Budapest sightseeing: taking it from the top.

Budapest Travel Blog

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Pretty sure this is Arpad Toth Promenade. We would have enjoyed it more if we hadn't been lost at the time.
The city of Budapest is split in half by the Danube River. On the west side, you have the area called Buda; on the east side, there is Pest. Today we kicked things off on in Buda, starting at the top: Castle Hill.

It took us some time to figure out how to get up there from the subway stop. Sometimes the guidebooks omit the most obvious information! On the way, I think we walked along pretty Arpad Toth Promenade, which was something on my To Do List for the day. It was nice to get that checked off, even if I didn’t quite realize where we were at the time.  

We finally made our way up the hill and through the fortified wall. We were on the north end of Castle Hill, and started at the Military History Museum.
Military History Museum. (Photo taken from talkingcities.co.uk)
We had purchased a Budapest Card (allows free entrance to some museums and free public transportation for three days for $53) and the card worked there which was nice. I am determined to make that card pay off, which means we will see a lot of museums while we are here. Hmmm, that’s not always a good thing…museums are tiring. And sometimes... really boring.   

Maybe we went through backwards or something, but this museum was just a confusing mess to me. It didn’t help that the exhibits were almost all in Hungarian, so we were just looking at random photos and relics with no idea what they were. There was one section in English that covered Hungary’s 1957 revolution, which was very interesting and also sad. The whole free world was rooting for little Hungary as they tried to take back their country from communist rule.
The Hungarian National Archives next to the Vienna Gate.
Many countries sent aid to the Hungarians (I saw stacks of boxes in one display that had “donated by the American People…” printed on them). But it wasn’t meant to be this time… The revolution failed as they were crushed by the Soviet tanks. What a time in world history.

From here, we walked south, going through Vienna Gate square and looking at the ruins of 12th century Church of Mary Magdalene, which was pretty much destroyed by air raids in WWII. The steeple and a huge window frame are all that’s left standing, so some imagination is required here.

Things were quiet on Castle Hill up until we got to busy Fisherman’s Bastion. This area was bustling, with tour buses and large groups pouring into the peaked towers and upper walkway.
Restoration/rebuild at Fisherman's Bastion.
The bastion is a series of towers, paths, and arches set on the side of the hill -- very pretty but it also looks heavily restored. By restored, I mean rebuilt with new stone. It doesn’t even look old, but then again, maybe it has just aged well. There was a beautiful view of the “Pest” side of the river, and we spent a little time in the area until the crowds and annoying construction blockades drove us east, to Uri Street, which is lined with beautiful old homes. We were looking for an underground “labyrinth” that used to be 16th century wine caves, but no luck there, so we walked south.

The main event on Castle Hill is, you guessed it, the castle. The hill has actually been the site of many castle/palaces dating from the 13th century, and some of the old foundations have been exposed for viewing.
Artifacts at Budapest History Museum. Yawn.
We went into the museum housed in the current palace’s southern wing, called Budapest History Museum. There were a lot of artifacts there from various excavations, but the pillars and pieces seemed out of context in glass cases, especially disappointing after seeing these things in situ while in Turkey. Although the displays themselves didn’t catch my interest too much, I really liked the building itself. At some point we seemed to descend into an older part, and the exposed stones and passages were very interesting.  

We were hungry and needed a break from sightseeing at this point, so we looked around the area for good options. There weren’t any. Everything was overpriced and obviously catered to tourists …  fixed price goulash menus and doughy-looking undercooked pizza… yuck.
Matthias Church under wraps.
We went into one of them but the waiter ignored us, we couldn’t find a seat, and everyone was smoking. Back out again and hunting the neighborhood until we found a little grocery store. We bought picnic supplies and ate outside in a nearby park. Much better.

From here, we made a quick tour of Matthias Church, which is back up at Fisherman’s Bastion. The thing is so shrouded in scaffolding that we thought it was closed for construction, but then saw the entrance while we were walking by and went inside (the entrance fee was covered on our Budapest Card...sweet). This 13th century church has a 15th century steeple. The whole thing was actually converted to a mosque when the Turks took over, then it was converted back to a church in the 17th century when they were driven out.
Mine is way too small.
There were detailed paintings and some stained glass, but it was dark inside and therefore hard to photograph.

On our way home we happened upon a vegetarian restaurant called Eden. I was excited about this (broccoli?!), so we returned later in the evening for dinner. There was not one green food item in the place! Eden, my ass. It was all rice, potatoes, and seitan- or tofu-based foods. It was set up cafeteria style, and the bins were mostly empty of their brown and tan offerings since they were about to close for the day. NOT appetizing... it made school lunch look good in comparison. So we left and headed back to our neighborhood for an attempt at another vegetarian restaurant we had seen there… But it had closed at 8pm! At this point we were very sick of hunting for food.
All that's left of the Church of Mary Magdalene is this window...
Budapest seems to offer bad, overpriced food …exclusively. Where is the good stuff??? We ended up at an Irish pub where I had the first “small” Guinness I have ever ordered in my life (why did I do that? It tasted so good I wanted more of course), and Steve tried to order three things from the menu before finding something they actually had in stock. My tiny salad was $12. Not a great experience. But at least the Guinness was good. If small.

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Pretty sure this is Arpad Toth Pro…
Pretty sure this is Arpad Toth Pr…
Military History Museum. (Photo ta…
Military History Museum. (Photo t…
The Hungarian National Archives ne…
The Hungarian National Archives n…
Restoration/rebuild at Fishermans…
Restoration/rebuild at Fisherman'…
Artifacts at Budapest History Muse…
Artifacts at Budapest History Mus…
Matthias Church under wraps.
Matthias Church under wraps.
Mine is way too small.
Mine is way too small.
All thats left of the Church of M…
All that's left of the Church of …
...and a steeple.
...and a steeple.
Hmmm, I wonder what this is?
Hmmm, I wonder what this is?
We appear to have Castle Hill to o…
We appear to have Castle Hill to …
View of Parliament from Fisherman…
View of Parliament from Fisherman…
View of the Danube and Margaret Is…
View of the Danube and Margaret I…
Fishermans Bastion.
Fisherman's Bastion.
Construction blockage at Fisherman…
Construction blockage at Fisherma…
Castle Hill street scene.
Castle Hill street scene.
Musicians outside the Royal Palac…
Musician's outside the Royal Pala…
The castle part of Castle Hill.
The castle part of Castle Hill.
Entrance gate to museums and palac…
Entrance gate to museums and pala…
Budapest History Museum.
Budapest History Museum.
Statuary at Budapest History Museu…
Statuary at Budapest History Muse…
Royal Palace on Castle Hill.
Royal Palace on Castle Hill.
Preparing our picnic.
Preparing our picnic.
It may not be much, but we call it…
It may not be much, but we call i…
Matthias Church interior.
Matthias Church interior.
Matthias Church interior.
Matthias Church interior.
Budapests trains are retro-chic.
Budapest's trains are retro-chic.
Studying for tomorrows adventures.
Studying for tomorrow's adventures.
Budapest
photo by: Chokk