0448 Taking a Break in Budapest (Hungary 001—revisit)

Budapest Travel Blog

 › entry 73 of 201 › view all entries

From Venice I catch a bus heading northeast, up towards Hungary.  I slept through the entire country of Slovenia, so I obviously don’t do any parkbenching there…

 

I wake up in Budapest where, once again, I’ll need to stay overnight because I can’t book a bus until tomorrow.  That shouldn’t be a problem--  I’m in “cheap zone” now, where hostels are plentiful and comfortably within my budget.  Since I already explored Budapest quite a bit back in 2006, maybe this time I’ll catch a train out of time and explore some neighboring towns…

 

I head out of the bus station and head towards town… through the rather somber looking neighborhoods, interrupted by an occasional stunning architectural masterpiece.

  And then I reached heart of the city, and soon find a hostel. 

The house turned into a hostel is in one of the typical, very noble buildings of multiple columned porticos built around a central courtyard. It’s 12 Euros--  and I could probably find something a little cheaper, but I kind of take a liking to this palace, so I decide to keep it…

 

Once inside with a very homey feel (the owner and his wife live there as well), it suddenly hits me how exhausted I am.  I’ve been travelling, exploring and parkbenching for more than 3 weeks now without hardly stopping to catch my breath. 

 

And finally, after camping, sleeping on overnight buses and in overpriced hostels, I finally am in a place where I can just chill out without worrying about running out of money…

 

When you’re on the road, you need from time to time to find “refuges”… places where you can pause and get your grounding again.

  And Budapest is a good place for that.

So I just relax for much of the day… abusing their free internet service and finally heading out in the afternoon to take some pics of Budapest’s landmarks.

 

Back in 2006, I started and ended my Eastern European tour here in Budapest, and was quite impressed by the splendour of the city.  The city has a great mix of architectural models and styles, thanks to the many empires and influences that have come and gone over the centuries.  Back then I had just a cheap disposable camera that didn’t even work… so I didn’t take a single photo here in Budapest

 

So now is my chance to right that wrong.  And, of course, play some music.  And hopefully uncover some new treasures, so I this visit doesn’t have the feeling of redundancy that Vienna had…

 

So, moving right along… I head down the touristy restaurant strip heading south… down to one of the most impressive market buildings in the world… across the Danube… up the path past the waterfall and to the victory monument at the top of the hill where I get a great panoramic view of the city…

Then back down again, and over to the other hill to revisit the castle and old town of Pest… I wander around the ruins of the ancient citidel… listen to a busker strumming a harp…

 

Over on the north side there’s a very fun little castle complex--  it looks a little bit too well rebuilt to be authentic, but it still looks really cool, and I can’t resist taking a video clip there…

 

Then it’s back down the hill, past the lion sculptures guarding the city,  and quickly up towards the parliament building to take another clip before it gets to dark.

  This is probably my favourite building in Hungary, a very complex gothic masterpiece…

 

It’s not quite dark when I reach Budapest’s main cathedral which dominates the skyline--  so I’m able to take yet another clip…

 

Finally, after wandering around the romantic sidewalk café district, I decide to call it a day and head back to the hostel…

 

Next Day…

 

Next day I still feel like taking it kind of easy--  but I still want to discover something new… so I head towards a huge green area on the map up in the northeast area of town that I didn’t get to on my last visit.

 

Its raining, but I don’t let that daunt me… I trudge on through the narrow streets that eventually turn into wide, tree line boulevards.

 

Finally I reach the park, which is packed with all sorts of treasures.  First, there is a memorial honouring the failed revolt against communism back in 54--  which isn’t all that impressive… Then there’s a very impressive monument to the rulers of the Hungarian Empire with columns and statues of the rulers on the side and a huge pillar with an angel in the center… Then, into the park there’s a little medieval village with a castle and a couple of ancient chapels…

 

It’s definitely worth the visit, and nice to be able to discover something new here in Budapest

 

I head on back, keeping my eye open for any other cool things I may have missed… Of course I’ve got to take a picture of the old synagogue, a colourful building that looks more like a grand Persian palace to me…

 

And that’s my visit to Budapest… I feel rested and reenergized… and inspired by all that I’ve seen…

 

The bus ride…

 

I’m heading to Germany for the third time--  this time to Frankfurt.

  I sit next to a talkative Hungarian emigrant heading back to work in the UK.  He doesn’t speak too well in English, so when I ask him if he feels well accepted in the UK, the guy in front offers to translate for me.

 

This fellow, also a Hungarian working in the UK is a history buff and have a very insightful discussion.  The topic veers from the conditions of immigrants in the UK to the Hungarian economy (where taxes run at about 50 percent) and then on to Hungarian history.

 

It’s an inspiring moment to hear from a Hungarian a brief history of their empire… how with the help of the Austrians they broke free from the Turks… how they built an empire that had natural protection--  with mountains to the south and to the west… How, according to him, Hungary got the worst deal at the end of World War I, losing 70 % of their territory and how they entered World War II on the side of the Nazis in hopes of getting their land back.

 

I suddenly realize how honored I am, for the first time to hear an honest assessment from somebody “on the other side” of World War II… I’ve always wondered how people from countries on the other side of that conflict really feel when they think back on that war.  This is a question I’ve never dared to ask, and I feel quite privileged to hear an intelligent assessment of that war--  as seen from the other side…

 

He spoke passionately of how ethnic Hungarians living in present day Slovakia, Transylvania and Croatia don’t even know about their roots and history, as in their schools the Hungarian rule is painted in a completely different light…  He doesn’t deny the injustices committed by the Hungarian empire, but feels that that in neighboring countries history is being twisted huge chunks of their joint heritage are being blotched out…

 

He also tells of the “missed opportunity” of reclaiming an “army-less” Slovakia at the end of the Cold War, and the deceitfully rosy picture that older Hungarians try to paint of Communist times….

 

It’s a very enlightening discussion.  Not because I agree with everything he says, but because he’s given me a window into a whole different world… A window that is rarely opened to a person from the West.

 

Hopefully I’ll have a few more discussions of this sort before the end of my trip…

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Budapest
photo by: Chokk