Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Budapest, Hungary Day 2.

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. 

View of Hungarian Parliament building from Fisherman's Bastion

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. 

The Hungarian Girl statue Budapest

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!

Budapest Chain Bridge Hungary

Budapest White House Castle Hill
Budapest guards

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!

Budapest castle hill

Trabant on Budapest Castle Hill

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. 

Fortuna Cafe Budapest

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.

Matthius Church Budapest
Matthius Church Budapest

Inside Matthius Church Budapest Hungary

Stained glass Matthius Church Budapest

Inside Matthius Church Budapest

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...

View of Hungarian Parliament building from Fisherman's Bastion

Views of Budapest from Fishermans Bastion

View of Hungarian Parliament building from Fisherman's Bastion

View of Hungarian Parliament building from Fisherman's Bastion
Not to mention Fisherman's Bastion looks like a total Disney/Fairytale castle!

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest

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.

Ruszwurm Budapest

Ruszwurm Budapest ice-cream

Over on the other side of the river we walked up towards the Parliament building to see the famous Jewish 'shoes' memorial. The commonly known story is that many of the Jews of Budapest were taken to the river's edge, told to take off their shoes and then were shot one by one into the river, so the water would carry the bodies away. Sadly the truth is even worse than this. The reality was that families were all tied together and just one of them was shot, which then dragged all of the others into the water alive. The other family members then drowned as the weight of the now deceased family member kept them under the water. It was apparently a way to save bullets.

Jewish shoes memorial Budapest

The memorial is a large row of cast iron shoes, all different styles from the thirties and fourties. Men's, women's, and children's. It was harrowing, very moving, and strangely personal. The cast iron shoes look so real, as if their owners had just stepped out of them that very morning. A reminder that something horrible happened here, that should never happen again.

Budapest number two tram

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! 



  1. What a horrible and touching story about the shoes. I can imagine how humbling it was to stand and look at it all. i have to say the white house is pretty beautiful, even if the guards are just there for show (which did make me laugh!) the food looks like the ultimate comfort food!

    Katie <3

    1. It was so sad. I just can't fathom how other anyone could do that to other human beings.

      I know, I loved that they created their own traditions, I was like 'yeh, you go!' haha

      C x

  2. I never new Budapest was so beautiful! I'm hoping to travel Europe next summer for a little while and Budapest wasn't really on my list of places to see, but wow, this might have nudged it in there. The Fisherman's Bastion especially looks gorgeous, and the streets really remind me of Prague by the look of them. Great post! x

    1. I know, I had no idea until I started researching it more! Definitely put it on the list, it's really beautiful, so cheap, there's so much to do, and the locals are all so friendly! Also it really does have a fascinating history.

      C x

  3. Wow it is so picturesque! I never knew. Looks like you had a fab time x Heroine In Heels

    1. I don't think many people know how beautiful it is - I'm on a mission to change that now, haha!

      C x

  4. What a gorgeous photos! I already can't wait to head there. Unfortunately I still have to wait another month before I'll set my feet on Hungarian grounds for the first time in my life!


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