So, there used to be cities called Pest, Obuda, and Buda in Hungary. They combined to become Budapest in November 1873…but everybody knows that, right? The city is bisected by the beautiful Danube River, although today it is green, not blue. But it is still a vibrant part of the area’s history and beauty. There are dinner, lunch, wine, and coffee cruises! Hungary is the country of paprika, Magyars, half of the Austro-Hungarian Dynasty (1867-1918), Zsa Zsa Gabor, wines, specialized meats…the country is very proud of its contribution to the world.
The photos begin with the the heart of the city…St. Stephen’s Basilica, right in the middle of the action on the east bank. Completed in 1905, it is named after the first king of Hungary. You can see the beautiful dome inside, as well as some of the 302 steps in the spiral staircase leading to the observation deck near the top of the basilica. The four photos after the staircase were taken from the deck, a panoramic view of Budapest.
Next up is the local “funicolare” – the funicular tram that runs up and down Castle Hill on the east bank of the Danube. At the top is the castle and, a short walk away, what is called Halaszbastya, the Fisherman’s Bastion, built in the 20th century. The pointed turrets, statues, and columns look very medieval. In the middle of these photo is one of Matthias Church, with its distinctive red tile/mosaic tower, which just seems to beam! After that is a beautiful maiden statue and some views of the Danube and one of its many bridges that unite the two sides of Budapest. The stunning building across the river is the Hungarian Parliament Building, which straddles the Danube and is one of the city’s most magnificent buildings.
Next comes the Central Market Hall, a beautiful Hall often called “a symphony in iron,” giving off vibes similar to the Eiffel Tower with all the gorgeous ironwork. If you look closely at the roof in the shot of the interior, you will see the same Zsolnay tiles that make that one tower of Matthias Church stand out. Inside, they were filming a commercial of one of the fruit and vegetables stands! And, there is a closeup of some Hungarian paprika, the national spice. We heard a story that for centuries, cooks in Hungary would sauté onions in lard, add fresh paprika until it softened…and only THEN decide what to cook for dinner!
Following the paprika photo is the Hungarian State Opera House, but in one respect, it is a fake, as it is a photo of a photo! The outside is sheathed in scaffolding, and the facade can’t be seen. We took a tour, understanding that the Opera House is being restored, but we didn’t realize that all we would see would be hallways and smoking rooms, with three other tour guides also in the same area giving a tour in another language. It was most disappointing. We couldn’t hear the tour guide very well, and we essentially saw nothing of value. She did say the renovations were to have been completed by now, but now the contractors are saying two more years, and she recommended waiting three more years “to be sure.” So, after the photo of the photo is another photo of a photo depicting the rich red interior of the main concert hall. Only the third photo was taken by us, and it is of a staircase!
After the Opera House photos is one of the top of the Turkish Bank Building, noted as a tourist attraction on maps because it is so unusual. Isn’t it inspiring, how they decorated building facades many years ago? We love it. Then there is the pedestrian walkway, with many restaurants, cafes, and retail stores. After that are some buildings we just liked, including that of the Lounging Man we saw on top of a building as we were crossing the street to go to the Opera House. This is quality art that almost no one will ever see. It is hard to imagine a structure built today that would include that sort of detail.
The sign in the last photo gave us a good laugh and put us in a cheery mood as we did our laundry this morning in a place called Laundromate. The sign outside doesn’t announce its name or function; it simply says, “Laundry today, or naked tomorrow.”