I wish I could stay one more day in Vienna. It was beautiful and the weather was awesome too. But as per the itinerary, we had to proceed to Hungary, again by a coach. The drive from Vienna to Budapest was lovely. We had fun while crossing borders. The first half of the day went in travelling, but throughout the journey I did not feel tired. The coaches in Europe are very comfortable unlike the buses in India.
We got welcomed into Budapest by wind-mills and lovely Hungarian houses in the country side. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is extremely beautiful. The architecture of houses in Vienna, Prague and Budapest is different. People here are very friendly. Best way to discover this city is by walk. You can even get on the hop on hop off buses. The transport system is wonderful here. There are trams, buses, metro and railway too. The M1 railway line is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bi-cycles are also available on rent.
We stayed for 3 days in Budapest and it was extremely hot there. The temperature was between 35 to 38C, hotter than Bangalore. We literally got tanned. I did not expect Hungary to be so damn hot. But unfortunately, we got hit by the heatwave in Europe. If you plan to visit Budapest, the best time is March through May and September through November.
We had lunch at Hotel Indio Pest which is an Indian restaurant in Pest. The city of Budapest is divided into 2 towns – Buda and Pest. Buda consists of all old buildings, hills and the Castle District. Pest has the Parliament and other administrative offices. It is flat unlike Buda with apartment blocks and boulevards. Hence the name Budapest. Both of these places are separated by river Danube but are joint by Chain bride.
I loved the city and we stayed in the center of Budapest. We checked in Hotel Mercure Budapest Korona. I loved the view from my room. There was a small Chapel in front of my hotel room and beautiful trams moving around.
There was an underground metro station just next to our Hotel. The area around our hotel was surrounded by pubs and cafes where we loved to freak out during the evening free time.
Danube River Cruise
On the evening of day 1 in Budapest, we went on a Danube River Cruise on Legenda sightseeing Boats. An audio guide with multiple languages was provided. Wine and juice was served on the cruise.
The ride was smooth but the climate was extremely hot. The boat stops at Magrit Island where you can get off and discover the island. The view of Budapest from a cruise was lovely. Dinner was at an Indian restaurant named Maharana. The food here was tasty too.
On day 2, we went on a trip to Esztergom and Visegrad. Esztergom was the capital of Hungary until 13th century. This was the birth place of the first Hungarian King, St. Stephen.
The Basilica at Esztergom was beautiful. It is the 3rd largest Basilica in Europe. I love to see such ancient monuments.
The beauty around the Basilica was awesome. If you visit this place, do go inside and also climb up to the dome. You need to purchase separate tickets for that. There are rest-rooms here, but you need to pay. That’s there everywhere in Europe. Do not forget to buy an Ice-cream here. You should try ice-creams in Europe.
- Maria Valeria Bridge Slovakian Border
You can actually see Danube and Slovakia from behind the Basilica and if you wish, you can even walk and cross the Maria Valeria Bridge to reach another country. There are walkways on both sides of the bridge. The view of Basilica from Slovakian border is beautiful. The bridge was destroyed during World War II and was reconstructed. There are no checkpoints for passport and you can get an experience of crossing borders and travelling to another country by foot.
St. Stephen’s statue was also present behind the Basilica.
Followed by Esztergom Basilica, we went to Visegrad. The castle looked like a fairy tale.
We were welcomed by 2 guards in a traditional way. Right from our coach till the castle, we had to follow the guards who were beating drums.
It was indeed a royal welcome. At the Visegrad castle, we were welcomed with wine and apple juice. Followed by this, we were taken upstairs for a Knight’s tournament where the skills of Knight’s were displayed. My brother was chosen as the King of Visegrad and a beautiful lady was chosen as a queen.
After the Knight’s tournament, we trekked a bit and went to Renaissance Restaurant where we were served some Hungarian food.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was that of ancient time. Food was served as a feast in Hungarian style in hand-made clay pottery. I loved the tomato stew, grilled veges and bread. The Cheese sticks and chicken was yummy too.
Szentendre Art and Craft Village
After lunch, we went to Szentendre (St. Andrew) art and craft village. The village looked beautiful and had lots of museums and art allergies. If you want to buy souvenirs, you should buy from this village.
It is an ancient village and you can find knitted garments, handmade dolls, paprika, hand painted crockery, leather caps and jackets, etc. It was a hot sunny afternoon and literally I was not able to enjoy the beautiful view. If you plan to visit this place, visit in evenings.
