It was a quick stop. After which, we crossed over to Pest (from Buda) and visited the Hungarian Parliament, the largest building in Hungary! We even managed to catch the Changing of Guards. The Kossuth Square is surrounded by state buildings (such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the previous Palace of Justice) and the area was simply great for a Saturday morning stroll.
A short walk brought us to Szabadság Square. The US Embassy and the Hungarian Central Bank formed the backdrop for the monument for Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi occupation during World War II. If I may repeat, this area was really nice to take a lazy stroll
The St. Stephen’s Basilica, named after the first King of Hungary, was next on our itinerary. At 96 metres, it is of equal height with the Hungarian Parliament. Apparently, this symbolises that worldly and spiritual thinking have the same importance.
Pardon my poor memory, but the rest of the day was pleasurably spent on foot – Andrassy Avenue, Vaci Street, Danube Promenade, etc. I cannot recall the exact route, but we saw many interesting sights and amazing buildings. The Opera House, the Synagogue, the Eye at Erzsébet Square and the list goes on. If only more days are as such
Ending the day on a high note, we enjoyed our best meal in Budapest at Hungarikum Bistro. We had the loin of pork, crispy duck leg, goulash soup, cucumber salad and apple pie. Every dish was a delight. However, what made our experience awesome was the attentive staff. She was always with a smile and checked in on us at appropriate intervals to ensure that we were having a good time. Our Hungarian dining experience was also made complete with live cimbalom music (traditional Hungarian instrument). Overall, a great night out!
The next morning was a bit disappointing, as the Great Market Hall was closed (on a Sunday morning). My fault for inadequate research prior to the trip I was actually looking forward to seeing their local produces, spices and the much-talked about deep-fried langos (dough made of water or milk and flour, with a dash of sugar and salt and fried in oil). Ah well. As such, Querido and I spent the morning taking tram rides along the Danube Promenade in Buda. We also checked out Gellert Bath, but decided to settle for Széchenyi instead. Gellert Bath had a more “private” feel but from photos, Széchenyi had a more fun atmosphere!
Hence, in the afternoon, we found ourselves at Széchenyi Thermal Bath! Yippeee! It is the largest thermal bath in Europe with around 20 pools! While indoors, I enjoyed watching people’s reactions as they first stepped into the ice-cold pools. Actually, I bet my own expression was also priceless whenever I entered them! Anyway, such “contrast bath therapy” counts on the fact that warm water causes vasodilation while cold water leads to vasoconstriction. Hence, alternating between them stimulate the lymph vessels to “pump” stagnant fluid and facilitate healing of damaged tissue. Science aside, it was a relaxing experience and we spent 6 hours there! I suppose that after seeing baroque buildings and churches for consecutive days, a chilled day at the Bath was a welcome change.
These pretty much sum up our amazing stay in Budapest. By the way, when I first boarded the train to our next destination, Prague, my first thought was “This train really reminds me of a scene from the recent movie ‘The Grand Hotel Budapest’!” It was my first time taking a train with a long passage way and individualised cabins. Anyway, this was the start of our long 7-hour rail travel to Prague.
Before I end off, this post is dedicated to Karen No longer the unnamed friend with a mysterious honorary mention.