Budapest Walkabout

Surrealism exhibit in the Buda Castle.. that’s just unbelievably great. There’s another castle type thing on the Buda hills over here not to far away called Fisherman’s Bastion. Might as well take a peek.

We’re a little further above the funicular now and the view across the Danube and chain bridge back on the city is spectacular.

Great mow job here in front of a building that’s being restored.

We’re now in the first district of Budapest. Seems like there’s an outpouring of history up in these hills. Lots of colorful old buildings and badass sculptures and statues every 100 feet.

Smells like Nirvana

We get over to Trinity Square and there are a lot of folks milling about, anxiously watching the dark clouds amassing overhead.

Look at this Gothic beauty.. what do we have here?

The Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle, aka Matthias Church. Built in 1015, Gothic’d in the 14th century and restored in the 19th. Two kings were crowned in this joint, one was Franz Joseph I whose sarcophagus we saw in the Kaisergruft in Vienna. Amazing pattern on the roof.

Beside the church are the walls of Halászbástya, or Fisherman’s Bastion. A Neo-Romanesque series of stairs, terraces, and towers along a wall built in 1895. This area of the city walls was entrusted to The Guild of Fisherman who passionately guarded it during the Middle Ages, living just below here in Fishtown.

Incredible panorama of the city up here on this high fantasy looking heritage site. 

That parliament building across the Danube over there is so nuts.

Looks like there is a cafe up in this crazy tower thing

We get to the top and there is a small cafe with a terrace overlooking the Danube and Pest. You have to buy drinks to be in there. Eyebrows from MacKay, “Yeah, why not.”

We go inside and they’ve got multiple propane heaters blasting trying to entice people out of the chill weather and impending rain. The hostess smiles at us, “Welcome gentleman, would you like to sit inside or out?”, “Outside I think. Give us your most romantic table, please”, “Ha! Ok, let’s go see.”

She leads us outside to the terrace. Killer view. “This is it, the most romantic table in Hungary!”, “Haha, nailed it!”,”How many beers do you need?”, “How many are in there?”, “You want all the beer?!”, MacKay is cutting this charade off, “No, no just coffee. I’ll take a latte”, “Ok, a latte. And what coffee for you?”, “Beer type of coffee please. You sold me”, “Oh yes! Hungarian beer ok?”, “Yep.”

Perfect. Well it’s about to rain actually, but after walking around for a while this little pause is nice.

A couple of middle-aged empty-nester ladies are eyeing us up from the next table, “Are you Canadian?”, MacKay spins around, “Yep! Jersey gave it away, eh?”, “McDavid, for sure. Are you from Edmonton?”, “Nah we’re both from Nova Scotia. Just lived there for a couple years though”, “Oh where’d you move to?”, “Nowhere. Just travelling right now, then we’ll see”, “…ok. Wow, that’s great. We’re both from Ontario”, “Oh yeah. Toronto?”, “Basically. Ajax area”, “Can’t say I know Toronto well enough to pinpoint Ajax. How are you enjoying Budapest?”, “Oh it’s fantastic!”

Nice peeps. Having a girls trip away from their families. They’re going up through Vienna and Prague after this, kind of the opposite direction as us. We give them some highlights from our adventures in those parts and they’re getting excited about it. Unfortunately the rain picks up a bit and their drinks are done so they wish us well and get on their way.

The server comes over to ask if we want another drink but we decide we’ll start making our way to the other bridge and parliament before the rain really starts in. “Did you want a romantic picture at least?”, “Oh yes, of course!” This server is great, really leaning into the initial joke. I hand her my phone. “Oh yes. There it is. Very sexy. So much romance. The heat keeps the rain away…” she just keeps going like this and we’re busting up pretty good by the time she hands the phone back.

“Good?”, “Ya, that’s great, thank-you”, “Wait wait. Another one with more background. You know?”, “Sure, sounds great.”

We thank the server and pay for our drinks. She’s still cracking jokes and the whole place is laughing at our terrace shenanigans. We come down the back steps. This place is so unreal looking.

We start heading back down to the Danube and North towards the other bridge. We’re weaving through random streets and finding staircases between.

We stumble upon the Hungarian Heritage House. “Whaddya think?”, “Would rather get closer to the hostel in case the rain really starts coming on”, “Sure. Let’s just get to Parliament then. Closer to home.”

