Since the Magi wanted to offer us a special gift to start the year on the right foot, we could not miss this visit to Budapest.
Weekend getaway to Budapest, starting with Buda
We fly with a low cost company, a bargain. It is clear that the leg room and service is what it is, but enough for an hour and a quarter from Italy. Perfect take-off and landing with hand luggage, very fast airport entrances and exits. We arrived at night, so the feeling of waking up in Budapest the next day was great. Above all, because we were very lucky with time. For January 7th and sun are a luxury in this city!DO YOU WANT TO PREPARE A TRIP TO BUDAPEST?
You already know that in addition to the ideas you get from this story, you have a whole newspaper available with your preparations and experiences in the Budapest travel guide already online in Keys
We decided to organize and dedicate ourselves to first day to buddhaWhere was our hotel, which by the way I will not recommend since we were not very happy (in the sense that the photos on the portal that we chose and the reality were pure coincidence) and on the second day we concentrated on Pest. The third day we would devote ourselves to what we wanted in a relaxing plan since our flight left in the afternoon to Rome. It must be said that this time we set the trip a bit "freestyle" (as I say). That is to say, nothing of obligations and with intentions of living the true and authentic atmosphere of the city so, buffet breakfast and at eight o'clock, ready already walking the streets of Buda towards the Fisherman's Bastion, one of the most representative places in the city where he deserves a good time to observe the city from above, especially the Parliament, and take pictures. The Bastion is a relatively recent neo-gothic and neo-romantic lookout point (completed in 1902) and has seven towers that represent the seven tribes that founded the cities of Buda and Pest that would later join. It will be impossible to escape from its arches in less than an hour. I do not know how but when you realize you are already hooked to the beauty of this city that whispers to you from there below and you want to capture it at all costs with the aim of your camera.
I think you have to go into the Matthias church, which is a real wonder. In fact, we observe that many tourists do not do it because it is paid and in winter it has limited schedules. Badly done. Matthias Church says that since the first Hungarian sovereign, St. Stephen I, has undergone many modifications. It is a Catholic church (dedicated to Mary) and in the period when Buddha was under the Turkish empire it was also a mosque. He has witnessed great events in the city such as the coronation of one of his kings. It is essential to observe the frescoes and the stained glass.
We continue walking towards Royal Castle where the History Museum is located, a four-story museum that tells the history of the city from the Middle Ages to the present. Also for art lovers is the National Gallery where you can lose yourself for hours. Another suggested thing that we did not do is visit the underground labyrinth of the castle. We will leave it for another occasion in which I make some more graduates since in January the Mediterranean took the issue of cold and humidity quite badly. You can go up and down the hill with a very picturesque funicular that is located in that area, but you need patience because it is unique and there are queues. I imagine that in summer it will be almost impracticable, given the number of visitors. It must be taken into account that this was one of the pioneer cities in trams in Europe and today it has multiple lines that run over the entire old town and that are very practical as public transport. They even run parallel to the Danube. A good idea to avoid traffic at peak times when the center does not suffer, but the surroundings of the city. For example, it took us more than an hour to get to the airport due to traffic and it was Monday, so I advise you of alternative means or leave a little earlier. As soon as you cross the city bypass, the infrastructures change completely and the traffic lights hung by cables and the holes in the roads begin (which now remind me so much of our beloved Bulgaria).
We descend from the hill to go down a path and arrive at the Chain Bridge, one of the most characteristic that cross the Danube and I can no longer avoid jumping in excitement. I've been wanting to come to this city for so long! This is the oldest suspension bridge linking the two cities, Buda and Pest. It is maintained by a chain structure, that's why they called it that and it was built as a solution to cross from one city to another, especially in periods when the river was not frozen and a boat was needed to move from one side to another. After its bombing in World War II, the one we can see today was rebuilt.
Giuseppe seems very happy. We walk a lot, every thing we find along the way surprises us and interests us, so we will not accuse tiredness until the night. We decided to approach The city's cathedral, St. Stephen's Basilica, the largest cult neoclassical building in the country With the biggest bell. We climb his dome. Another of those things that we both love is to walk near the clouds, towers, cathedrals, roofs ... we love the viewpoints! I think that in Japan we do not leave even one. From the cathedral you have different views of the city from those of Buda. Of course, there are many stairs, so if you are one of those who prefer to save some energy or have vertigo, you can take the elevator, skip this part or just go for a walk inside the temple.
We keep jogging towards one of the most lively areas of Budapest, Váci Utca. It is full of restaurants to eat quietly and get some rest. When we leave I realize that we are in the market district of Budapest, which is a must stop along the way. You can see it any day except Sundays, like any other market. It is the largest in the city and when it was first built, at the end of the 19th century, I create a lot of controversy. Also damaged considerably with the Second War, in the 1990s they decided to rebuild it and it has reached our days with enough activity. In the upper part you can buy all kinds of souvenirs (I do not recommend it, the prices are double that in other places of the city, perhaps because they know that it is attractive for tourists). On the other hand, if you are a lover of trying local food, its upper part is full of places where you can taste the quintessential Hungarian dish, and Gulasch, a kind of stew with legumes, meat, vegetables and paprika! If you don't feel like it, you can always buy something in the market. Salami is very famous. If you have room in your suitcase ... Go for it!
