Bienvenue à Budapest! 🇭🇺
We were so excited to get to Budapest as it meant seeing our son Mathieu, who was meeting us there. These past several days have been busy and touristy, as we wanted to take in as much of Budapest during our time here as we could. I think we succeeded without going too crazy! 😊
Mathieu was camera shy all week but we did manage to coax him into a couple of photos and we captured him a few times off guard. 📸 😊But rest assured he was there every step of the way!Budapest was well worth the extra miles with did by bus from Zagreb to get here. We had always regretted not having visited Budapest when we cycled along the Danube river a few years ago. We are so happy now that we included it in this year’s itinerary as its been an awesome week.
Travelling and seeing different countries & cultures is always an amazing experience. In Eastern Europe, we have now visited three beautiful capitals; Budapest, Prague and Vienna. These three sister cities are absolutely stunning to the eye and have each their unique histories and cultures. All three cities feature grandiose architecture that is captivating by its size and detail.Budapest was historically two cities, Buda in the west and Pest in the east. They came together in 1873 to form what is now the whole city of Budapest. Both sides are separated by the beautiful Danube river.
Here below is a glimpse of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge which joins the two sides. This is just one of a few main bridges that connect both sides.With the photo below which we took from an elevated viewpoint, gives a closer view of the impressive Parliament Building. It’s no wonder that it’s a central landmark of the city. This Parliament Building’ architecture is one of the few iconic Neo-gothic buildings in all of Europe. It’s simply gorgeous.
On our first day in Budapest, we visited a memorial site which is now for us one of the most impactful, moving and powerful memorials we have ever seen. It is located just a few steps away from the Parliament building, on the edge of its riverbank. This memorial was inspired by victims of the Holocaust who died here. They were ordered to take off their shoes and were shot at the edge of the water and their bodies horribly fell into the river. This memorial is a representation of their shoes left behind on the bank. There are sixty pairs but this is only a small representation of the hundreds who died here. You see flowers, wreaths and lighted candles to honour all these people. At night the shoes are seen under the glow of the Budapest city lights and the moon. Clearly, this memorial stirred for us some strong emotions as it does everyone!
Within the Jewish faith, it is customary to leave small stones on graves. Placing a stone on a grave serves as a sign to others that someone has visited that grave. There are a number of small stones in the shoes at this memorial.
Later that morning we visited the St. Stephen’s Basilica (below). In Europe there are many churches to visit indeed, however, sometimes you get drawn by some of these churches’ exteriors as they are so beautiful and grand. This basilica was certainly drawing us inside. It is so imposing with beautiful mosaic stained windows. What was bizarre for us is that we kept talking about the beauty of this church throughout the day and then that evening we heard that a fire had broken out in the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
One of our next stop was at the Central Market Hall to see what goodies we could find in there. We were actually on the hunt for lángos. It is a Hungarian bread snack that is deep-fried to a crispy light crust on the outside and soft on the inside. We choose the classic lángos which is topped with sour cream, garlic butter and shredded cheese. This snack has now evolved to include additional toppings such as chicken, bolognese sauce, etc. We found it had some similarities to nachos without all the extras.
While there, Mathieu went on the hunt for a Hungarian liquor known as Unicum. It’s 40% alcohol. The secret blend consists of more than forty different herbs and spices. Unicum is known as one of the national drinks in Hungary. We had it later that evening as an apéritif before dinner. WOW, was it every potent! Here are a few photos of our day at the Market!
The next morning we decided to let Mathieu sleep in as he hadn’t totally recovered from the time difference and we headed very early to The Fisherman’s Bastion which is located on Castle Hill. This is the most visited site in Budapest. As you get closer to it you are drawn to its amazing beauty and fairytale-like structure. It’s a pavilion that overlooks the Danube and the Pest side of Budapest. The towers represent the seven tribes of the Magyar who are the first to settle in the region. It is called the Fisherman’s Bastion because when war broke out many years ago, the fisherman guarded the castle wall. This stone wall structure looks as though it could have won the world’s best sandcastle competition.
This beautiful place is also one of the most photographed sites in Budapest. You have to get there very early if you don’t want to be swarmed by people. The morning we were there, probably around 7am there were already some people, mostly people who had gotten all dressed up to get photographed. Here below is a partial look at the site. You would need a wide-angle lens in order to photograph it in its entirety.
You can see why this becomes a perfect setting for beautiful photos.
Here’s a few photos of me at this beautiful landmark taken by my own personal photographer!😊
I wasn’t all dressed up but we decided to join in on the photo shoot scene. I’d say my hubby did a pretty good job, considering his difficult subject!😊
To reach the Fisherman’s Bastian you get to take this cool looking funicular or simply walk up the hill and admire some spectacular views.
Later in the week we returned with Mathieu to Fisherman’s Bastian but I was only allowed one photo of the guys!😊 This particular day I was lucky to get this shot without hundreds of tourists getting in my way. Insane!
