Festival on Chain Bridge
Hungary! I jumped on the earliest train from Bratislava to Budapest...well, I tried to, but the train wasn't there. It ended up being delayed for over 3 hours before I was finally on my way. I just hoped my other train rides weren't like this. It was actually very cheap though, so I didn't even get any sort of Railpass before I left.
So I arrived in Budapest and made my way to the hostel where I could drop off my things. Now a bit of information for those that don't know...Budapest is in reality two cities, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River. It seems that most of the sites are on the Pest side, where the residential area is over in Buda.
Fisherman's Bastion and Stephen I
The one major exception is Buda Castle, which has stood for centuries overlooking both Buda and Pest. Since I was staying in Pest and wanted to get over to Buda, I headed to the famous Chain bridge. When I got there, I was surpised to see that they were having some sort of festival with lots of music and food stands set up. They had closed off the bridge to traffic that day, leading me to believe it was a walking bridge. (I found out this was not the case on the next day). I checked out the stalls and danced to the music for a bit before heading up to the funicular up to the castle.
I'm not sure if it was the price or the line or just my desire to exercise, but I took the long way up to the castle via the stairs. For me it wasn't too bad of a hike.
Inside the Buda Castle Labyrinth - asking for directions
Once at the top I took the opportunity to take some pictures of Pest across the river. I love my scenic shots! I was now in the area known as Fisherman's Bastion. I have no idea why it's called that, but it's a beautiful terrace in the castle district of Buda. In the middle of the Bastion is a statue of Stephen I of Hungary. He was the first official king of Hungary and brought Christianity to it's people.
I couldn't figure out if there was a way to go inside the castle itself, but near the castle is Matthias Church, a beautful eastern european church that I spent some time in. It is inside this church that the kings of Hungary are coronated. This absolutely beautiful church should not be missed. From the castle I walked down the street to the Buda Castle labyrinth.
Buda (left) and Pest (right)
This cool labyrinth (both literally and awe inspiring) is actually a series of caverns carved by water over a long period of time. These caves have been used since the times of early man for hunting and shelter, and as recently as World War II for places to hide out and plan. For a small amount of forint, you can get lost in these caves and see everything there is to see! Please see my pictures for some neat shots. There were many statues carved to scare off people, they were made to fool would be attackers.
Walking back past the castle, I headed over to another hill looking out over the city. Gellert Hill as it is called offers more fantastic views of Budapest, including the castle. The problem is, you have to hike down from the castle and then up this hill! The walk was a little more intense, but still very worth it.
On this hill are several shops and restaurants, and in the middle of it all is the Citadella, a fortress built by the Hapsburgs in the 1850's to watch over the town. There is also some parkland, and at the tip of the hill sits the Liberty Statue, commemorating Soviet victories in World War II.
After all that walking, I headed back downtown and ate a ton of food. Then, I walked around downtown at night and even went back to the Chain Bridge to catch the end of the festival. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful day in a beautiful city.