Our second day in Budapest started out very wet and cold, however it did brighten up thankfully. We had a lazy morning and then sauntered down to the square behind the hotel to meet up with the guide who would be taking us on our free walking tour. Despite seeing quite a bit of the city the day before on the Pest side of the river, we hadn't seen the Buda side yet. You see, Budapest used to be three cities (Buda, Pest, and Obuda), before they all joined together to form Budapest.
So off we went with our umbrellas, and had a very interesting time on the walking tour. It was a great way to find out more about the city, ask a local questions about the city (did you know, the average wage of a Hungarian is just 600 Euros a month!), and generally just see the best bits of the city without getting lost! We found out some interesting facts about Hungary's history, which I loved. When choosing to visit countries, I usually do so because of the history of the country, and I love learning more about it's past, whether good or bad.
After seeing a few statues and learning more about the history (the statue above was the very first statue to be created after the Iron Curtain fell and they gained independence from Soviet Russia) over on the Pest side of the river, we then finally crossed the river to Buda. After climbing up the hill the clouds cleared and the sun finally appeared just in time for photos at Fisherman's Bastion!
The story of the above two photographs is a funny one. That white building is where the President of Hungary works, apparently it has no security whatsoever as no one cares enough about Hungary to harm him. Also, the guard in the photo above is there purely for tourists, a few years ago the President decided they needed to create an 'identity', so they created a new 'tradition' of these guards standing outside the Hungarian 'white house' and performing a changing of the guard ceremony every hour. The guns are not loaded and do not work. If there's a security issue the guards have to phone the police for back-up!
Castle Hill is so pretty, the houses are like chocolate box houses! After getting to the top of Fisherman's Bastion we finished our walking tour and then went for lunch at a little canteen called Fortuna, with the guide and some of the other people from the tour. I'd read about Fortuna before going, so was rather excited when the guide led us there. All of the locals on the world wide web say this is the only local cafe in the Castle Hill area, as everything else is so geared up for tourists. The food looked stodgy and very 'school-canteen' style, but it was so good, and so cheap. I had chicken and pasta with traditional Hungarian Dumplings. Yep, carbs on carbs. This entire meal plus a coca-cola cost me just 1400 Forint, that's £3.50.
We sat down at a table with the guide and an older American couple. We got chatting about life in general and what we all do, and we discovered that the husband was one of the guitarists from sixties rock band The Fifth Estate! Apparently he used to play concerts to 20,000 people. I immediately texted my Dad, knowing he would likely know about the band, and he did. He replied with some of The Fifth Estate's songs, and the man was very impressed that he knew songs that weren't their big famous ones. Sadly we didn't get his or his wife's names :(
After lunch we parted ways with the rest of the group, and Bella and I decided to pay our 1000 Forint or whatever it was to visit Matthius Church. Inside was stunning, the walls were completely covered in art and paintings.
It was well worth the small cost to see this in person. These photos don't do it justice. We spent some time wandering around the church, and then went out to Fisherman's Bastion to see the view. It was a pretty good view! There was also a really good looking guy standing to the side of Arabella....so she managed to catch this on camera... smile, scout, rawr!
Anyway, all jokes aside the view was pretty amazing...
Not to mention Fisherman's Bastion looks like a total Disney/Fairytale castle!
On our way back to the 'other side', we stopped off for some ice-cream. Budapest didn't do very good ice-cream, but this place was delish! I had strawberry and forest fruits, I needed something refreshing after our heavy and very stodgy lunch.
After spending some time at the memorial, we then walked back to the hotel to have a rest from our day of walking, and get changed for dinner. We lazed about in the jacuzzi for a while, having girlie chats and excitedly chatting about our impending trip to Vienna and the world-famous Hotel Imperial. We then found the most amazing fish restaurant for dinner, which was a welcome change from all of the carbs we'd been eating. I'll be posting all about this tomorrow in a post all about eating out in Budapest!