Budapest : Party time by the River Duna

Budapest Travel Blog

 › entry 183 of 268 › view all entries
Old boy welcomes tourists with 'is fiddle..

Not The Best Start

I didn’t take the train from Sibiu to Budapest I took the bus via Cluj in a vain attempt to save about £4 in all but what a fool ‘oh what a foolish decision’ ‘cos it don’t in the end my friend ‘cos I roll in t’town later than planned stuck at the border for over an hour and I’m dropped let’s say dumped under a concrete flyover with no map, no idea where I would be on it even if I had one, no money and no clue and no accommodation booked ‘cos I hung on too long for 30 Couchsurfing invitations that never came and now I’m stuck and it’s raining and gathering dusk and The Lonely Plonker’s Guide to Eastern Europe (my one page guide to the region) is no f**king help whatsoever as usual so what do I do? what do I do?  I haven’t a clue I find the main bus station by good fortune I now have money I actually sniff, yes literally smell out an underground Metro line nearby it’s true I do, I catch a breeze of that familiar stale gust of air carrying London Underground memories so I literally follow my nose to the centre of town bearing all the while a frown and nowhere to go rest my weary head I’ll find a hostel right? Just walk walk walk and persevere in the drizzle and then by some divine travel providence a map blows along the Metro platform and wraps around my feet - a Hudsucker moment - so at least now I know what this city looks like but from what angle and but where to go tonight? I have some addresses scribbled in my notebook but I walk and walk and defying all laws of city logic don’t happen across any hostel in the centre of Pest at all and no one can direct me so “Lordy Lordy” I break all my financial principles and flag a cab to one of the addresses and am immediately suffering cardiac palpitations ‘cos the meter’s running at approximately £1 a minute (!!!!!!)  f**k f**k f**k I’m looking all outta luck ‘cos no hostel exists there so where where where now?  I beg taxi man, take me to any hostel you know any at all it’s your call and he does and the meter’s racing my heart beats are chasing it as its value rises to the skies and he drops me at Domino hostel a venue of Lonely Planet provenance and so chock full of drunk Brits but I couldn’t give a shit ‘cos I need to stop moving and I hand him the equivalent of about 20 British Pounds (!!!!!) thus annihilating any sense of money saving intent through my disastrous lack of preparation so I tell myself as punishment I am not allowed to have a beer until I feel I’ve saved back the equivalent sum in self imposed beer abstinence which I do okay on not touching another drop until 6 days later when I arrive in Zagreb with Tomi when ‘it’d be rude not to join him with one’ and anyway I’ve cheated you yes what a little deceiver ‘cos this very night I sip a glass of wine with Richard who I first met in Brasov ‘YOU CHEAT YOU CHEAT’ I here you jeer, but ‘ah ah ah I say I said I drank WINE and not beer!’ and so you say maybe it’s true what History says that you can  never trust the word of an Englishman but hey I merely exploited a factual loophole okay a psychological contract ’not worth the electromagnetic-chemical impulses used to craft it with mate!’ know what I’m sayin’ and I was only cheating myself at the end of the day yeah? ooh wait I’m all outta puff so enough sleep sleep sleep and dreams and stuff and tomorrow is another day…

Another Day

It really does feel like a fresh start.

The Liberty Statue (I think?) atop the Buda Citadel.
  Budapest by morning light.  Yesterday follies behind me.  I’m heading straight for the company; for a reunion with my friend the River Duna.  The Danube.  Their she flows.  Long decked pristine clean white tourism boats with leaf green trim and endless sun chairs ranked along their tops sit at anchor besides the numerous piers that spread along the Pest embankment of the river that divides this great city.  Buda in the company of the sun to the East.  The boats bare names such as Symphonie, Beethoven and Vivaldi.  Strasbourg their city of origin.  The brown waters of the Danube running North to South here part around the proud protruding prows of these long elegant steel swans.  Little Mallard ducks kick out into the currents to prove they’re equally capable if not more so of holding position mid-stream.
The rear of St.Stephen's Basilica.
  An old boy in smart charcoal grey trousers, matching waistcoat and white cotton shirt plays his fiddle at the end of Pier 3 flanked by two girls in traditional Hungarian dress ready to great the guests and the wallets of the Beethoven as they prepare to come ashore.

I’m gonna give myself a little time.  A good few days in Budapest.  So many friends have waxed so rhapsodically of its qualities I am happy to stop here for a while.  I start - as ever - with one of my aimless walking tours of the central areas of Pest.  First impressions?  Good.  Budapest is of course one of those classic European cities that reaches for the skies at every single turn with BIG, bold and very often beautiful architecture.  I’m thinking Vienna, Paris, areas of London, districts of Berlin and Prague and I dunno, many another place I can’t recall or have never yet been.

A large flower statue to mark the opening of the citys summer festival.
  It does though seem to have a very pronounced problem with graffiti at ground level.  An epidemic of spray scrawl and ‘tagging’.  The usual indecipherable hieroglyphs of teenage boredom and frustration that whilst in a city like, per se, Bucharest feels almost an expected or even harmonious part of its schizophrenic aesthetic tapestry, in Budapest is a blight.  Mercifully all the scrawl of how so ever many walls is tantamount to little more the painting of a giant’s toe nail as the city’s grandeur - and so your eyes - rise far above this low level creeping visual blight.

There is a great wealth of sites in Budapest.  In brief relation in my first day or so I visit a good number of churches.  St Stephen’s Basilica at the heart of the city reigns most prominent and worthy of your attentions from without and within.