Another impressive church down by the water

The Hungarian Parliament Building. Would be cool to just hop a water taxi over there but I don’t see any.

I spot some Lime scooters and figure we can save some time if we snag a couple over to Parliament and toss them in the Danube after. Unfortunately, MacKay doesn’t have a phone number and thus can’t receive the 2-step authentication text to activate an account which in turn activates the scooter soooo… fail.

It’s not that far a walk though and the scenery here by the Danube is well worth taking our time with anyways.

We get over to Margaret Bridge and the rain is still just teasing a bit. To the North of the bridge is a small island named Margaret Island.

Not sure how we got on the topic but, “…bunch of MacDonald’s knock off bars called Rotten Ronnies”, “Oh fuck yeah! Just serving drunks nuggets right there at the bar? Deadly”, “And the servers could be all the MacDonald’s characters but methed out or sluttier”, “Not sure how you make Grimace slutty… but Bailey’s McFlurry please!”, “Hamburgler serving you fries and shots until close…”, etc…

Which, of course, then leads into, “…was Hungry Eyes the one Swazye did?”, “No dude, She’s like the Wind”, “Oh right!”

Budapest is still producing cool statues every hundred yards or so, nonstop.

The rain is done teasing as we get around to Parliament. It starts coming down and we’ve picked up the pace. We rush over to the doors hoping to get out of it before we get too wet aaaand… closed. On a Wednesday? Hmmmm.

Hungarian Parliament

Well we’ll just take a look around then. Budapest is seriously unreal. Everything is so grand and pristine and lovely.

The Kossuth monument dedicated to former Hungarian Regent-President Lajos Kossuth.

The Hungarian Museum of Ethnography

Are those bullet holes?

Pockmarks in the walls are a memorial to the victims of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It started as a student revolt against the Hungarian People’s Republic and it’s Soviet influence. The state police opened fired and killed multiple students. The revolution spread quickly, thousands forming up into militias, and the government collapsed. The new government intended to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and establish free elections. The Soviets said no, brought a force over and crushed the rebellion leading to mass arrests and 200,000 fleeing refugees.

Liberty Square

The rain lightens up a little bit, thankfully. We pass by a Ronald Reagan statue (who’s seen as instrumental in ending the Cold War thus freeing Hungary from the Soviet Union) and come to a large central park area called Liberty Square. For some reason there is a cardboard version of Fisherman’s Bastion in here.

In the middle of the park there is a Soviet War Memorial commemorating Russian troops who fought in WWII.

Interesting that this is still here, but I suppose before the Hungarians sought to be liberated from the Soviets, the Russians were the ones liberating them from the Nazis. Still, I think a lot of Hungarians would view this monument with great disdain. I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually gets removed.

McBurger is spellbound

There are a lot of cool old buildings in this area. I know I keep saying it but Budapest is insanely gorgeous.

Another interesting statue in the mix here, an American Soldier from WWI?

Ok so after WWI and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Harry Hill Bandholtz was placed in Budapest on an allied Military Mission in charge of disarming the Hungarian military and supervising the withdrawal of Serbian and Romanian forces.

In a statue-worthy moment during his brief charge here, Bandholtz confronted members of the Romanian military sacking the national museum of it’s artifacts and was able to stop the looters with nothing more than a riding crop (which the statue is holding behind his back) and the sheer force of his personality.

This puts the engraved quote in more context.

Also in Liberty Square is this Memorial for Victims of the German Occupation

Straight from wizzlepedia: “The memorial features a stone statue of the Archangel Gabriel, a national symbol of Hungary, being attacked by an eagle with extended claws that resembles the German coat of arms, the eagle representing the Nazi invasion and occupation of Hungary in March, 1944. The date “1944” in on the eagle’s ankle. The inscription at the base of the monument reads “In memory of the victims.””

Alright that should be a good place to end the walkabout. The rain is picking up again and we need to get back to the hostel and decide what our next move is gonna be then hopefully we’ll find a good traditional Hungarian spot for dinner.

We walk by another random carving on the way back toward the Basilica and Pal’s.

Wow, what a place. Budapest is ranking up as maybe the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to. Our walkabout took us from Gothic to high fantasy across two bridges over the Danube in a matter of hours with statues every hundred feet. Lots of history everywhere you look. Beautiful buildings, good food, attractive people and decently cheap. I think that’s just about perfect.

Budapest, you da best!

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