As it is getting late and it begins to get dark we return to the hotel walking along the entire shore of Buda. We rest for a while to go to dine at Sir Lancelot. We have read some reviews that speak well of this restaurant. Let's see what happens ... For Medievo lovers this restaurant can be curious. We are not enthusiastic about theme restaurants, but this time we get carried away by reviews. We end up with two huge sources of food before us, without cutlery and surrounded by eccentric characters who dance belly dance or throw fire torches. One tip, if you decide to go, each dish is enough for two people who have eaten regularly during the day. With children of growing age or very hungry, things change. The truth is that the food is not good. It has become a very popular place and is very rustic.
Not advised for people who lack a sense of humor or couples on their first trip. A little walk to digest? More tomorrow…
Second day to tour Pest
We get up with the idea of seeing Parliament in the sun. There are guided tours in all languages and you have to book it in advance. The building is really majestic, a true national symbol. Today the National Assembly meets in it. It also has a large library. In the same style as that of Westminster in London, it is characterized by its neo-Gothic style, its central dome and its suggestive night lighting. You will surprise yourself by taking photos from any angle at any time of the day.
A Sunday whim is the ferris wheel. Although it is cold, we climb to enjoy some turns of this unique landscape, with the sun that caresses us at that time of the morning. The inhabitants of the city, especially young people, love to come at night. The good thing is that you take a few turns. Its dimensions do not reach those of the London Eye, but it is another more dynamic view of Budapest. Very nice, I advise.
As Sunday in all cities has a special atmosphere, I have proposed the Giuseppe go to a different place. I have discovered that there is a building in the synagogue neighborhood, which can also be interesting, where they put a small market and is full of bars. There that day the Hungarians mix with the most curious visitors looking for something different. Is the Gozsdu Weekend Market. A small place to pause the road for the simple fact of its relaxing atmosphere and characteristic appearance.
And again on the move, in the afternoon we will approach the park of Balneario Széchenyi, one of the most renowned in the city, where you can buy tickets in advance or at the time. In high season I am one of those who always prefer prepayment, but in winter the thing is more flexible. Budapest is the paradise of thermal baths, so this is one of the most recommended for its dimensions and history. Also because it is located in a beautiful city park where you can get on a subway and observing some of its old stations, which seem like a story. In the park there is also a castle where you can take a walk before diving into the healing waters at high temperatures ...
We have been very entertained and it is getting dark. We decided to have a coffee at one of the city's historic coffee shops, the Coffee Central. It is a very cool place where you can have lunch or just have a sweet and coffee in the middle of the afternoon. A little expensive, but I loved the idea that there were pencils on the table and you could write your poem or thoughts on the tablecloth. I did not have to call the inspiring muses to enlighten me and there I left my verses planted fresh from my heart in the form of emotion. I thought about how many people, famous and common like me, would have been there until that moment.
And it's getting late, it's getting a little late and we have been able to see with the Wi-Fi from which dock the boats leave tonight, so we hurriedly hooking media there and we got to see an open box office. The option with dinner included is sold out (logical because in winter there is very little offer. Again, better to book online if you can). We bought some tickets with a lap of one hour and peak on the Danube with a glass (about 18 euros). As we need an hour to go out we take something quick to snack in a bar and we are ready to leave. You cannot miss this experience, without a doubt. The night on the river with all the illuminated buildings is really beautiful. With the headphones that explain more about what you see and the glass of champagne in hand, we are so few that it seems that the living room moves to show us the true spirit of the city.
Giuseppe looks at me, I know that glow in his big blue eyes. I am machining the walk for the morning of the last day through the mounds of Buddha ...
Last day with no fixed direction ... but with many surprises
The awakening of the last day is always a bit nostalgic. We spend the morning, fortunately under the sun, going up to the statue of liberty of the city. It is a fairly long journey down a hill that will help you burn some of those calories if you have turned purple to Gulasch. From there you can take panoramic photos of Pest, from a slightly more remote viewpoint. At the foot of the hill, if you haven't been yet, they are other of the most famous baths in the city, the Gellért. Its building is special and also has accommodation because it is a hotel. So, if your budget has no limits, it may be an option 10.
After the long walk and throwing some arrows with a friend archer who we are at the top, we are going to look the most popular ruined bar in the city, the Szimpla Kert. You cannot leave the city without entering a bar of these. If you are a party, in the evening they have a lot of activity and serve cocktails. During the day you can also eat something or just have a drink and go for a walk. His decline fascinates me! We are there for a long time and we decided that it is almost time to eat and go back to get our bags. But first, a good nutritious dish, we found a Hungarian food pub near the station where there are not many people. We get a good smell ... We ordered two meat dishes with garnish, which have a lot of stewed onion. And after laughing for a while and despairing with the slowness of the waiters, we left satisfied and happy to have found a little touristy place to eat and to have tasted something well cooked.
Then time is accelerating, although in the taxi, as I said before, we get stuck at the exit of the city the price of the city taxi company is not abusive, at the airport you can get a receipt with the maximum price of what you can pay to get to your destination, and if they call you, you can always ask for an approximate price in advance. That is why, next time, we will stay at Pest, to guarantee connections. Maybe another weekend on our own. And I say next time, because I think that Budapest is one of those cities, in which there is not one without two, nor two without three.
MIRIAM (the “Benjamina Keys”) and Giuseppe, from Budapest