Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Bit of Budapest - Part Two

Day two in this beautiful city was a bit more planned than the first! We got to grips with the metro and bus systems and felt ready to tackle another packed day of sight seeing.

First up, a visit to Heroes Square. It's such a lovely part of the city; despite being surrounded by traffic, it feels like it's away from the hustle and bustle of the city and feels very peaceful. The monuments essentially commemorate Hungarian history and the events that helped shape it.

A visit to the House of Terror Museum was next and it was pretty amazing. This museum documents the effect of the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Hungary and acts as a memorial to the victims. It is spectacularly done; completely captivating and so, so moving. This is an absolute must on a Budapest itinerary. 

We decided to go somewhere a bit more fancy for lunch (VERY fancy!). Once thought to be the most beautiful cafe in the world, The New York Cafe is the most opulent place I have ever been! I felt incredibly lucky to be dining in such luxury - obviously, the food was great too! The deserts were delicious and so very pretty. I don't normally make the most of the eateries available abroad and how foolish I have been! It's made me realise that picking the right restaurants can really make a day and this is a definite tourist attraction in itself.

Before heading for another museum, we took a quick peek at the Dohany Street Synagogue. It's so intricate from the outside but unfortunately, we didn't get to go inside (in all honesty, we couldn't figure out how or where to buy tickets!). If I do return to Budapest (and I'm hoping I do one day), visiting the inside of this synagogue is at the top of my to-do list.

Next, it was on to the Museum of Applied Arts. Again, the architecture didn't disappoint (Budapest knows how to design a building or two!). The mosaic roof, gothic features and sheer size of the building make it a pretty spectacular sight! Inside, a variety of exhibitions can be found. We opted for the Odon Lechner exhibition which was all about the life and work of this clever Hungarian architect (who happened to design this very building). It was so interesting! I would thoroughly recommend this exhibition if you're heading to Budapest soon and are interested in architecture or design.

We then went for a bit of retail therapy at the Central Market Hall. It's filled with fruit, veg, Hungarian delicacies, cloth, trinkets the lot! It's worth a visit, but if I'm totally honest, apart from the food stalls, the souvenirs are all geared towards tourists and are very samey. I would've loved to find more authentic things on sale. Still, I do like me a good fridge magnet so I can't complain too much! We then spotted this cheeky little Peter Pan character along the tramline! 

Our last night was spent checking out some local bars (and having a few cheeky cockatails - I can't resist a Cosmo!) near the Deak Ferenc ter Metro station. We stopped at a bar/bistro called Loft first; quite a small place, but it's pretty cute inside. The Design Terminal was my favourite though; it feels very swish. I couldn't help but grin when I was sipping a cocktail whilst listening to trendy music (I sound so old!).

The next and last morning of our trip started with a visit to Szechenyi Spa before a last stroll around the lovely city. It is a huge, natural spring bath and was a very nice and relaxing end to the trip!

My Budapest experience is now all rounded up and I'm already dreaming of my next city break. Fingers crossed I don't have to wait too long!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Bit of Budapest - Part One

Hey folks! Sorry for the slight absence. As the title suggests, I've been away this week and as it was a kind of last minute arrangement, there were a few things to organise before the trip.

I spent three days in the lovely capital of Hungary and I thought I'd write a couple of posts about what I got up to!

A trip on the Castle Hill Funicular to take us up to Buda Castle was first on our itinerary. A little tourist attraction in itself, the old public transport offers a much more fun way to get to the top of the hill!

We admired the grandiose exterior of Buda Castle before heading into the National History Museum and National Art Gallery - both with beautiful exhibitions and a sense of what the inside of the castle had to offer.

After a stroll around Buda Castle, we headed down to the Fisherman's Bastion. It takes it name from the group of fishermen responsible for protecting the stretch of the city walls, but now it offers some of the best views of both sides of the Danube river. The gothic architecture is incredible - a definite must see!

Just up from the Fisherman's Bastion is the beautiful, decorative, Roman Catholic Matthias Church. Some of my favourite sights when I visit cities are those of old religious buildings and this definitely didn't disappoint. The outside alone, with it's colourful tiled roof and gothic architecture, is incredible; the inside is just as gorgeous, with fine detail in every tiny corner.

After a quick lunch, we headed to the top of Gellert Hill where the Citadel and Statue of Liberty is situated. It was a bit of a climb, but was worth it to see the view of Budapest from the highest point in the city.

We then walked alllllll the way down to the other end of the stretch, and other side of the Danube, to admire the amazing Parliament Building. In keeping with the gothic style, this building is the biggest in Hungary. Unfortunately, the building was heavily guarded at the time that we approached it, so didn't get to go inside. Nevertheless, just to see the intricate design up close felt special!

A short walk down from the Parliament Building, are the Shoes on the Danube; a moving tribute to the Jews who were killed by fascist militants in World War II. 

Next up, a walk to St. Stephen's Basilica; another beautiful, but more traditional looking Roman Catholic church. It features a magnificently decorated interior, in particular, the colourful central dome. 

We finished the first day with a meal at a restaurant near the Chain Bridge called the Meat Boutique. It served steaks, burgers, wings, you name it! I opted for roasted chicken fillet and vegetables. It doesn't sound much, but it was probably the best chicken and veg I've ever had - so tasty! We took in night time views of the city before heading back to the hotel to get some much needed rest in preparation for our next day of exploring.