Budapest is absolutely beautiful by night! Now I understand why you often see many photos of it at night. Due to my limited night photography skills, I decided to join in on a night photography tour so I could get some additional tips on using my camera at night time. I certainly did not want to miss out on this one opportunity to photograph this city at night. They take you to unique places in the city where you can be guaranteed to see spectacular night views. So here are some of my results which also for me will capture some beautiful moments of this wonderful evening. I still need to do some practising but was satisfied with some of my results. 😊
Budapest has many, many monuments around the city. There is a history at every corner. You can’t help but take a step back and admire these imposing statues and read about what they represent.
When strolling the streets of Budapest, think, stunning houses, beautiful architecture, cobbled stone streets and lovely little cafes.
Hop on tram number 2 for a quick and cheap tour of the city. You’ll go right past the Parliament Building, trail the river and see all the stunning sites of Budapest.One of the best things about Budapest is its lovely thermal spas. At first, we were not sure we’d get to one but one morning we got up really early and we headed for the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. This thermal water spa in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs and the temperature is naturally very warm and soothing. The water was 28C the morning we were there. It was awesome being outdoors that early in the morning with the sun warming us when we would step out from the pools. This was certainly a relaxing way to spend a few hours. 😊We left feeling completely energized and rested.
We ate really well in Budapest and people are not lying when they say it’s cheap there, so it’s a great place to visit if you have a tighter budget. Mathieu did our homework and we found some pretty amazing eating places (nothing fancy) with great food. One favourite was Meatology. This was Mathieu’s pick. Even though they are well known for there meat menu I decided to try the salmon. I was a bit skeptical at first because they specialize in meat dishes, but I thought what the heck. Let me tell you it was the best salmon dish I’ve had in years at a restaurant. Spiced and cooked to perfection and served with a pesto pasta. Don’t hesitate even one second to order fish if you go there. I even caught a shot of Mathieu at this place. 😊 📸
We couldn’t resist trying out a few cafés during our stay in Budapest and we had done a been of reading up on some reviews beforehand. The first one we aimed for was the stylish, historical café, New York Café in the Boscolo Hotel. This café, along with a restaurant and a cigar bar is part of a luxury hotel. Of course, when we arrived, there was a huge line up to get in. When we walked in we were speechless by its lavish decor and kept gazing upwards to the ceiling to its breathtaking beauty. We’ve now visited a number of these iconic cafés in Europe and we must say this one is the winner by far. The staff were also very friendly and attentive even with a packed house. We decided that we would spend a few more forints to get a plate of desserts. Scrumptious! The day we were there it was the Easter weekend and they had a group of musicians playing beautiful background music for the occasion. Watching the world go by and listening to the beautiful music from our little table was heavenly!
We also found a couple of independent cafés that were awesome. One of them called Fekete Café was a favourite. Here’s a few pic’s.
We always had time for an afternoon break that included a beverage. When you read the information on Budapest they always mention the ruin bars as a must-see. There are a few of them, but Szimpla Kert, is the city’s most famous one. These drinking spots are built in Budapest’s old District VII neighbourhood (the old Jewish quarter) in the ruins of abandoned buildings. So our first stop was at Szimpla Kert! When you first walk in, you don’t know if you should laugh or cry. This is probably the most eccentric bar I’ve ever been too! The decor is a collection of random quirky objects. They must have visited their local thrift store for the decor. Anyway, it was a fun afternoon and believe us when we tell you this place probably has a maze of 20 themed rooms of what I would call junk! 😊BUT I might be alone in that opinion! Have a peek!
One of our next beverage spot was Café Robotics. (click the link to check out their Facebook page, cool). Within a couple of days, we went from having drinks in a place of quirky objects to having drinks in a place of the future! Just have a look at these photos and it will explain it all! Meet REGGELI ! He got a good tip for his excellent service!
We ended our fabulous week in Budapest with a special Easter treat from Gelarto Rosa. Be prepared to stay in line for 30 minutes! The guys were not impressed but stopped complaining once they got to taste it! Three beautiful ice cream roses were worth the wait!🌹
What we enjoyed about Budapest –
1. Having Mathieu with us.
2. For some reason, we enjoyed comparing the three sister cities. From our perspective, Prague is the prettiest of the lot but we never felt totally safe there. We always seemed to on our guard, careful. It’s very compact, so always many people in one place at a time. Vienna, well it’s refined, classy and beautiful. Budapest is definitely the friendliest and can certainly hold its own in regards to its splendour, beauty and dramatic history. The Hungarian Jewish community in this city is the largest in Central Eastern Europe and its Jewish district is one of the most lively and interesting areas of the city. We absolutely loved Budapest and would have probably stayed here even longer. We felt totally safe here.
What we didn’t find here –
Was a lack of tourists. But we certainly understand now why they all want to be there. 😊
Our Airbnb was really, really nice. Probably the biggest apartment we’ve stayed in so far with a loft bedroom upstairs. My only reservation to others to consider is the time of year you would be staying there. Because it’s a loft bedroom and no air-conditioning unit it would definitely be too warm. We noticed it a bit the last two nights there as the temperature outside was around 24C.