I was going to post an article on Venice next, but today am posting what I have written on Budapest Hungary, which is now in my Travel in a changing world book two. So here it is –
On arriving there on an overnight train from Vienna, I booked into the luxurious Atlas Hotel and then took the Metro to explore the area of the World listed Royal Palace and Castle Hill on the Buda side of the river. In this precinct are cafes, the Sandor Palace, cathedral, Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. The architecture is fascinating and the views over the river are superb. I spent the afternoon there. It is worth seeing main in Budapest such as Heroes’ Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Danube Promenade and Buda Castle District Enjoy two delicious Hungarian pastries with a hot drink or mineral water. There are private English speaking guides to show you around with interesting stories to tell. Learn about the Hungarian culture and history as you go to places like Hero’s Square (impressive statues of important national figures), the Markets, City Park, the Opera House and nearby café for a coffee and delicious snack such as a locally made pastie like I did. In the Buda Castle area, you can see the Royal Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church. You can go with a guide on a three hour walking tour or just see the sights yourself saving your legs where possible like I did by taking the Metro. Vajdahunyad Castle (near the park opposite Hero’s Square) was constructed in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition, which celebrated 1,000 years since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin.
On my second day in Budapest, I started off early before the heat of the day became too intense and walked to all the sights on the Pest side of the Danube such as the Central Market Hall, the spectacular interior of St Stephen’s Basilica, the synagogue, Parliament buildings and museum opposite. There was so much to see and take photos of the stunning architecture The Opera house is not far away and from here I took the Metro to the famous Szechenyi thermal baths and Gellert Spa where I spent the afternoon being Europe’s largest thermal baths
There are Turkish baths, hot and cold outdoor pools. It was like swimming in a palace courtyard and there was even an outdoor disco ball glittering in the warm sunshine. It was a surreal experience and I just loved having swims in the cooler pools and then going into the warm ones to soothe the aching muscles. Frequent pool parties are held here mostly on Saturdays I am told.
Hungary is famous for its cuisine. You can buy supplies at the Central Market Hall. In many cafes and restaurants, you can eat traditional foods which usually contain paprika, meat and cabbage. It is generally healthy food. Traditional dishes include meat soup, hot tomato stews, kolbasz (sausage) and toltott kaposzta (meat stuffed with cabbage) which I found delicious. The locals love desserts like chocolate and cream cakes or tortes with chocolate and nuts. In Budapest, I saw many refugees in parks or begging in streets. There were over 150000 refugees mainly from Syria, the Middle East, Iraq and Pakistan. The situation became worse while I travelled around Europe. Hungary built a wall along the entire length of its eastern border with Slovakia using prison labour to stem the flow of refugees. Not far from my Atlas hotel and around the Centre of town, you can along the cobblestone streets towards Ferenciek Square and Vaci Street, a strip well-known for its shops and trinkets. If you have extra time and energy, you can also walk along the Danube Promenade, taking in the panorama of Gellert Hill and the Citadel, with views to the Chain Bridge plus the stunning lookout at Fisherman’s Bastion