The rather splendid and spikey Parliament Building of Hungary (Europe's largest parliament structure)
  As I stroll around inside a custodian points at me from behind a rope barrier ‘Turista?‘.  ‘Yes’.  Why, yes I am aren’t I.  I am no longer English. For a time.  No longer British.  For now.  I am becoming a Global Citizen.  A Turista.  When can I apply for my Universal Passport; no visas required please? 

I sit for sometime in my namesake’s ( St.Stephen’s ) shadow reading on a bench, it’s prominent golden motto glittering above the main entrance ‘ Ego sum via veritas et vita’ ( ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’  John 14:6 apparently).  I cross the oldest and most renowned of the many bridges that span the Danube here the ‘Chain Bridge’ to Buda.

The fairy tale like appearance of the Fisherman's Bastion.
  The bridge is being pedestrianised every weekend in July to host part of the city’s summer festival which I will have the great pleasure and luck to witness.

Climbing up the slopes and steps on this side of town and you can walk at your leisure around and within the precincts of Buda Castle sat proudly on the hill and offering various and magnificent panorama views of the city with blue skies, soft clouds and the Danube’s umbilical concourse below.  Grand statuary abounds.  Many museums are housed in its vast wings but these are not for me right now.  On to the almost fairy tale book appearance of the stretch of citadel wall and turrets referred to as The Fisherman’s Bastion flanking the East side of fortified Castle District of Buda.  A fabulous place just to spend hours sat on benches as the sun burns slowly down over a view of Buda; to watch young couples and kids eating curious funnel-like traditional sweet Hungarian pastries and stumbling around cobble streets.

Hungary Craft 1
  A joyous wedding with a white Cadillac conveyance takes place in the grand St George’s Church, scaffolded into significant concealment for maintenance right now.

Oh What a Night

Having drunk my fill for now of the wonderful views from atop Buda Castle hill  ( lady Liberty holding her palm frond aloft from atop the southern hilltop bastion called simply Citadel in the far distance) I descend to join the happy throng around the stage that’s been erected at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge to host great live music all weekend.  One sits facing the Pest end of the bridge too.  Everyone sits and stands and claps and clamours and if small enough clamber on to one anothers shoulders to enjoy the quite astonishing harmonica dexterity of the rock ‘n’ blues band hammering out the tunes that along with other bands will flow late into the night and weave such a beautiful sight of happy citizens all over the city and a bright shining light of human happiness that blazes all along the Chain Bridge as people eat and drink and laugh to their hearts content.

  Decamped to the Pest end stage now and happy as Larry (whoever he is?) and I’m grinning at the good fortune of my arrival in town at such a time.  Everyone here is buzzin’ and skankin’ to the reggae-ska rhythms and tunes of the popular Hungarian ska outfit called (I think?) Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra.  And as they step out for their much called for encore a great fireworks display erupts from the middle of the Danube and this becoming such a perfect summers night if only… but no!… but if only I could have a nice cold… no no no… a nice cold, ice cold… Steeeeve!!! You promised!… but everybody else has got one… a nice, soothing smooth, cold b-b-b-beeeeeeeeeeerPleeeease let me.  But I don’t.  Cos I’ve promised myself.
Fireworks over the Danube... beeeeautiful!
  A small punishment.  And I have good will power.

Sometimes ;D

Transitory says:
bookmarked
Posted on: Aug 03, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Old boy welcomes tourists with is…
Old boy welcomes tourists with 'i…
The Liberty Statue (I think?) atop…
The Liberty Statue (I think?) ato…
The rear of St.Stephens Basilica.
The rear of St.Stephen's Basilica.
A large flower statue to mark the …
A large flower statue to mark the…
The rather splendid and spikey Par…
The rather splendid and spikey Pa…
The fairy tale like appearance of …
The fairy tale like appearance of…
Hungary Craft 1
Hungary Craft 1
Fireworks over the Danube... beeee…
Fireworks over the Danube... beee…
Is this Art Deco?... Im so crap a…
Is this Art Deco?... I'm so crap …
The pedestrianised Chain Bridge...…
The pedestrianised Chain Bridge..…
Chain Bridge (abstract)
Chain Bridge (abstract)
Tree Print (Budapest)
'Tree Print' (Budapest)
Grafitti problem.
Grafitti problem.
Rokus Chapel.
Rokus Chapel.
The National Opera House
The National Opera House
St.Stephens Basilica (detail)
St.Stephen's Basilica (detail)
A Strange Audience
'A Strange Audience'
The cupola dome interior of St.Ste…
The cupola dome interior of St.St…
The transept in St.Stephens Basil…
The transept in St.Stephen's Basi…
mary within the Basilica of St.Ste…
mary within the Basilica of St.St…
Grafitti (abstract)
Grafitti (abstract)
Sun flowers and traditional Hungar…
Sun flowers and traditional Hunga…
Ribbons and Dance
Ribbons and Dance
Street Waltz
Street Waltz
Chain Bridge from on High.
Chain Bridge from on High.
Part of the Buda Castle frontice.
Part of the Buda Castle frontice.
A wing of Buda Castle
A wing of Buda Castle
Statuary and Spire of (I think?)  …
Statuary and Spire of (I think?) …
The Fishermans Bastion
The Fisherman's Bastion
St.Georges Church roofing (detail)
St.George's Church roofing (detail)
A cork pinboard observed in the en…
A cork pinboard observed in the e…
Hungary Craft 2
Hungary Craft 2
Local railway (abstract)
Local railway (abstract)
Harmonica Man plays the blues
Harmonica Man plays the blues
Dusk above the Danube.
Dusk above the Danube.
Stage of the festival of music at …
Stage of the festival of music at…
Budapest
photo by: Chokk