Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Trip #3 - Budapest, Hungary

We have been making the most of opportunities to travel around Europe lately and with a three day holiday weekend for Children's Day? Perfect chance to getaway. [Sidebar: apparently this is not just a Turkish holiday, although the Turks combine it with sovereignty day or the day the national assembly was established.  According to my online 'research' the US celebrates Children's day as well - am I the only one who missed this growing up?]

We continued our streak as we travelled North through Eastern Europe (Turkey > Bulgaria > Romania > Hungary; guess we need to try Poland next!) to Budapest, Hungary. I will have to say this is probably my favorite city we have visited since moving to Turkey. It is the perfect, quaint European town, despite boasting a population of nearly 2 million people.

The weather was yet again predicted to be rainy, but we ended up having nearly perfect weather with only a light, quick spring shower on Saturday night. I'm starting to wonder about these weathermen. We were leisurely tourists again, wandering aimlessly, enjoying cafes and definitely some good Hungarian food, which came along with jokes about being hungry in Hungary. Yes, that happened quite a bit.

Weirdest thing about Budapest? The currency. The exchange rate is somewhere around 220 HUF to 1 dollar. That means a meal usually cost around 3,000 - 4,000 HUF; 200 HUF is in a coin and we even got a 20,000 HUF bill from the ATM. Needless to say, I had trouble keeping the conversions straight all weekend.

 Chain Bridge - looking across to Pest

Matthias Church - also converted to mosque when the Ottomans came into town.  
Man, those Turks were everywhere

                             View from the top of St Stephen's basilica                                  Inside the Basilica                       

 St. Stephen's basilica at night

 Oh, did I forget to mention we did a segway tour? 
I promise I was much better at it than I look in this picture

Favorite pic of the trip - notice Paul's dancing on the segway

Quick History
- In its long history, it has been controlled by Romans, Magyars, Ottoman Turks and the Communists
- It is actually two distinct cities - Buda and Pest, which are separated by the Danube
- They were under communist rule until 1990 - ya, that's right, the 90's. Luckily, unlike Romania, alot of the historic and beautiful buildings were left intact during this rule

What to see
- Chain Bridge: it gives you a great view of the Danube and is a beautiful bridge
- Matthis Church and Fisherman Bastion: after crossing the Chain Bridge, get a ticket for the funiculer to get great views on your way to the top to see Matthis Church. We didn't go inside, but the roof is something like you have never seen before
- Parliament Building: get a great view from the Buda side of town; take the metro over to the Parliament and night is an especially good time to see it all lit up
- St. Stephens Basilica (and HAND!): take a quick peek around the inside, view St Stephens hand (and he died around 1100 AD) , then head up to the top to see great views of the city. Afterwards, head back down to grab something to eat.  Our favorite restaurant? Tom George's
- City Park and Hero's Square: This is a great place to people watch and enjoy beautiful weather of Budapest
- Jewish District: this is a great neighborhood to wander around, with lots of restaurants and pubs.  We tried Szimpla Budapest - it has a quirky vibe that reminds me of a hole in the wall place you would find somewhere like Austin

1 comment:

  1. Romania is a very wonderful place to visit. They have many attraction spots that will entice you to move to Romania forever ^_^

    Romania is known to have many folk lore am I right?