I spent two days in Budapest and it was magical. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I would put Budapest on a list of top 5 places I’ve been in my lifetime. There language is uncomprehend-able and their currency is absurd with too many zeros but everything else was amazing.
Day 1 Arrival.
I arrived by train from Vienna. The train was 2.5 hours and I got my own compartment like in the Harry Potter movies for the first 1.5 hours, then a big Hungarian family joined me and kept trying to include me in a conversation that I couldn’t follow if my life depended on it. Even me directly saying, “English! I only speak English” did not deter them from me trying to learn Hungarian in 1 hour. I arrived, went to the hotel and dropped my bags off. I headed out to lunch and then went for a spa day at the thermal baths (see next post about thermal baths).
After R&R I changed again and went to the river for a boat tour. It was a little cheesy because it was only an audio guide with video but it was a good introduction to the city. Buda is on the east of the river and Pest (pronounced Pescht) is on the west side of the river. It was a little confusing because they kept going back and forth between the sides and I only had one glass of champagne! The sights of the city lit up are incredible—actually beyond words.
Day 2 Tour
I went on another bus tour and this one was a little better because we got to see both sides of the river and get some amazing pictures of each side. We saw Fisherman’s Bastion, Mattias Church, Libery Statue, Buda Royal Palace, Holy Trinity Square—all on Buda side. And Hero’s Square, Hungarian Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Chain Bridge, Grand Market, Dohány Street Synagogue—on the Pest side.
After the bus tour, I walked back to a few of the sights on the Pest side to get a better view. I also stopped at the Shoes on the Danube Memorial which remembers the victims of WWII who were forced to line up along the river to be shot.
Budapest is full of history and I think it’s absolutely fascinating how quickly an entire city bounced back from so much pain and suffering. We drove past a simple cross statue on a hill and the guide pointed out that when the Communists took over after WWII, there was a Stalin Statue there. It just goes to show that the “supposed” rescue after WWII still caused a lot of pain. Traveling around Europe has showed me how small of a space I occupy in this grand world. I have learned so much about perspective traveling around and seeing history for myself than I could have ever learned in a textbook.
This was definitely a quick trip because on day 3, I was back on a train to Vienna to fly back to Madrid. I would go back to Budapest in a heartbeat to explore more and learn more about this fascinating city.