Hungarian State Circus
After a visit to this village, we went to watch the Hungarian State circus which is located in the City Park of Budapest since 1971 – Magyar Cirkusz es Variete Nonprofit. The building is made of stone (the only circus stone building in Central Europe) and can accommodate 1800 spectators for a show.
The kids loved the circus and was a different experience. The floor at the circus was made of ice and the people only moved on ice-skating shoes. The show goes on for 2 and ½ hours which I felt was a bit too long.
After spending 2 hours at the circus, we went for a cocktail dinner at Haveli Restaurant. The kid spent time dancing to the tunes of Bollywood songs. The kebabs were good at this restaurant.
On Day 3, we went on a guided city tour of Budapest. The city is beautiful and is filled with old buildings. We saw the Heroes Memorial which is the largest square in Budapest.
Heroes Square was laid out in 1896 to mark the thousandth anniversary of Hungary. This place is a must visit in Budapest and is located at the end of Andrassy Avenue and next to City Park. Heroes Square is also a station of Millennium Underground.
At the top of the center pillar stands Archangel Gabriel holding the holy crown and double cross of Christianity. The seven chieftains who led the Magyar tribes to Hungary are on the stand below. This is the Millennium Monument. On either side of the center pillar, on top of colonnades are the statues of Kings and other important historical figures.
The 2 important buildings Musuem Of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle (Hall Of Art) surrounds the Heroes Square. Heroes Square and the underground railway station Millennium Underground are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The entire M1 line is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do visit this place both during day and night.
After this we went to Castle Hill. This place was restored after World War II and is located in the heart of medieval Budapest. The place has narrow alleys, cobblestone streets and has cobblestone streets and classical buildings. The Buda Castle District is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must visit attraction in Budapest.
Enjoy the beautiful Matthias Church as you walk along the Castle District.
You will also see 7 towers and enjoy the view of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion.
The Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion gives a romantic look to the Castle District.
From here you can get a best view of Parliament building and the city.
Hungarian Parliament Building
The Hungarian Parliament Building is the most expensive building built in Budapest. It is located on the banks of River Danube and is the largest building in Hungary. The building is built in neo-Gothic style.
After city tour of Budapest, we went for lunch at Mr. Masala which is an Indian restaurant. The food was awesome. The best Indian food I had during my entire trip was at Mr. Masala. The Rajma and Jeera rice was ultimate. The food was served by a Punjabi lady and she displayed true Punjabi hospitality. She was serving hot roti’s directly at the table and was literally forcing everyone to eat food.
After lunch we got a shopping drop at Vaci Utca. Vaci Street is a shopper’s delight. It is very much hyped but is a good place to sit down and have a cup of coffee with friends. The place has upscale restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes and shops.
We also found a Hungarian Shopping Market. I would suggest you not to go there. It was filled with souvenir shops and were expensive. We loved roaming around the street doing window shopping and walked to our hotel. Thanks to Google maps. It was not difficult to find our hotel.
Travel by Metro
We decided to go to TESCO Hypermarket in Arena Plaza in the evening. The hotel staff told us that Arena Plaza lies in the outskirts. Though there are small TESCO grocery stores, we wanted to buy some stuff to carry back home. So we googled and caught the metro on M4 line. Went from Budapest to Keleti from Kalvin Ter metro station. Moving around freely in Hungary without a tourist guide was like an adventure. We shopped till we dropped. I bought some props for Raksha’s Kitchen too 🙂
We reached back late to the hotel and missed dinner with our group. So again we ventured out on our own and had cheesy pizza at Pizza King. I walked a lot in Hungary so did not mind eating a slice of cheesy pizza 😉
I wish I could stay for some more time in Europe. Everything is so beautiful there. Everything is disciplined and well organized. The evenings used to unfold at 9 PM and hence we could get lot of time to move around.
The Great Market Hall
On day 4 again we went around discovering places to shop. We found a local Hungarian market – The Great Market Hall which looked just like K R Market in Bangalore or Gandhi Market in Margao. But this place was much cleaner unlike the Indian markets. The market is built in Neo-Gothic style. You could find different types of meat, sausages, souvenirs, fruits, wine, liquor, etc. at this market. It’s like a huge farmer’s market selling fresh produce.
Hungarians love meat and if you eat red meat, you should try it on the streets. This was a great discovery that we did. I don’t know how soon the 3 days in Budapest got over. Soon we were dropped to airport to catch the flight back to Bangalore.
Note: Stay tuned for more travel tales on my website 🙂 Special thanks to my hubby for the little push to start a travel section on my website.