppressors. Various statues were gathered throughout Budapest and placed in a park, Memento Park, outside the city. It is a fascinating place to discover the Red old days. Jon and Lenin doing his famous "hailing a cab" pose.
|Charging into the future with our Soviet comrade|
Budapest by Night
Three days and three nights was simply not enough time to see all of Budapest, but we managed to see as much as possible by having both extremely full days AND nights. This was an incredible city for not only site-seeing during the day, but there was plenty of night-life to keep us occupied; from deciding on where to have dinner, to pub-hopping and a cruise down the Danube at night this city has something for everyone. Although we enjoyed each of our distinctly different nights out on the town, our one big night out began with a delicious dinner at Karpatia. We enjoyed delicious Hungarian and Transylvanian specialties with authentic live gypsy music.
After dinner, we trekked to the A38 Hajo (boat) moored on the Buda side of the Danube. This decommissioned Ukrainian stone hauler from 1968 has been reinvented as a party venue where we got the night started. Later, we made our way back to Pest where we stumbled upon a bar we had to stop in, if only for its name......, "Paris, Texas. "
|Paris, Texas Bar|
|A view of the bridges of Budapest (Liberty, Elizabeth, and Chain)|
|Liberty bridge and Gellert Hill|
|Chain bridge and Buda Castle|
|Parliament on left, Chain bridge, and Buda Castle on right|
|View of Buda's Castle Hill|
|Chain bridge and Matthias Church|
|Chain bridge and Buda Castle|
|Chain bridge and Matthias church|
One thing is certain, we will never forget this memorable and incredible weekend in Budapest!